What Developers Want to Hear From Apple
As Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference gets under way in San Francisco, there has been much speculation about what the secretive folks in Cupertino will unveil onstage at the Moscone Center.
Typically, Apple uses the developers forum to unveil updates of its mobile and desktop operating systems, but it waits until the fall to announce the hardware that will take advantage of those new features. This year will likely be no exception.
The company appears poised to deliver updates to its iOS mobile operating system and OS X for the desktop. Online site 9to5Mac published details about Healthbook, which would represent Apple’s first entry into health-and-fitness tracking. As first reported by the Financial Times, Apple is poised to more deeply engage with makers of home automation with a feature that turns the iPhone into a remote control.
While all eyes and ears will be focused on the keynote presentation, which will be livestreamed at 10 am PT, we sought out members of the developer community to ask what they hope to hear from Apple this week.
Andrew Levy, the co-founder and chief executive of Crittercism, a company whose technology monitors the performance of mobile applications, said he sees signs of a new openness at Apple, a company that traditionally could teach the Kremlin a thing or two about maintaining state secrets.
“Apple has done a lot more to embrace the community, to bring in potential partners,” Levy said. “It’s not so much the ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ company they used to be.”
Levy is hoping that Apple, in this new new spirit of openness, will talk about whether it intends to enter the market for wearable computing. In March, competitor Google laid out its strategy for extending its Android platform to such devices.
The topic is also on the mind of Appurify’s co-founder and chief executive Jay Srinivasan.
The Apple mobile iOS platform has always appealed to developers because it has historically been the most lucrative, Srinivasan said. But that could change, he said, as Android pushes into new product categories such as wearable technology and smart cameras — without so much as a peep from Apple about its plans. (At last week’s inaugural Code Conference, Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue hinted at what he called “the best product pipeline that I’ve seen in my 25 years at Apple.”)
“There’s so much more innovation happening on the Android side now,” Srinivasan said. “If I’m a developer, I’m a mercenary. I want to build whatever’s going to sell … With all this momentum behind Android, that will make iOS weaker.”
Weakness, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.
Jeff Smith, chief executive and co-founder of Smule, a maker of karaoke apps, credits Apple for opening new markets with innovative devices like the iPhone. While some in the development community are eagerly anticipating a move into wearable technology, he’d rather see Apple expand its presence in the living room.
“If Apple could open up innovation in the living room — I don’t have any information that’s going to happen at this show — that would be one thing we would welcome,” Smith said.
Lars Hard, chief technology officer and founder of Expertmaker, a big-data analytics and artificial-intelligence company, is hoping that Apple will bring more support for applications that incorporate AI.
If, for example, a developer introduced an application that incorporated image recognition, Hard said, users would need to take a picture of someone (or something) and pass it across the mobile networks to another group of computers for identification — a slow, cumbersome process.
“If we have very strong support on the device itself to extract the important features in the image, like shape or color, on the server side, you don’t have to send that much information,” said Hard.
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