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For Apple, it's all about platforms now

Ryan Faas | June 2, 2014
Integration is the key and developers are the glue

An Apple-designed smart home or home automation system.

An iOS 8 app designed to aggregate fitness and medical data across a broad range of categories, including metrics for tracking and managing chronic diseases.

A potential expansion of the capabilities of Apple's in-dash CarPlay system that could include wireless rather than wired connectivity and may clarify how Apple will choose apps available through the CarPlay interface as well as expand the list of allowed apps.

Advances in Apple's location and navigation services that will likely include mass transit data as well as indoor positioning technologies, perhaps leveraging Apple's iBeacon platform.

A next-generation Apple TV with greater capabilities and possibly its own app SDK and marketplace.

Official acknowledgment of an iWatch, if not substantial details about it.

New, larger iPhone models and the addition of Touch ID to all future iOS devices.

A refreshed iMac lineup at lower prices than current models.

Looking through that list, there's a consistent thread of solutions that aggregate data or content from varying sources and make it actionable on the part of users.

A home automation and media system, for which Apple just filed a patent application, would be a logical extension of the current Apple TV. A device connected to a home network that supports wired network, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity could aggregate a vast array of smart devices from light bulbs to deadbolts because it encompasses the handful of technologies used by the manufacturers of such products. A single interface, in this case likely a new version of an Apple TV that is more of an appliance than an iOS device -- or even a desktop Mac -- would be a great solution for a single point of control and offer a unified interface for users. Such a system could also rely on Apple's iBeacon support as a mechanism for automating home functions based on proximity to an iOS device as well as broadcast data to users.

The idea of aggregating wellness, fitness and medical data into a single device would likely rely on a similar convergence of technologies. Although there are rumors that Apple is building a sensor array into an iWatch that could handle everything from activity to blood glucose, blood pressure, respiration and even sleep tracking (Samsung is also developing such a device), there's already a range of connected devices that people use to collect this data. Among the devices already in use are various activity trackers, Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuffs and glucose monitors and Wi-Fi enabled scales. In addition to building its own hardware, Apple could attract a great many more users by accepting data from these devices -- and it would allow Apple to build mind share and market share before an iWatch comes to market.


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