WWDC 2014 Expectations

Apple’s highly-anticipated WWDC 2014 keynote is set to take place on Monday at San Francisco’s Moscone Center and our friends at The Exigent will be covering the event live as it happens. To get you set for the event, let’s take a look at what we expect to be announced.

iOS 8

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Continuing in the iOS tradition of being updated every year, iOS 8 is expected to be announced at WWDC. Now, this isn’t expected to be a major overhaul like iOS 7 was but this should polish some of iOS 7’s rough edges.

A major new feature would be Healthbook. According to 9to5Mac, Healthbook would collect data on blood pressure, activity, heart rate, sleep, nutrition, blood sugar, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation and weight in a Passbook-like interface. Users will be able to customize their Healthbook to give priority to the health statistics that are most important to them.  Where would this data come from, you ask? This is an interesting question with not one definitive answer. The data could come from new phone components, an iWatch or accessories.

healthbook-cards

The Activity section can track steps taken, calories burned and miles walked while the Weight tab can track a person’s weight, BMI and body fat percentage. Both tabs will have an interface with graphs and charts to allow users to track their progress over daily, weekly, monthly and yearly views.

healthbook-emergency

Another important element of Healthbook is the Emergency Card function. The Emergency Card is a place for users to store information about themselves in one place. This information includes a person’s name, photograph, birthdate, blood type, organ donor status, emergency contact information, weight and a list of medical prescriptions.

New Apps

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iOS 8 could also bring three new pre-installed apps. Preview, Mac OS X’s image viewer and Textedit, OS X’s default writing tool could be making the jump to the small screens. The applications are not being designed to edit PDFs, images or text documents.

Instead, the apps are built to serve as tolls to view Preview and TextEdit files stored in iCloud. Apple added iCloud syncronization for Preview and TextEdit in OS X Mountain Lion, but has not released ways to view the synchronized content on iOS.

The applications are said to be early in development, but are being considered for a release later in the year. It is uncertain that these apps could ship with iOS 8, but it is a possibility.

Instead of using fully functional Preview and TextEdit applications on iOS, users will be encouraged to use the PDF management and editing functionality in iBooks and manage other documents via Pages.itunesradio

According to 9to5Mac, iTunes Radio could be splitting from the nest of iOS’ Music app and moving to a full-fledged app, which could increase the streaming service’s adoption.

The interface is expected to be similar to its iOS 7 counterpart. Users will be able to browse their history, purchase streamed tracks, locate Featured Stations, and create an manage stations based on songs, artists and albums.

Siri

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Apple is also working on new functionality in Siri. The personal assistant could listen to songs and automatically identify them when asked in a partnership with Shazam, according to Bloomberg.

Voice Memos

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As part of the iOS 7 design revamp, the iPhone’s Voice memos application was redesigned. The fake microphone graphic was replaced by an interactive waveform. However, some users complained that the app was difficult to navigate and that editing controls was unclear. With iOS 8, Apple will fix the problem with an improved button placement within the app.

Maps

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For iOS 8, the bug-riddled default Maps app will retain the same user interface found in iOS 7, but will have improved mapping data, better clarity and new features.

The app will add public transit directions, which has been a long-awaited feature for users in major metropolitan areas. The feature will allow people to navigate using buses, trains and subways and will include improved navigation to nearby airports.

The app will also have fine-tuned mapping data as well as a fine-tuned design. However, the app could be delayed until after iOS 8’s introduction. Apple doesn’t want to screw it up like they did last year.

Game Center

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Apple could be removing the Game Center application on iOS and OS X. Instead of centering around the Game Center app, the functionality will be found solely inside of apps that use the social gaming service.

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Apple has planned a multitasking feature that could allow iPad Air users to run two apps at once in landscape mode side-by-side. However, New York Times reporter Brian Chen claims the feature won’t be unveiled at WWDC.

