Edited by Vani Rao
Announces new OS for Mac and iPhone users
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: APPL) kicked off its five-day 2014 edition of the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) on June 2, 2014, at Moscone West in San Francisco. It was business as usual for Apple with priority on the software development and updates for the current hardware. Apple’s last major announcement was the iPhone 4 at the WWDC 2010 edition by the late CEO Steve Jobs. In the past, hardware updates to Macbook and Mac Pro were announced in subsequent editions.
The inaugural day announcements at the WWDC 2014 did not bring any excitement for Apple product users as they were expecting announcements on new products like the iPhone 6 or any other revolutionary product post the acquisition of Beats Electronics on May 28, 2014. Apple’s shares were down 0.69% on June 2, 2014, and were trading at $628.65 at the end of the session, snapping its bull run to the stock split on June 6, 2014.
Show Stoppers and the Limelight
The iPhone maker announced the new iOS 8 for the iPhone and new OS X 10.10 “Yosemite” for Mac users. The company focused on integrating Apple products with the iCloud and iCloud Drive. This feature will enable Apple users to originate a task on one product and finish on another. For example, an Apple user can start writing an email or editing some document on the Mac and can continue the process either on the iPhone or the iPad. It will also help users to answer calls or reply to text messages received on the iPhone on the Mac or an iPad.
Apple also had a new “Spotlight” program, which is a search bar centered in the middle of the screen. It helps in auto search apps and searches the word on the internet. The AirDrop feature helps users to share files and documents across the iOS and Mac operating systems. The new OS update for both iPhone and Mac users will be available to users this fall for free.
The company also revealed a new online-storage service, iCloud Drive, which will help users sync files with the Mac and as well as Windows OS devices. The app also allows users to edit, store, and sync photos across all Apple devices in their original resolution.
In addition, Apple has announced a new fitness tracking app called Health, which will store a range of information about the users’ medical history, fitness levels, and other vital health information through a variety of apps and devices. However, it will, at discretion of the user, allow sharing of the information with third parties.
Moreover, Apple’s HomeKit app will serve as an all- in-one remote control for the entire household security and smart digital devices. Users can use the feature with voice commands through Siri. Apple has worked with various smart digital device manufactures for offering software support for such devices.
In contrast to previous WWDC events, Apple has unlocked some of its device features to external developers. Now, a developer can use the Touch ID, the fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5S, to develop a new app. Similarly, Apple now offers new virtual keyboards for the iPhone to third-party users. This will help Apple to provide better input languages, especially when it is targeting mass markets like China, which has a different linguistic script.
For developers, Apple has announced a new programming language called “Swift”. Apple said that Swift will make it easier and faster for programmers to write new apps.
Most importantly, Apple has joined the Bitcoin bandwagon by allowing software developers to build applications for virtual-currency transactions. In the past, Apple had blocked the virtual currency apps of Blockchain.info from its App Store. The policy revamp is likely to heat up the virtual currency market led by Bitcoin. This has been a major plus point for Bitcoin after satellite TV provider DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) announced that it will start accepting Bitcoin payments for DISH bills from July 2014. However, Apple clarified that any such app should be under the regulation of the Federal law.
However, it seems that Apple, once a pioneer in mobile technologies, is lagging behind Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Android operating system and the usage of features like SwiftKey or Nuance’s Swype on to its system. Apple has also included self-destruct features of the Android-based app Snapchat on to its new messenger.
On a positive note, Apple has revamped its iCloud feature with online storage features from its rival, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s OneDrive. The feature will enable users to store photos, videos, and other documents with a price tag of $4 a month for 200 gigabytes.
Going by its past record, Apple has always surprised consumers with the timing of its products launch and it is expected to make some major announcement at the end of the five-day mega event. Let us wait and watch!