DE­VEL­OPER CHRIST­MAS IN JUNE

HWM (Singapore) - - Think -

The iTunes App Store is huge. It’s long been taken for granted that if there’s any­thing you want to do on an iOS de­vice, there’s an app for that. Af­ter WWDC, the same slo­gan can be ap­plied to de­vel­op­ers: if there’s any­thing you want to build, there’s an API or a ‘Kit’ for that.

The afore­men­tioned No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­ter wid­gets and third-party key­boards are just two as­pects of the big­ger ‘Ex­ten­si­bil­ity’ pic­ture on iOS 8. In the sim­plest terms, this lets apps talk to and work with one an­other, all while ad­her­ing to Ap­ple’s sand­box­ing model, so ex­ten­sions can’t just reach out to a part of the OS they don’t be­long to or grab your pri­vate data with­out your ex­plicit ap­proval. It’s still sand­boxes in­ter­act­ing with sand­boxes.

And this is huge on iOS, more so than OS X, which gets ex­ten­sions too (in­ter-app com­mu­ni­ca­tions have al­ways been pos­si­ble on the desk­top OS). Imag­ine 1Pass­word fill­ing in lo­gin data in Sa­fari with­out you re­sort­ing to the cum­ber­some copy-and­paste method. Or the Cam­era app us­ing that awe­some fil­ter pack you just bought for VSCO Cam. Or us­ing your bank cre­den­tials to pay for that bid on eBay (since Ap­ple is also open­ing up Touch ID to de­vel­op­ers). This is multi-task­ing and pro­duc­tiv­ity su­per­charged, and we’ve no doubt it will cre­ate a new cat­e­gory of apps never seen be­fore on Ap­ple’s plat­forms.

And of the var­i­ous ‘Kits’ un­veiled, HomeKit and HealthKit are the ob­vi­ous stand­outs. In a nut­shell, Home Kit is a frame­work that al­lows smart home de­vices to in­te­grate with iOS, so that users can eas­ily con­trol them with a press of a but­ton in No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­ter or over a Siri voice com­mand. Ap­ple is al­ready part­ner­ing with the who’s who in this space, like Philips, Withings, Broadcom, Haier, Honey­well, iHome, Texas In­stru­ments, and more, so don’t be sur­prised to see Ap­ple MFi la­bels every­where the next time you’re shop­ping for an air con­di­tioner.

If that sounds ‘meh’, imag­ine the po­ten­tial when that ties in with the ex­ten­si­bil­ity con­cept. It will come to a point where all you need is to walk up to, say within 10 me­ters of your front door, iPhone in pocket, to ini­ti­ate a chain of events: the Au­gust smart door lock un­locks it­self, Philips Hue turns on your bath­room light, Sonos loads your fa­vorite playlist, Belkin WeMo flicks the switch to al­low the ket­tle to boil - well, you get the idea. With over 800 mil­lion iOS de­vices out there, Ap­ple could very well turn into the big­gest smart home player overnight.

And then there’s HealthKit, a one-stop hub for all your health and fit­ness track­ing de­vices. Again, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less as apps are now able to share data with an­other. For ex­am­ple, Mayo Clinic (a non­profit med­i­cal prac­tice and med­i­cal re­search group in the U.S.) will use HealthKit to pro­vide guid­ance on the user’s health, or even put the user in touch with the hospi­tal if it knows that some­thing is amiss. De­spite be­ing a move that could po­ten­tial dis­rupt the for­mal health care sec­tor, Ap­ple didn’t go into great length about HealthKit and Health, which is the app that users will see. Our the­ory? Ap­ple is sav­ing the am­mu­ni­tion for the iWatch re­veal, which is widely ru­mored to be hap­pen­ing in Oc­to­ber.

In more ways than one, this year’s WWDC reaf­firms the age-old no­tion that soft­ware de­fines ev­ery­thing, and that user ex­pe­ri­ence is king. Even as of this writ­ing, which is a week af­ter WWDC, we’re still read­ing about new fea­tures in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, those re­main­ing thou­sands that Ap­ple had no time to fit in a two-hour key­note. Like many oth­ers, we did en­ter­tain the thought that per­haps Ap­ple has lost its way and its abil­ity to in­no­vate - but af­ter WWDC, we no longer think so. The rea­son why there’s still no iWatch or Ap­ple TV set yet is sim­ple enough: Ap­ple has long iden­ti­fied its weak­nesses, and in­stead of patch­ing things up, it has taken the painful de­ci­sion to de­stroy what worked be­fore, and re­build­ing them from scratch for the fu­ture. And these take time. The iOS and OS X re­design is just the be­gin­ning of the ren­o­va­tion, and the things we saw at WWDC are the new tiles, the new pipes, the new wires (sorry, we had no time for CloudKit, SceneKit, and Metal). Now that the foun­da­tions are laid, it’s time to fur­nish the new house. No won­der Ap­ple went on a de­vel­oper charm of­fen­sive.

Be­sides wid­gets in the No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­ter, Ap­ple now al­lows de­vel­op­ers to em­bed fil­ters and tools right into the Pho­tos app.

The new Health app in iOS 8 lets you view your most re­cent health and fit­ness data in one dash­board.

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