This year’s WWDC keynote was jam-packed with new technologies destined for the next versions of iOS and OS X. While this is great news for users, a number of developers who will soon be competing directly with Apple may not welcome the innovations.
iCloud has matured into an essential element of the Apple ecosystem. With the introduction of iCloud Drive, services such as Dropbox will face pressure from Cupertino’s aggressive pricing and iCloud Drive’s seamless integration with iOS, OS X, and even Windows.
OS X Yosemite will allow users to make screen recordings from compatible iOS devices. This capability targets developers who wish to create software previews for the App Store—but it will compete with apps that provide such functionality for a fee, such as Squirrels’ Reflector (airsquirrels.com).
When it comes to creating productivity tools for programmers, Apple often borrows ideas from its own developer ecosystem. This year is no exception. The latest version of Xcode is designed to make writing apps easier than ever, with the ability to “explode” an app’s visual make-up in 3D—pretty much what Itty Bitty Apps’ Reveal (revealapp.com) does.
OS X Yosemite includes the most significant reimagining of Spotlight in years—the search tool has a new look and added functionality. Many of these new features draw inspiration from popular launch assistants such as Running with Crayons’ Alfred (alfredapp.com).
BETA APP DISTRIBUTION
Beta app distribution gets a major overhaul in iOS 8, thanks largely to Apple’s acquisition of Burstly, developer of the TestFlight beta-testing service (testflightapp.com). That puts pressure on other companies in this space, such as HockeyApp (hockeyapp.net), although they still have the upper hand in cross-platform support.
iOS 8 comes with a host of goodies: separate focus and light-metering areas, the Photos app’s all-new editing and management capabilities, support for time-lapse photography and third-party filters, and so on. Apple is making a bid to cement the iPhone’s status as the casual shooter’s platform of choice —which poses a challenge to third-party photo apps such as TapTapTap’s Camera Plus (campl.us).
Apps such as Evernote’s Skitch (evernote.com/skitch) will have to step up their game to vie with Mail’s new Markup feature, which allows users to draw, sign, and highlight documents and attachments.
Messages gains support for location sharing, video and audio messages, and SMS text messaging. Apple is clearly going after the many competitors in this space, including Microsoft’s Skype (skype.com) and Facebook’s WhatsApp Messenger (whatsapp.com).
THE INTERNET OF THINGS
Apple aims to position itself at the center of the so-called Internet of Things with the introduction of two new technologies: HealthKit (www.apple.com/ios/ios8/health/) and HomeKit (developer.apple.com/homekit/). The company’s focus on privacy in this arena pits it against Google, which caused an uproar when it revealed its plans to sell ads on all sorts of devices (techcrunch.com/2014/05/21/google-anticipates-serving-ads-to-thermostats-refrigerators-cars-and-more/).