Apple used its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) to unveil its iOS 8 operating system with technology clearly aimed at making iOS devices central to healthcare and connected homes.
Speaking on stage in San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook (pictured) said that the company has now sold “well over” 800 million iOS devices, including 200 million iPads and more than 500 million iPhones.
In addition, over the past 12 months, 130 million new iOS customers were buying Apple devices for the first time. “Many of these customers were switchers from Android,” Cook noted, adding that nearly half of customers in China over the past six months switched from Android to iPhone.
Cook also touted the fact that the majority of iOS users are using the latest version of iOS, with 89 per cent of users running iOS 7 on their device. This compares to just 9 per cent of Android users running the latest KitKat version of the Google OS.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, introduced the HealthKit API which he said solves the issue of health information being siloed by providing “a single place that applications contribute to a composite profile of your activity and health”.
Along with the API, Apple’s Health app monitors health data, such as calories and sleep patterns, and can be integrated with third party apps such as the Nike+ fitness app.
The Health app is also able to communicate with hospitals if certain metrics, such as blood pressure, are outside the healthy parameters defined for individual users.
“We think this is going to be really important for healthcare,” Federighi noted.
iOS 8, which will be released alongside new hardware in the autumn, will also address the connected home. The HomeKit API allows users to control connected devices which often have their own app, such as thermostats, door locks and web cams, from their iOS device. This also includes integration of the Siri voice recognition technology.
“We thought we could bring some rationality to this space,” said Federighi.
The Messages app (the most-used on iOS devices) will also be updated with iOS 8 to include the ability to share location, opt-out of group conversation threads and send voice and video messages. In a similar way to Snapchat, video and voice messages will self-destruct after they have been accessed, unless users specify that they want to keep them.
Other additions, some of which bring iOS 8 up to speed with functionality seen on Android, include the Continuity function which allows users to switch devices when editing documents, enables iPhone messages to appear on an iPad, and sets up Wi-Fi hotspots without configuration.
iOS 8 also includes a refined notification centre and lock screen, within which users can interact with apps. Users will also be able to double tap the home button to see the contacts they most frequently communicate with.
The Spotlight search has been improved, while the QuickType functionality brings improved predictive text functionality.