Apple went back its roots at its WWDC conference with a slew of software enhancements and upgrades for both Mac OS and iOS platform but no hardware unveilings to speak of.
Apple showed off its new iOS 8 operating system, which boasts new storage and messaging features that mimic the likes of Dropbox, Whatsapp and Snapchat, as well as new enterprise capabilities.
Meanwhile, Mac OS Yosemite will share the translucent look of iOS, and has the ability to answer phone calls too.
With so many new software additions and upgrades, it seems Apple is gearing up to launch a wave of new hardware and wants the software to back it up, according Geoff Blaber, vice president of research for the Americas at CCS Insight.
“Critics may complain of a lack of new devices but WWDC creates the foundation for the products [Apple CEO] Tim Cook is promising in the second half of 2014 and beyond,” he said.
While some may have been disappointed by the lack of any hardware announcements, analyst Nick Dillon of Ovum told V3 it was not that surprising as historically WWDC has been focused on software.
“They sometimes drop one or two hardware announcements, refreshing existing products perhaps, so people are used to that, but it’s not that significant they didn’t this time,” he said.
However, while Apple offered no hints on any future hardware plans, there were several notable software developments to be considered, including a softening of the company's stance on interoperability between apps.
Dillon said this was perhaps the most notable announcement of the show: “This is something that Android and Windows Phone does a lot better. For example, with iOS if you take a photo and then want to add it to Instagram, you have to leave the photo app, then open Instagram,” he said.
“With other platforms you can just switch from one app to the other instantly, without going via the homescreen. This is perhaps not the most ‘sexy’ tweak but will lead to a better user experience.”
Otherwise, Dillon said the slew of updates from Apple, which mostly ape tools already on the market such as from Dropbox or Whatsapp, underlined the maturity of mobile software, as firms have little to differentiate themselves with.
Alongside the upgrades to its operating systems, Apple also unveiled new tools aimed at the healthcare and smart home markets where, like Google, it sees a lot of potential for future growth.
CCS Insight's Blaber said: “Apple is adopting a platform strategy to monetise new segments in automotive, healthcare and the home. Instead of trying to deliver everything itself, the company is enabling others to connect into the platform and between applications.
“The arms race with Google for control of contextual services, the home, automotive, healthcare and the engagement of developers has never been more evident and is set to drive significant near-term investment.”
The Healthkit offering was touted by analyst Enrique Velasco-Castillo, of Analysys Mason's Digital Economy research unit, as an example of Apple exploring a new market area, but without too much upfront effort.
“With HealthKit, Apple takes tentative steps once again to enter a new vertical, in a way that is reminiscent of how Passbook has been an exploratory foray into mobile payments,” he said.
“In the meantime Apple is likely to continue developing an ecosystem centred on fitness and wellness. Crucially, it seems to be delegating the responsibility for compliance and data security to app developers and third-party device vendors.”
Ovum's Dillon added that Apple's move into these areas could be a catalyst to improve the development of Internet of Things technologies.
"The HomeKit and HealthKit tools show Apple moving into connected markets where there is definitely growth potential," he told V3.
"The Internet of Things is very fragmented at present, so anything that can smooth over the cracks of the silos that exist is to be welcomed.”
For Apple fans there will now be a few months wait before these tools arrive on their devices. While the lack of hardware at WWDC will have disappointed some, there is plenty to consider before Tim Cook takes to the stage again later this year.
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