Apple Unveils Enhanced Versions of iOS, Mac OS X But No New Hardware Products

Apple World Wide Developers Conference
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Tech giant shows off iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, the next generations of its operating systems, at WWDC

Apple launched iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, the next major upgrades to its mobile and desktop operating systems, respectively — but didn’t reveal any new hardware products at its Worldwide Developers Conference.

The iOS 8 release offers “great end-user features, but it also has great developer features,” CEO Tim Cook said at WWDC, which kicked off Monday in San Francisco. “It’s huge for developers, and massive for everyone else.”

Apple historically has not introduced new hardware at WWDC, but investors may have been expecting something special — such as a rumored “iWatch” wearable computing device — given that it was the first time the company was live-streaming the event’s opening keynote. Apple shares dipped as much as 1.7% Monday, closing at $628.65 per share, down 0.7% for the day.

New features in iOS 8 — to become generally available in the fall — include integration between Siri and Shazam’s auto-content recognition to ID a song you’re listening to; a new Messages app that can send audio and video messages with a single swipe; and interactive notifications, to let users take an action such as “liking” something on Facebook from an alert.

Enhanced keyboard features in iOS 8 include QuickType, which supports predictive text entry a la Android, and the ability to install systemwide third-party keyboards. The Touch ID feature for autologin via a user’s fingerprint (originally introduced with iOS 7) is now available to non-Apple apps in iOS 8.

In addition, iOS 8 is more tightly integrated with the new Mac OS X Yosemite. That lets users receive and place calls from Macs — which SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi used to call new Apple employee Dr. Dre. A “family sharing” function lets devices access content from up to six iTunes accounts that use same credit card, and iOS 8 also adds new photo-editing tools.

Another new product: iCloud Drive, which makes documents stored in Apple’s cloud storage service available directly from iOS devices, Macs or Windows PCs.

Developer features in iOS 8 include: HomeKit, to let apps control devices in the home like thermostats and lights; and HealthKit, which lets apps monitor activity like heart rate or blood pressure (if given permission). Apple also debuted the new Swift programming language, which is be more efficient than the company’s Objective-C language. All told, the iOS 8 software development kit includes more than 4,000 new application programming interfaces. The operating system upgrade also includes Metal, a new 3D-graphics technology designed to exploit the A7 chip to deliver what Apple claims are “console-class” games.

According to Cook, more than 130 million customers who bought an iOS-based device in last 12 months were buying their first Apple device, with many switching from Google’s Android. To date, Apple has shipped more than 800 million iOS devices, including more than 500 million iPhones.

Apple’s Mac OS X Yosemite, meanwhile, has a redesigned user interface with a common toolbar, translucent windows, new dock icons and a “dark mode”; an updated notifications center; and an enhanced search feature that spans desktop and Internet sources (including movie showtimes and iTunes content). Yosemite will be generally available in the fall of 2014 for free to Mac users, and available to developers starting Monday.

Among other features, the Safari web browser in Yosemite now streams HTML5 video for greater efficiency from sites like Netflix, according to Apple. That will let a MacBook Air notebook stream two more hours of Netflix HD video over Wi-Fi than with Netflix’s Safari plug-in.

Apple also is adding new capabilities for the iTunes App Store, with a new “explore” tab, the ability to browse through categories and subcategories, a list of top-trending searches and an option to sell multiple apps in bundles for a discounted price. A new testing service, called TestFlight, lets developers invite users to beta test their app before release for free.

The WWDC announcements come after Apple last week announced a $3 billion deal to acquire the Beats Electronics audio products business and Beats Music streaming service founded by Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre — the biggest ever for the world’s largest technology company. Beats is estimated to have generated more than $1 billion in revenue last year, and the Beat Music service, launched this past January, has 250,000 paying subs.

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