There’s 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 new on the Apple horizon. This year I will have the pleasure to see it all unfold live in San Fran, and aside from the expected hardware refreshes to the iPhone, I feel we’ll see some exciting announcements which will again change the way that we interact with Apple products.
Ok, iOS9 is a given to receive a refresh, but it will be interesting to see what Apple do with the operating system this year around. I don’t think we will see any major changes such as the ones introduced in iOS7, however, I think we’ll see a lot more convenience functionality introduced for managing the home and the family.
I feel this release will contain a lot of new features which will enhance the way we share devices amongst 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, as well being able to minimise emails in iOS8 are examples which have aided users in the ability to truly multi task. This year it is rumoured that side by side applications will be introduced which will 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.
Stand alone watch kit apps
Since the release of the Apple Watch last month, the number of apps released with watch support has been increasing steadily – the bottleneck for all of them however is that they are currently heavily tied to the iPhone and require a parent application in order to be executed on the Watch.
I believe Apple released the Watch SDK 1.0 with a very cut back interface deliberately to train developers and users with “what works” on the device. A few more API’s 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.
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 that they were using Bluetooth instead on it’s 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 where a NFC API would allow developers to deliver some really amazing user experiences.
At the Apple Watch release earlier this year, Apple dropped the price of the Apple TV to $69, a signal that there was a potential update coming to the device which 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, making their own content and apps on a variety of niche and speciality topics, but fitting into a larger TV ecosystem including the existing big players.
I believe the Apple TV will also have a larger part to play in the roll out of HomeKit devices later next month. Our lives seem to be revolving more and more around our television, so it makes sense that the TV also become a central control hub for controlling the home. I’d like to see a HomeKit application for the TV introduced which gives users the ability to monitor power usage, heating and cooling, control lighting and power from a single dashboard.
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 which will tie the Apple ecosystem together and make iOS9 and the AppleTV 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 meet ups happening throughout the conference.
Let’s catch up whilst over there! Send me a message on Twitter – @forbze.
This blog post was also posted on my companies blog.