Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) annual Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off at San Francisco’s Moscone West on Monday, June 2, and fans of Apple tech are eager to see what new software, services, or even products the Cupertino-based company might unveil this year. Last year’s event was dominated by the introduction of the Jony Ive-designed iOS 7 that introduced a flatter, minimalist appearance to Apple’s mobile operating system. As usual, the introduction of new software iterations is expected to remain the primary focus of this year’s event.
This was confirmed by the iOS 8 and OS X banners recently spotted at the Moscone Center by The Verge. The image of the El Capitan rock formation at Yosemite National Park on the new OS X banner suggests that Apple will continue its recent tradition of naming its desktop operating system after geographic locations in California. According to sources cited by 9to5Mac, the upcoming version of OS X will be redesigned to make its appearance more similar to the minimalist design introduced with iOS 7.
However, while the debut of iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 is hardly surprising, the features found within these new software iterations may prove more exciting. Last week, a report from the Financial Times suggested that Apple was preparing a new automated home software platform that would connect products to create an “Internet of things.” Besides the Financial Times’ unnamed insider sources, there are also several prominent analysts that believe Apple might unveil a smart home software feature in the new iOS 8. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster recently boosted his price target on Apple shares to $732 from $640 based partly on the potential for a new automated home software platform, while Goldman Sachs boosted its price target to $720 from $635 for similar reasons. There is also at least one patent filed by Apple that outlines a smart home system, although it should be pointed out that the company doesn’t always convert its patented inventions into actual products or services.
Another interesting feature that might be found in the new iOS 8 would be a capability to connect to a wearable tech peripheral, such as the long-rumored iWatch. While insider sources cited by Re/Code claimed that the iWatch will not be unveiled at the WWDC, there is still the possibility that iOS 8 will include a software framework for an as-yet-unreleased wearable tech device. There is even the possibility that a full-blown app intended for the iWatch or similar wrist-worn tech device could be unveiled. Insider sources cited by 9to5Mac have claimed that Apple is developing a fitness-tracking and health-monitoring app for iOS called Healthbook that may be intended to work in tandem with a wearable tech product.
Although the WWDC has typically focused on software, there is always the outside chance that Apple will surprise fans with some new piece of hardware. However, the large-screen iPhone 6, the iWatch, or even the long-rumored 12.9-inch iPad Pro are not likely to be unveiled at WWDC 2014. On the other hand, a revamped Apple TV product would align nicely with the rumors of a connected home software platform. It should be noted that CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly highlighted the success of the Apple TV, including at the company’s last shareholders meeting where he noted, “It’s a little more difficult to call it a hobby these days,” according to Reuters.
During the company’s last quarterly earnings call, Cook observed that the company has now sold 20 million Apple TV units. He also noted that Apple made over $1 billion in revenue last year from sales of Apple TV hardware and content combined. “I’m feeling quite good about that business and where it can go,” said Cook according to a transcript provided by Seeking Alpha. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was in talks with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) over the possibility of creating a streaming-television service that would bypass congestion caused by public Internet traffic. Although Re/Code’s insider sources reported that there would be no new Apple TV hardware or software at this year’s WWDC, a new type of Apple TV product still appears to remain a wildcard possibility.
Apple’s WWDC event begins at 1 p.m. EDT on Monday June 2 and some portions will be live-streamed by Apple. Multiple media outlets will also be providing updates from the conference.
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