Light Reading

Apple Launches Biggest Changes Since iPhone

Mitch Wagner
6/2/2014
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Apple announced strategic changes for the company on Monday that could prove to be the biggest deal since Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in 2007.

CEO Tim Cook and other senior executives delivered the annual keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference Monday. Apple is diving into the Internet of things, making another attempt to jump-start its cloud strategy, and is tightening integration between Macs, iPads, and iPhones.

The keynote, coming on the heels of Apple's $3 billion Beats acquisition, lacked the kind of flashy hardware announcement that signals a strategic milestone. We didn't see the anticipated smartwatch, or even new iPhones. But the new direction is nonetheless a big deal, for carriers and consumers, as well as Apple partners and competitors. (See Apple Confirms Beats Buy for $3B.)

HomeKit and HealthKit are the biggest of the big deals. They're Apple's foray into the Internet of Things, specifically home automation and smart health and fitness devices.

Apple isn't selling home automation and health devices -- at least not yet. But it's certifying other people's devices to work with Apple technology. That means your house becomes a big iPhone peripheral, like a Bluetooth headset or car kit. Same for your fitness wristband. Tell Siri you're going to bed and it automatically dims the house lights, lock the doors, close the garage doors, and sets the thermostat, Apple says.

Apple wants to be the hub for your smart home and medical and fitness devices, the way it's already the hub for home entertainment.

What this means for carriers: The Internet of Things will place new requirements on carriers for latency, reliability, and bandwidth. It's a new category of applications, the way the Internet was in the 90s and video in this decade.

The second major announcement is its CloudKit and rebooted iCloud.

Apple has been to cloud what Sylvester Stallone is to movies. Stallone made one of the greatest movies of all time (Rocky), and a whole lot of movies that range from okay to awful (Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot).

Similarly, Apple has failed most of the time when it tried to launch cloud services. MobileMe was unreliable, and iCloud only works within the Apple universe.

But oh! iTunes! It completely destroyed and rebuilt the music business.

Now, Apple is taking another run at the cloud, revising iCloud as a Dropbox competitor that can store documents and files.

Also unveiled this week: CloudKit, development tools and services to allow third-party developers to build apps using iCloud.

As with HomeKit, the new cloud apps, if successful, would increase demand for carrier services. They also potentially compete with carriers, to the extent that those carriers are getting into the cloud business themselves. However, the Apple services are infrastructure and platform services, while carriers focus more on integrating the entire enterprise's apps online. (See AT&T's Cloud Future Takes Shape, A Peek Inside CenturyLink's Cloud Expansion, and Verizon Brings Thunder to the Cloud.)

Next page: Beefing up iOS

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mhhf1ve
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mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/4/2014 | 5:36:29 PM
iCloud still not impressive..?
Apple mimicking Dropbox and expanding to support PCs.. isn't exactly an "insanely great" development. Apple's cloud services are proprietary and walled off from other services, and that's exactly the opposite of what cloud services should do. 

Google and Amazon definitely have a huge headstart in the cloud over Apple... Not sure if the massive number of iOS consumers will win over developers to use Apple?
mhhf1ve
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mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/4/2014 | 5:36:16 PM
Re: Thing 1
My chromecast seems to be mostly a Youtube channel for my TV... But I think it just started to support Simple.TV... so maybe I'll use it more for that once I figure out how to get better OTA TV reception.
RitchBlasi
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RitchBlasi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/4/2014 | 12:03:28 PM
Healthcare IoT
With so many possibilities for mobile healthcare, acccording to everyone who is over-hyping it, maybe Apple's entry into the space will actually get things rolling.  IoT is currently about M2M, and fitness and wellness apps and devices seem to be driving much of that.  While F&W is nice, actually supporting true healthcare - whever physicians can trust the data they receive on patients to be accurate - is the right area.  The pundits of mHealth have been espousing huge revv-gen opps over the next few years.  This might have caught the eye of the Apple guys.
jabailo
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jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/3/2014 | 5:56:56 PM
Thing 1
My current "thing" is a Chromecast.

Prior to it, I had a full gaming/media center PC running Windows hooked up to my TV set.   Because it had a large CPU and graphics card, it could heat my whole apartment in winter.   I had always wanted to streamline it, but thought I wanted something more than a set top box.   What I found with Chromecast is that I really wanted something less for just running Netflix!

With Chromecast, I can run it with my Windows PC, my Chromebook, my Android tablet and my Android phone.   That is how I want it -- the ability of the remote being software that is compatible with almost anything.


The downside is that I am beholden to Google for those apps that I can run.  Luckily they have been consistently adding Chromecast support to nearly everything I want...Netflix, Rhapsody, Pandora.     They do not have native support for Amazon Prime, and I was disappointed that I could stream the NBA finals for free using TNT-Overtime but there was no Cast button.

In theory, I can stream everything that I can view on my Windows PC using Tabcasting, where the data goes to my PC first, and then is back channelled over my LAN to Chromecast.  The reality is -- it's terrible, slow and jerky video.   Maybe I need better wifi...

End result is -- Things 1, 2, 3, ... should be controllable in a general way by many devices and it should be connectable to many sources.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
6/3/2014 | 4:18:59 PM
Re: It's an "inter" net
Also, for the Internet of Things to work, devices from multiple vendors need to be able to communicate with and manage each other. Otherwise you have the "basket of remotes problem" magnified astronomically. 
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
6/3/2014 | 4:17:17 PM
Re: iCloud
Strange to see no whiz-bang hardware? Maybe so. OTOH, this is a developer conference, so it's reasonable to expect the focus on software, particularly developer tools. 
kq4ym
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kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/3/2014 | 1:51:37 PM
Re: iCloud
It did seem strange to not see some new whiz bang hardware this time. But cloud ideas are the hot items now, so naturally Apple will have to address it and see how it can earn some extra buck with it in some new manner. But, who knows, the "lull" might just be before the storm when Apple comes out again with a really news worthy product or service.
jabailo
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jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/3/2014 | 1:58:04 AM
It's an "inter" net
The issue with the Internet of Things for a proprietary vendor is that it's still an "internet".

So each thing becomes something you message with -- updates from your fridge sent to the ToDo list...and so on.

For manufacturers that used to have control over both the OS and the CPU, that's a hard row to hoe.

Device manufacturers are going to want to excel in the area of making Things that communicate, but also use the best, or the cheapest chips and software.   Much like the case of smartphones and Android, where an entire computing market was snatched from the previous leader, Microsoft.

Now we're dealing with hardware that doesn't necessarily have its own UI...it's just spewing bits over tcp/ip and expecting control statements.

How or why would any OS manufacturer be able control that seems a difficult question to ask.
DOShea
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DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
6/2/2014 | 9:37:28 PM
iCloud
New capabilities and pricing changes, too -- seems like Apple is finally taking cloud seriously, rather than charging a premium for limited options.

 
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