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Apple's WWDC keynote at 1 pm Eastern will finally settle rumors

John Cox | June 3, 2014
At 1 pm Eastern today, Apple introduces its newest software updates to a group of 5,000 avid developers at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Very little is known, but much is speculated about what the company will unveil, especially given the promise of "new product categories" to be introduced in 2014.

At 1 pm Eastern today, Apple introduces its newest software updates to a group of 5,000 avid developers at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Very little is known, but much is speculated about what the company will unveil, especially given the promise of "new product categories" to be introduced in 2014.

iOS 8

Most of the attention will be focused on the next release of iOS, Apple's primary software platform. Very little is known about iOS 8.

The UI revisions last year in iOS 7 were controversial for some, representing a major change in the "look and feel" of the mobile platform. It's likely last year was simply the first stage, and that iOS 8 may represent a further refinement and fleshing out of iOS 7.

One of the few genuine iOS 8 leaks seems to be about a new app, or rather a new locus for apps, called Health Book (Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac has done most of the solid reporting on this.) It seems to be modeled on the iOS Passbook app, but intended as a central location for fitness, lifestyle, and health information. Bluetooth LE may be a key, to link iOS with data and apps on fitness and health devices.

Another recent rumor, concerns using iOS, or a subset of it, to turn the iPhone into a remote control for a range of network-based home automation systems, such as lights, security, home entertainment, and appliances. The Financial Times last week posted a story headlined "Apple sees the light in push for Jetsons-style home automation." [Subscription is required to read it.] 

Apple's iBeacon specification, which Apple bases on Bluetooth 4.0 (also known as Bluetooth Low Energy) may be part of this network/Internet of things. There have been a variety of software platforms aimed at home/office automation systems, which have achieved varying levels of success. Apple may intend to leverage the millions of iPhones in existence, and the familiar iOS user interface, to create a home automation platform that has almost at the start a very large user base.

Besides Healthbook, it has been rumored that Apple is porting TextEdit and Preview apps from OS X, and preparing a separate iTunes Radio app. Many expect improvements for Maps, Notification Center, and Messages, among others, and possibly enabling communications between apps. And there is an expectation that the Touch ID fingerprint sensor will be expanded to include all future iPhones and iPads, and the software for it may be extended to begin to act as an authentication/authorization tool, perhaps as a precursor to a future mobile payments system.

Another possible change, or at least one sought by some such as iMore.com chief Rene Ritchie, is for interactive push notifications notifications that also let you take an action in response to the alert.

 

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