Apple iOS 8 Summarized in Four Words: IOT, UX, Enterprise, Swift
By Jim Lundy
Apple kicked off their 25th Worldwide Developer Conference on June 2, 2014 with a preview of its new Operating Systems OS X and iOS 8. As is typical at WWDC, Apple made no new hardware announcements. That said, many of their Software feature announcements will help to power new hardware devices that we expect to be announced in the Fall of 2014. This blog is all about the major messages they delivered about the upcoming release of iOS 8, Apple’s eighth major release of iOS since the release of the iPhone in 2007.
From an overview perspective, this year’s keynote was packed with more new capabilities than we have seen in years. It may not be apparent, but our analysis is that Apple is preparing to be a major player in IoT.
iOS 8 and IoT: HomeKit
The Internet of Things a.k.a. IoT is a Hot Topic these days. We heard about it two weeks ago at Cisco Live, where we saw Cisco Prime Powering and helping to manage Commercial Buildings. Google has also made moves in IoT as well. Apple, not to be outdone by Google’s recent moves by Google (e.g. Google purchased Nest), Apple announced HomeKit, and the ability to manage individual devices (lights, doors) and groups of devices. This suggests and implies that there will be accessories available from Apple partners that enable you to control your home from your iOS Device. The other key factor is that Siri will be integrated with HomeKit, so voice commands to unlock door or Turnoff lights will be easy to do.
It may not be apparent but with iOS 8, we are stepping into the future. Homes will be much easier to control, monitor and manage remotely and all with a Voice Command. We also expect to see more developments with regard to CarPlay—which is Apples IoT offering for cars.
iOS 8 and IoT: HealthKit
Apple HealthKit may be the biggest signal yet about the forthcoming iWatch. Apple announced HealthKit along with its own App called Health. Regarding HealthKit, Apple announced HealthKit partners, such as Mayo Clinic, EPIC Systems and Nike. The Mayo Clinic discussion, which was screenshots only, talked about the future of Healthcare IT—in which the communications is Mobilized.
On the fitness front as well, only screenshots were shared about Nike—nothing else. Note that Nike recently indicated that it was shifting strategy (it had small layoffs in its Fuelband team), but the Nike Sport Division is alive and well—and most likely is working on the new apps for the Apple iWatch.
iOS 8 and UX: Wearable Preview and 3D Graphics
There were many many updates to iOS 8, some of them having to do with better multi-tasking, so that invites and messages could be replied to without leaving the app you were in. We will talk about more of the benefits of UX Improvements as iOS 8 gets closer to launch. However the big message we were left with is that Apple was actually previewing features in iOS 8 that will be very useful for its future wearable devices.
Another major move however had to do with how rich 3D environments can be rendered on iOS using an interface called Metal. Apple had several partners demo their apps (Visual Garden), a movie and a Game that were of such high quality that you would normally expect to see them on a Console Game device such as XBOX or a Sony Playstation.
iOS 8 and Enterprise
Apple’s Craig Federighi uttered the words Enterprise and then showed what is doing a lot to make it easier for Enterprises to deal with and manage Apple devices, which was not limited to just iOS 8. The highlights of Apple’s Increased focus on Enterprise:
Increased Security including encrypting individual messages using the S/MIME protocol. Passwords will also be able to be invoked for Apps as well, including Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, Notes and Reminders apps. Apps from third party providers will also be able to be password protected.
One of the biggest subtle changes to Touch ID—the fingerprint based biometric login for iPhone 5s (and future Apple devices) is that Touch ID will be enabled for Third party apps. Touch ID is fast and so far it is secure. Enabling third party app support also means that fewer passwords will need to be typed, which lessens the chance of them being stolen.
Support for Content across apps. Documents can be accessed via multiple apps and from multiple repositories. Apple calls this Document Picker (see Apple Reference).
App Bundles: It will now be easier for Enterprises to sell and buy bundles of Apps as well as making it easier for enterprises to beta test them
Device Enrollment Plan: This may be one of the surprise hits of iOS 8 and OS X 10. Device Enrollment will allow devices to auto setup mail and calendar as well as install enterprise apps. This is clearly a signal that Apple is more serious about the enterprise. While large enterprises will still count on Enterprise Mobile Management for their device populations, Device Enrollment will be a boon to SMBs.
Additionally, Apple added numerous features designed to make it easier to accomplish work using iOS 8. One of these was Quicktype—essentially predictive typing. On top of that, Apple will now allow third-party soft keyboards to be configured for iOS 8. This was clearly a shot against Android and Blackberry.
Some of the other areas:
Handoff allows tasks started on one Apple device (an iPad) to be completed on another. This will be a boon to road warriors that start a task and need to run to the airport. Starting a document on a Mac and then continuing to work on it on your iPhone sounds like a feature I’d use a lot.
Notification Center will now allow third-party apps and messages to be included. This opens up a lot of possibilities for just in time updates.
Phone Calls from a Mac using iPhone: This was a cool feature and is intended to focus on workers and the seamless way that Apple devices can interchange work activities. Texting from OS X to iOS Devices is also included in iOS 8. This is not new, since iMessage worked pretty well in iOS 7 and Mavericks.
iOS 8 Swift: New Development Language
Apple threw down a gauntlet at developers—a new development language called Swift, which will be capable of running side by side with existing Objective C code. Swift is really all about keeping developers in the Apple camp and our take is that Apple did a great job with this. This is besides the fact that Swift is a true scripting language, which means more code can be written and the outcomes can be seen in real-time.
It also appears that Apple really took its time developing Swift. Swift is efficient and besides being terse (fewer commands to get things done), Swift is also has playgrounds—the ability to develop and test in an easy way. This could be one of the bigger benefits of Swift, which means that younger developers may be drawn to it.
So, Apple has been busy in the last twelve months and because of Swift, the last few years. The Software announcements that Apple makes at WWDC have subtle but important hints about future products. Based on what we saw, we agree with Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP. This will be one of the biggest new product introduction years in Apple’s history. It is Apple’s expertise in Software and UX that make their products so successful. iOS 8 appears to be on the cusp of being one of Apple’s most important OS releases in years.