In addition to allowing two iPad apps to be used at the same time, the feature is designed to allow for apps to more easily interact. For example, a user may be able to drag content, such as text, video or images from one app to another. Apple is said to be developing capabilities for developers to be able to design their apps to interact with each other.

iPad as Mac External Monitor

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Apple has been testing a new iOS feature that allows customers to connect an iPad to a Mac to use as an external monitor. This might not be ready for iOS 8, but it has been in testing. This functionality is similar to what’s seen in apps like AirDisplay.

Notifications

Notification Center, the translucent drop-down menu for managing alerts may be simplified. In iOS 8, Apple is considering reducing the panel to include solely the “Today” and “Notifications” views rather than the current “Today,” “All,” and “Missed” notification views.

VoLTE Support

Another significant addition being considered for iOS 8 and the next-generation iPhone is voice-over-LTE support (VoLTE). Currently, when an LTE-capable iPhone needs to make a phone call, the actual call is placed over 3G or other last-generation networks. With VoLTE, calls can be transmitted over LTE, which can lead to improved call quality.

Of course, this would need carrier support to actually mean anything to the end user. For those in the United States, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon have all announced VoLTE support. T-Mobile and AT&T have began rolling out the functionality in select markets, while Verizon is promising a larger rollout later this year.

Messages

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Apple is also said to be adding the ability for Messages threads in iOS 8 to automatically be deleted. This option will reportedly allow for deletions every month or every year. The functionality is being integrated so that the device’s storage space will not be clogged up by old Messages thread, which is a common problem among iOS users with old backups or outdated hardware. This will be optional, so users who never want their threads disappearing have nothing to worry about.

 

Smart Home

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The Financial Times reports that it would be an extension of Apple’s MFi Accessory program. For instance, Apple’s iOS update could unlock iPhones to more easily connect to and setup connected home devices like Nest thermostats and Hue lightbulbs.

OS X

OS X Syrah

OS X 10.10 is expected to feature a design language similar to iOS 7 with a marketing name as OS X Yosemite or OS X El Cap, as indicated by the banner image above.

Complete Redesign

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With a new design similar to the one in iOS 7, OS X 10.10 will have similar toggle designs, sharper window corners, more defined icons across the system and more white space than the current version. However, OS X mainstays such as the Finder, multi-window multitasking and Mission Control will not disappear in favor of a more iOS-like experience.

Apple is keeping their two main operating systems separate. Their convergence will solely surround aesthetics and sensible feature parity.

New Features

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While the focus of OS X 10.10 is the new deign, Apple will obviously include a slew of new features and enhancements. Possible new features include a Control Center-like panel for quickly accessing options across OS X. Other possibilities include Siri coming to the Mac and a version of AirDrop compatible with iOS’ equivalent functionality.

An improved Maps app to bring feature parity with iOS, the removal or revamp of Game Center and improvements to the App Store are all likely. We’re also hoping for bug fixes and improved Mail and iPhoto applications. It’s unclear if Apple will debut OS X 10.10 versions of its App Store apps, but updates for the iLife and iWork suites are likely with the new flatter design aesthetic.

New Hardware

Starting with the next-generation of iPhones, we are expecting 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones in late summer or early fall. However, we aren’t getting our hopes up for a WWDC announcement.

We could also be receiving an iWatch, which wouldn’t just be an accessory for telling time or receiving phone notifications. It could track health stats (perfect for the Healthbook feature mentioned earlier). iWatch is expected to be announced later this year.

We could also be seeing a 13-inch iPad Pro with Touch ID support as well as a Surface-like connected keyboard. However, plans for the product are on hold.

We are also expecting an updated Apple TV, possibly with live video content thanks to cable companies, Siri support and more third-party apps.

On the Mac side, we’re expecting a slimmer 12-inch MacBook Air with Retina display later this year. The chances for this popping up at WWDC are slim.

Beats

Lastly, Apple just spent $3 billion to acquire Beats Electronics. If you were expecting a bombshell announcement at WWDC, you might be disappointed. We aren’t expecting much more than a recap of the deal.

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