While Apple only officially announced its 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last week, we have been reporting all of the known information about what Apple plans to unveil at the event over the course of the past few months. Now that WWDC is official, we have compiled a roundup of everything we know about Apple’s next-generation iOS device and Mac operating systems below, and we’ve also included some new tidbits not found in our earlier reporting. You can find out what there is to know so far about iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 below:
iOS 8 – Codenamed Okemo:
iOS 8 is the next version of Apple’s software for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and it is the first major successor to the significant redesign that was iOS 7. For iOS 8, Apple is retaining the same Jony Ive-designed aesthetic found in iOS 7 and is focusing on additions involving applications, services, and performance. iOS 8 will represent Apple moving into the fitness and health tracking world and it will mark a major milestone in Apple’s efforts to bring its mapping solution up-to-par with competitors from Google and Microsoft.
The Activity section can track steps taken, calories burned, and miles walked. The Weight tab can track a person’s weight, BMI, and fat %. The current health accessory marketplace includes wireless weight scales, so it is likely that Healthbook will receive its data from those types of products. Both of those aforementioned tabs will have an interface with graphs and charts so that users could track their fitness progress over daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly views. Our earlier reporting on Healthbook goes into further detail about why the application is critical and how it could interact with future Apple wearable devices.
Another important element of Healthbook is the Emergency Card function. The Emergency Card is a single place for users to store information about themselves. The Emergency Card can keep a person’s name, photograph, birthdate, blood type, organ donor status, emergency contact information, weight, and a list of medication prescriptions. This Emergency Card function could save lives and provide emergency technicians, nurses, hospitals, and doctors with vital information about patients in emergency situations.
For iOS 8, Apple is planning to overhaul its previously bug-riddled in-house mapping software. The updated application will retain the same user-interface introduced last year with iOS 7, but it will be updated with improved mapping data, better clarity, and important new features.
The updated app is said to include tweaked cartography, clearer labeling, and improved notating of bus stops, train stations, and airports. That is all in addition to upgraded data that is more reliable and more plentiful.
The improved data also makes way for a major new feature: public transit directions. Apple won’t be the first to this feature (Google has had it for several years), but the addition is a change in direction from when former iOS chief Scott Forstall said in 2012 that Apple would leave transit to third-party developers.
Thanks to several acquisitions of transit specialist companies, iOS 8’s Maps app will have transit functionality deeply embedded for several cities around the world. Transit will allow people to navigate using busses, trains, and subways, and it will also include improved navigating to nearby airports.
The transit feature will be integrated as both a new view (in addition to Standard, Hybrid, and Satellite), and it will also be a new option alongside walking and driving for directions. While transit will be integrated, Apple will still be able to point users to third-party transit apps like it has done since iOS 6’s launch. Transit directions will work for both future trip planning and for immediate navigation.
- iTunes Radio:
For iOS 8, Apple is considering breaking out the Music app’s iTunes Radio functionality into its own, standalone application. As a tab in the already-existing Music app, iTunes Radio has not received a promoted presence on iOS, and this likely has deterred growth for the service in terms of advertising revenue and usage.
As a standalone application, users will be able to more quickly access iTunes Radio. Psychologically for users, iTunes Radio will be its own app competing with the likes of the Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio apps found on the App Store. The benefit for Apple, however, is that iTunes Radio will be pre-installed. The interface for the standalone iTunes Radio application is said to be nearly identical to the one found inside of the iOS Music app and its Home screen icon is a terrestrial radio graphic atop a red background.
The functionality of iTunes Radio will also be akin to its iOS 7 Music app counterpart. Users will be able to browse their history, purchase streamed tracks, locate Featured Stations, create stations based on songs, artists, and albums, and manage stations. Apple previously considered releasing iTunes Radio as a standalone application in iOS 6, but due to problems with striking record label deals, the company ultimately pushed the launch back to iOS 7.
Apple has previously removed functionality from the standard iOS Music (formally called iPod) app and separated functionality into standalone apps. For example, Apple moved video playback for movies, TV shows, and music videos from the iPod app into a Videos app with iOS 5. With iOS 6, Apple began promoting Podcasts as its own App Store app and removed playback from the Music app. In early 2012, Apple re-located playback of iTunes University content to its own app.
The considerations also make sense in light of Apple recently adding more functionality to iTunes Radio, such as news from NPR.
- Voice over LTE:
Another significant addition being considered for iOS 8 and the next-generation iPhone is voice-over-LTE support (VoLTE), according to carrier sources. Currently, when an LTE-capable iPhone needs to make a phone call, the actual call is placed over last generation networks such as 3G. With VoLTE, calls will be transmitted over the same type of network that LTE data is processed through, and this can allow for benefits such as improved call quality.
Of course, carrier support is needed for this functionality, and some countries around the world have carriers that have already rolled out support for VoLTE. For those in the United States, T-Mobile’s network (thanks to its agreement with Metro PCS) supports VoLTE while Verizon Wireless and AT&T are actively testing the functionality for a rollout later this year. Of course, it’s plausible that iOS 8 support for VoLTE will be pushed back if enough carriers are unable to meet the rollout timeframe.
Apple is said to be considering adding the ability for Messages threads in iOS 8 to automatically be deleted. The options for auto-deleting of threads on a user’s local device are said to be removal after a month or after a year. The functionality is being integrated in order for the iOS Device storage space to not be clogged up by old Messages threads, which is a common problem among iOS Device users with old backups or dated hardware. The auto-deletion will be optional, so users who never want their threads disappearing have nothing to worry about.
