Apple WWDC 2014: Heavy on apps, services, tweaks

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Apple CEO Tim Cook walks off stage after speaking at WWDC on Monday. Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Apple introduced a bevy of apps and services at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday, including important updates to its mobile operating system and a new developer programming language.

There were no stunning surprises today, which was mostly a day of fine-tuning and nice little tweaks that were more evolutionary than revolutionary in scope. Apple also made headlines with a technology that will help people using its devices move content across different devices more easily.

Anyone hoping to hear news about much-rumored devices such as Apple’s “iWatch,” new iPhones, or a “connected television” will have to wait a bit longer. Still, it was an impressive demonstration of technology muscle-flexing as Apple made a strong case that it understands how to integrate consumer software and technology devices better than its chief competitors.

“You’ve seen how our operating systems, devices, and services work in harmony,” said CEO Tim Cook, adding that the upshot was “seamless experience for our users that is unparalleled in the industry. This is something only Apple can do.”

On Wall Street, though, it was a “buy on the rumor,” “sell on the news” reaction as the stock dropped about 1 percent after rallying 8 percent in the month leading up to Monday’s announcements. The investor reaction wasn’t a surprise given that Apple has a six-year streak of selling off the day of and day after the WWDC conference, according to BTIG Research.

The highlights included:

Mac OS X Yosemite: Apple gave its Mac operating system a new name and a redesigned user interface, dumping its flat icons and minimalist style. The aesthetic idea here, said Craig Federighi, was to create a clearer, more refined interface for Macs, declaring that “all in all they come together for a gorgeous and more usable version of OS X, the best ever.” The selection of the name Yosemite marks the second Apple update named after a California location. It will be available later this summer as a public beta before getting officially released this fall as a free download.


iOS 8: Cook called it a “giant release,” for both users and developers as Apple introduced its latest update to its mobile operating system. Though not as big an overhaul as the changes announced at last year’s WWDC, Apple responded to requested fixes and the new iteration of its mobile operating system includes several tweaks and refinements. Some of the biggest changes for the software are interactive notifications and more fluid tie-ins with Apple’s desktop OS X software.


Health: As expected, Apple introduced an app called Health as part of iOS 8, combining data from myriad apps and even fitness accessories into one repository. Nike was named as one company that will enable its data into Health. A picture of a Fitbit next to the iPhone suggests that it won’t be the only fitness device to get quick support.


Safari: Apple announced myriad updates to its Safari Internet browser, which will sport an interface with better integration with the upcoming changes in Yosemite. When the browser ships with Yosemite in the fall it will sport an overhauled Private Mode, Spotlight search integration in the search-location bar, improved tab view, faster JavaScript, and better sharing options.


Handoff: A new feature called Handoff offers what Apple terms proximity awareness to your Apple devices. So, for instance, if you pick up an iPad you can swipe up on screen and it will pick up what you were working on at your Mac. It also works in the other direction. AirDrop works between iOS and the Mac.


iCloud Drive: This new feature will be part of OS X Yosemite and and let you synchronize content across devices including, lo and behold, Windows PCs. The feature lets users work within the document and store files however they want with help from folders and tags. The addition of syncing lets users add content to the iCloud folder that automatically syncs to other Macs. That information is also accessible via iCloud on iOS devices, as well as Windows-based PCs.




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