At its annual World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), Apple unveiled its newest version of OS X Yosemite, a significant upgrade to its desktop and mobile operating systems. OS X Yosemite features a lot of flat and translucent designs and demonstrates Apple’s move towards the “connected health and smart home spaces.” Furthermore, WWDC introduced Apple’s new programming language called Swift, 4,000 new APIs, and significant improvement to their iCloud product.
A New Programming Language
This was one of the major surprises of WWDC 2014. Apple announced that it has built a new programming language for iOS and OS X called Swift. The new programming language is allegedly faster to code, making it easier than ever for developers to build powerful apps. Swift is set to be in beta until iOS 8 is released this fall and is reportedly Apple’s replacement for Objective-C. Apple has justified its decision with developers by arguing it will be much “faster and easier to use.” Moreover, in the last decade companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft have all introduced new programming languages, which makes Swift Apple’s long overdue programming language.
Health App and Health Kit
Named Yosemite’s best new feature by Fast Company Magazine, Apple’s Health Kit will monitor users’ heart rates, sleep, weight, and blood pressure levels among other health related metrics. Craig Federighi, Senior VP of Software at Apple, noted that apps can now “track everything from monitoring your activity level (…) to chronic medical conditions like blood pressure and diabetes.” The Health App will allow apps that provide health and fitness information and services to showcase information in one secure place, functioning as one useful dashboard that aggregates data from multiple sources. Apple’s partnership with Mayo Clinic will let the app safely share information with users’ healthcare providers, thereby promoting more fluid and efficient communication between the primary physician and the user.
The age of the smart home is upon us. At WWDC, Apple unveiled HomeKit, a new framework for communicating and controlling connected devices in a user’s home. Apple noted that soon, users will be able to manage their home’s lights, thermostat, locks, plugs, and their garage door all from their smartphone devices. HomeKit will supposedly be synced with Siri, meaning that users will be able to utilize voice commands to say phrases like “time for bed,” which could prompt all lights, thermostats, and doors to be turned off and locked in unison. ReadWrite reports that HomeKit is designed to unify a variety of smart home products and providers; the new framework will connect them all under “a common network protocol,” making it easier for developers to create robust software. The smart internet-connected home has been a recent noteworthy topic in the tech space, especially with Google’s $3 billion acquisition of smart thermostat company Nest Labs, this past February. HomeKit’s initial partners include Honeywell, Philips, Kwikset and others.
Apple’s newest iCloud Drive will make it seamless for users to find and edit documents and photos across devices. The upgrade will keep files updated and secure as users move fluidly from device to device, an OS upgrade that undoubtedly further aligns with natural human behavior. The upgraded iCloud starts with 5GB of free space for any kind of file, which makes it an improvement from Dropbox 2GB free, but a downgrade from Google’s 15GB free offer. The improved product will allegedly let users sync and store documents on Macs, iOS devices, and Windows; Federighi specified that users can “start a new document using an iCloud-enabled app on their iOS device…and access those documents from all the user’s devices.”
Apple introduced a new 3D API that let’s game developers take advantage of Apple’s processing power to create beautiful, interactive 3D graphics. Metal is said to substantially increase the efficiency of iOS gaming and Apple claims that it will allow games to get “10x” faster draw rates.
This simple feature allows users to start an activity or task on one device, and finish it on another. According to CNET, handoff incorporates proximity awareness to users’ Apple devices. For instance, let’s say a user is writing an email on their iPhone and they want to switch to their Mac, their laptop will prompt them with the option of finishing the email. Apple claims that the devices don’t have to be right next to each other, and that the “Handoff” feature will cooperate even if the devices are across the room from one another.
Sources: The Next Web, CNet, Fast Company, Re/Code, CNNMoney