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Apple's next big thing might not be the stuff of rumors

Michael Simon | March 23, 2015
Apple and rumors go hand in hand. Back when I first started writing about Apple, I worked for a website called Spymac that purported to have "top secret" information about the next big things. (We didn't.) Think Secret ended up getting sued after leaking details of the original Mac mini and iWork. 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman publishes remarkably accurate reports that light up the Internet. And Crazy Apple Rumors still mocks us all.

It's not as much about Apple Watch's health tracking capabilities as it is about the iPhone and iOS. To truly gain traction there needs to be a central, secure location where patients and doctors can easily access and share information. Your Health app might be filled with a lot of blank pages right now, but as Apple expands the reach of HealthKit and forges more partnerships with medical providers, it's going to become an indispensable part of our lives. The ability to carry a complete dossier of medical information into a doctor's office could be a tremendous boon to the iPhone, with the potential to transform a trillion dollar industry.

Such an undertaking isn't going to happen overnight. Even with an app already in place, it's going to require a significant focus and investment from Apple as it continues to leverage the power of iOS and the iPhone to create a seamless, integrated world that actually helps us live longer and healthier.

Internet of screens

Apple already owns the screens in our pockets and on our desks (and soon the ones on our wrists), but there are still two major screens it doesn't completely control: navigation and television. Rumors popped up this week that Apple would unveil a subscription streaming TV service at WWDC. It's unclear what channels the service will initially include, but more intriguing than cord-cutting is the prospect of elevating Apple TV to something that needs to be in people's homes. A TV service would go a long way toward creating a tighter level of integration between all of our devices, both by adding value and creating a dependency.

With a fresh price cut to $69, Apple TV isn't exactly a cash cow, but that's not the point. Apple doesn't need to make gobs of money by selling the receiver or even the subscription service — it's about lock-in and visibility. Once Apple TV becomes more than an on-demand device, the ecosystem becomes exponentially more valuable. We can watch live TV on our iPhones and iPads, get reminders about upcoming events on our Watches, and use Siri to control it all. And when we flip on the biggest screen in the house, Apple will be there.

And then there's HomeKit. The latest Apple TV software beta release "can be used for testing AirPlay and HomeKit with your iOS apps," helping enable communication between your iPhone and Apple Watch, and all of the HomeKit-compatible cameras, locks, and light bulbs in your house. Again, I don't expect Apple to make any of its own devices in this space (apart from the occasional acquisition), but the integration is important. By tying together all of the gadgets and screens in our homes with iOS and iCloud, Apple becomes a sort of personal Internet utility, ready to push the content we need to the screen we're using, whether it's a message or a movie.


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