The Most Important Things Apple Showed us During the WWDC14 Keynote

| Editorial

There were a lot of exciting announcements during the WWDC 2014 Keynote. Some were breathtaking and some were just evolutionary cool. Here's my list of the things that lit me up the most from the most exciting (#1) to the less exciting (#9). Even so, those further down the list show great promise.

1. Swift Programming Language. Designing a new computer language is a significant endeavor. However, considering that there are 800 million iOS devices in the field and that 35 billion iOS apps have been downloaded, Apple is entitled to make this leap.

Apple SVP Craig Federighi introduces Swift, Apple's new programming language.
Credit: Apple

One of the primary focuses is to build a language that's designed to be secure from the ground up. In essence Apple is getting in the face of every other mobile competitor and leveraging off its already existing strengths in security. When combined with the "Metal," graphics interface, what appears to be an OpenGL|ES replacement, this is BIG. The repercussions will last for years.

2. iOS 8 Sandbox extensions. This is going to light up the known iOS universe and make the most irritating part of IOS go away. Under the supervision of iOS security, Apps will be able to share data and features, and that's going to ignite content creation. It was probably the one thing that was holding back IOS from its destination with greatness.

3. Air Drop from Mac to iOS device (or the other way around). What took so long?

4. Phone calls from a Mac. This may not be the biggest announcement for many, but it knocked my socks off. It just so darn cool and technical and delightful. And it just makes so darm much sense. You can make the call right from the OS X Contacts, so long as the iPhone is near by. It's so obvious, so delectable. So convenient.


5. iCloud Drive. Visible folders for the storage and sharing of information from OS X to iOS. What took so long? It's going to make using Macs and iPads a whole lot easier.

6. Yosemite Look and Feel. The partial flatening of OS X 10.10 looks great. From what I saw in the keynote, OS X is going to move from a glaring, bold, primary color UI to one of (possibly) pastels, translucency, flattening, more uniform typography. It's the design taste of Jony ive coming through, as it did in iOS 7, and I think I'm going to love it.

7. Mail. Large attachments sent directly to another Mac or links sent to a non Mac is a obvious idea. It doesn't solve the fundamental problems with the Apple Mail app, but it's a huge step in the right direction and in keeping with Apple's penchant for solving irritating problems. The same goes for the mark up of email attachments.

8. HomeKit was covered in a separate article. How big it goes depends on how completely the hardware partners embrace iOS and understand how iOS integration will propel their sales. With luck, this initiative from Apple will take home automation into the mainstream of our Apple life.

9. HealthKit. This was discussed very quickly. We don't yet have a clear picture of how this health data will be stored, secured, and transmitted. Nor how widely it will be embraced. Previously, we thought of the iWatch as a personal way of monitoring, but it's clear some of it has to be in concert with a physician. Because the details were vague and because no hardware was announced, it didn't light me up. But, eventually, HealthKit will be huge.

There were lots of other announcements, and you can see them in the Apple video, but these are the items that I got especially exited about right after the keynote.

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All true.

No mention of the hilarious name search segment for the update?
That was the best one among the several jokes made during the presentation.  It’s interesting how showing a good sense of humour can communicate confidence rather than the need to throw out what everyone expected, which was new hardware.

Apple: you’re doing it right.

As for the new stuff, I love Continuity (I’m not the only one!), and how they are really pushing the cloud services out front.


Once I saw the HealthKit slide with their partners, I thought that was the big one. And it’s just laying the groundwork for all sorts of medical device companies to get into wearables. Combine that with a new, more secure programming language to deal with health info privacy and holy shit! All the other mobile device makers can kiss ANY hospital device business goodbye.

I kinda hope in Yosemite that there will be more of a UI cue as to what windows are on top. A kind of more forced aerial perspective. That’s always bugged me since 10.0.


Another item about iCloud Drive that no-one has yet mentioned: apps can access the files but without the copy-and-sync issues that result from iOS’s sandbox approach. That’s a big help.


I could comment on all of these, but I’m going to just focus on one: voice calls through your Mac.  For months people have speculated about the smart watch being able to make calls without you having to pull your phone out of your pocket.  While that still may come to pass, for now Apple has taken an even more practical step in this area by allowing you to do the same only when you are sitting in front of your computer. 

While one can argue that you can communicate with others through your Mac just as you would with your phone thanks to technologies like FaceTime, FaceTime Audio and Messages, combined with the un-announcement of wi-fi calling Apple is preparing users for the day - when wi-fi is practically everywhere - when they can communicate with all their devices without a traditional phone plan.  And we can all rejoice when that day comes.


I’m not sure I understood the hotspot announcement - it seemed like this would do away with much of the need for cellular-ready tablets? Would this allow an iPod touch to do voice calling?

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