Notification Center, the translucent drop-down menu for managing alerts may be simplified. In iOS 7, Notification Center includes a “Today” view, “All” Notifications view, and a “Missed” Notifications view. In iOS 8, Apple is considering reducing the panel to solely include the “Today” and “Notifications” views. The new “Notifications” view would combine all notifications with missed notifications, making the overall experience simpler. After acquiring the team behind the app Cue last year, Apple has likely been working on adding additional pertinent information to Notification Center, but it is uncertain if those enhancements will be ready this year for iOS 8.
- TextEdit and Preview:
Apple is developing versions of the Mac operating system’s Preview and TextEdit applications that are optimized for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The applications are said to not be designed to actually edit PDFs, images, or text documents.
Instead, the apps are built to serve as tools to view Preview and TextEdit files stored in iCloud by OS X. Apple added iCloud synchronization for Preview and TextEdit with OS X Mountain Lion, but has not yet released iOS counterparts to actually view the synchronized content.
The applications are said to still be early in development, but they are being considered for release later in the year. It is currently uncertain, but still possible, if the new pieces of software will be ready to ship with the upcoming iOS 8.
Instead of using fully functional Preview and TextEdit applications on iOS, users will be encouraged to use the PDF management and editing functionality in the free iBooks applicationfrom the App Store and manage other documents via the iWork suite’s word processing application Pages. The apps will also bring improved feature parity between the two Apple operating systems.
- Game Center:
Sources say that Apple is considering removing the Game Center application from iOS and OS X. Instead of having the (little-used) Game Center app, the functionality will solely be found inside in games that have integrated the social gaming service. Just last year, Apple completely redesigned the Game Center app for iOS 7 to remove the green felt and casino theme from the Scott Forstall era. Recently leaked screenshots did, however, show the Game Center icon.
- Voice Memos:
As part of the iOS 7 design revamp, the iPhone’s Voice Memos application was completely redesigned. Gone was the fake microphone graphic and added was an interactive waveform. Unfortunately, some users have complained that the redesigned Voice Memos app is difficult to navigate and that editing controls are unclear. With iOS 8, Apple will rectify this problem by improving button placement within the app.
While iOS 7.1 certainly sped up animations and other system functionality, Apple is testing versions of iOS 8 that go even further to improve speed across the operating system. Sources say that Apple is focusing on improving how long it takes photos to be taken with the next-generation iPhone’s hardware components in mind.
While iOS 7’s version of CarPlay exclusively works over the Lightning cable, Apple is testing versions of iOS 8 that can conduct CarPlay (in certain vehicles) over WiFi. The lines up with Volvo saying that its CarPlay implementation will work wirelessly in the future. Of course, Apple has been testing WiFi CarPlay for sometime now with iOS 7, so perhaps the functionality will be pushed back once again. iOS 7.1 first unlocked CarPlay capabilities last month.
- Inter-app communication: Apple is said to be working on and testing functionality that would allow apps from the App Store to better communicate. This is known as an “XPC” service in the developer world. An API is being developed for apps to be able to share data. For example, a future photo editing application could have the ability to push the edited content for upload via the Instagram or Facebook apps. The debut of the API has been in development for the past couple of years, and it had been removed from the launch version of iOS 7 last year for unspecified reasons. With that in mind, it is plausible that Apple could, again, choose to hold back the functionality.
OS X 10.10 – Codenamed Syrah:
OS X 10.10 will be the successor to the current OS X, 10.9 Mavericks. Mavericks focused on power-user features and under-the-hood enhancements to improve hardware performance, battery life, and graphics processing. 10.10, however, will focus on aesthetics. According to sources, Apple Senior VP of Design Jony Ive is leading a “significant” design overhaul for OS X, and the new design will be the operating system’s cornerstone new feature (none of the mockups online, like the one above, are a good indicator of what to expect).
The new design will not be as stark as iOS 7, but it will include many of the flat elements and white textures instead of re-creations of life-like elements. The end-to-end redesign is said to be a top priority at Apple right now, with the specific details about the changes being sworn to extreme secrecy. Apple has been testing new features such as Siri and support for iOS AirDrop compatibility, but it’s unconfirmed if those enhancements will be ready for 10.10. We’ll have more on what to expect from OS X 10.10 soon, so stay tuned.
To go with the new operating systems, Apple is likely preparing a few new notable pieces of hardware. On the Mac side, Apple seems to be readying a revamped version of the MacBook Air with a ~12-inch Retina display and thinner/lighter chassis. Apple has announced major new Mac initiatives at WWDC the past couple of years, so perhaps Apple has this new MacBook Air up its sleeves for the 2014 conference. Apple is also working on some lower-cost iMacs and standard MacBook Air/Pro updates, but it’s unclear when those are set to debut.
On the iOS side, indications of new hardware are less clear. Apple is currently on an annual life-cycle for updating iOS Devices, so it is fair to assume that the unveilings of the next set of iPhones and iPads will not occur until the fall. With iOS 8’s headline feature being health and fitness tracking software, speculation has arisen that Apple could debut its own fitness/health tracking hardware (iWatch) alongside iOS 8. It’s unclear if Apple is planning to do so, but given the hiring over the past couple of years, anything is possible.
WWDC 2014 will be held between June 2nd and June 6th at the Moscone West center in San Francisco, California. The week long conference will include labs and special sessions for developers, but it will likely be kicked off on Monday, June 2nd with a keynote address to officially introduce the aforementioned details about iOS 8, OS X 10.10, and potentially new hardware. As the conference’s start approaches, new information will certainly come to light, and you can find the latest news about Apple’s plans at 9to5Mac. Also stay tuned for live coverage of WWDC and, like we compiled in 2012 and 2013, an updated roundup in the few days before the conference begins.