May 28, 2015

A WWDC Apple announcement ‘wish-list’

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Six announcements I hope to hear from Apple at WWDC 2015…

 

There are now just two weeks until the annual Apple developer announcements, and like every year, those of us in Australia get up in the very early hours of the morning to find out what’s on the Apple horizon. This year, I will have the pleasure of seeing it all unfold live in San Fran at the Worldwide Developers Conference. Aside from the expected hardware refreshes to the iPhone, I feel we’ll see some exciting announcements that will again change the way we interact with Apple products.

iOS9

Okay, iOS9 is a given to receive a refresh, but it will be interesting to see what Apple will do with the operating system this year around. I don’t think we will see any major changes like the ones introduced in iOS7, however I think we’ll see a lot more convenience functionality introduced for managing the home and the family.

Shared devices

I feel this release will contain a lot of new features that will enhance the way we share devices among different members of the family, as well as different “modes” for business/personal use. An important feature for enabling this would be multi-user support. Apple will want to make this as seamless as possible for users, but there will be some tough technical challenges for them to solve – such as privacy controls so that you can’t access another users application data.

Side-by-side applications

Apple has gradually been moving us towards multi-tasking on their devices over the last few iterations of the operating system. Introductions such as background task support in iOS7 and being able to minimise emails in iOS8, for examples, have aided users in the ability to truly multi-task. This year it is rumoured side-by-side applications will be introduced that allow the user to run two applications at the same time in a split screen. Perhaps combined with a larger iPad – this will please a lot of business users.

Standalone watch kit apps

Since the launch of the Apple Watch last month (I wrote about this in my personal blog here), the number of apps released with watch support has been increasing steadily – the bottleneck for all of the, however, is that they are currently heavily tied to the iPhone and require a parent application in order to be executed on the Watch.

Apple released the Watch SDK 1.0 with a very cut back interface; I believe they did this deliberately to train developers and users “what works” on the device. A few more APIs and the ability to release a watch app without the requirement to have an accompanying iPhone application will give developers more flexibility and allow them to innovate more.

NFCKit

When the Apple watch was announced, the one application that stood out to me was the Starwood Hotels application, which allowed customers to seamlessly check in and open their room door without talking to the concierge. At the time, I thought they must have partnered with Apple to get access to the NFC chip on the device, but a little more research indicated they were using Bluetooth instead on Apple applications.

As of now, Apple has locked the NFC chips in its devices, making them usable for Apple Pay mobile payments only; however, there are a number of applications for which an NFC API would allow developers to deliver some really amazing user experiences.

Apple TV

At the Apple Watch release earlier this year, Apple dropped the price of the Apple TV to $69 – a signal there was a potential update coming to the device that has been a ‘hobby project’ to date.

An updated device and remote control have been rumoured, but I am personally more excited about the prospect of a dedicated API for TV – TVKit. The cord cutters out there should also be quite excited by this. I love the thought that anyone could essentially be a home TV producer, creating their own content and apps around a variety of niche and speciality topics while fitting into a larger TV ecosystem including the existing big players.

HomeKit support

I believe the Apple TV will also have a larger part to play in the rollout of HomeKit devices later next month. Our lives seem to be revolving more and more around our televisions, so it makes sense the TV has also become a central control hub for controlling the home. I’d like to see a HomeKit application for the TV introduced that gives users the ability to monitor power usage and control heating/cooling, lighting and power from a single dashboard.

 

In general, I’m really looking forward to this year’s WWDC. The hype isn’t as big as previous years, but I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised. There will hopefully be some important announcements that will tie the Apple ecosystem together and make iOS9 and Apple TV the “epicentre” for the home and family.

Heading over to WWDC?

If you’re heading to San Fran this year and you want to find out information about all the great events happening all over the city, check out the great app WWDC Parties. It’s a great summary of all the traditions, parties and Meetups happening throughout the conference.

Let’s catch up while over there! Send me a message on Twitter – @forbze.

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Categorised in: Digital, Innovation, Technology

This post was written by Steve Forbes