Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference runs from June 2-6, and The Globe and Mail will be there. While the event is primarily designed as an opportunity for Apple’s engineers hold court with the thousands of developers that design software Apple’s computers and mobile devices run, WWDC has also earned a reputation as a launch pad for new Apple software, operating systems and on occasion, the odd piece of new hardware. Apple never confirms rumours, but here’s what we think you expect to see this year:
WWDC’s primary focus is on software for all those developers who pay a lot of money to attend the conference, so it’s a safe bet that Apple will reveal the next iteration of its mobile operating system, likely called iOS 8.
We can expect to see further tweaking of the operating system’s graphical user interface, with more of the same flat design elements that Jony Ive and his team introduced to iPhone and iPad users last year with iOS 7. It’s also possible that we might see improvements to iTunes Radio (Apple’s in-house streaming music service which isn’t available in Canada as of yet,) or a complete retooling of the service in light of Apple’s recently announced acquisition of Beats Audio and the Beats Music service (also, as of yet unavailable in Canada. We can’t have nice things).
It’s a given that Apple’s software engineers will have poured a considerable amount of effort into their much maligned Maps app. Hopefully, this will be the year that they get it right and provide iOS users with a free, safe and viable alternative to Google’s excellent Google Maps app.
According to 9to5Mac, iOS users, developers and after-market accessory manufactures may also be given a first look at something called HealthBook, Apple’s first crack at producing an in-house fitness tracking solution. According to images and information secured by 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman, HealthBook could include facilities for tracking an iPhone user’s diet, sleep patterns, hydration level and activity rate. There’s also indications Apple wants to give customers access to deeper-dive personal health information such as blood oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, heart rate and blood sugar levels. All of this information would be logged in a single, easy-to-use application that could be synced with a computer, or iCloud, for long-term tracking or monitoring by a healthcare professional. Much of this information such as diet, hydration and activity could be either be entered by a user or monitored by the iPhone’s motion co-processor. Other data, such as heart rate, blood sugar and respiration rate would require the use of third-party sensors designed to work with iOS under Apple’s MFi Program.
Unless of course Apple were to develop their own wearable device that incorporates a number of health tracking technologies, which brings us to…
Apple’s mythical wrist-worn iOS companion device may not be called an iWatch at all. But that’s what everyone else is calling it, so let’s roll with it.
The iWatch will purportedly be designed to provide iOS users with the ability to read and compose messages from a wide number of social media applications, e-mail and text messages, control music apps or see who’s calling their iPhone without ever pulling their handsets out of their pocket. Information will be served up on the iWatch wearer’s wrist – it’s all very Dick Tracey and similar in nature to the Pebble Smartwatch, or in the case of Android users, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear Smartwatch or the Qualcomm Toq. It’s also widely expected that the iWatch will incorporate fitness tracking technology similar to that seen in the FitBit Force or Nike FuelBand. That HealthBook is in development leads credence to this theory.
But here’s the thing: Most news outlets agree that it exists. But no one can agree on when it will launch.