Is Samsung Trying to Steal Apple’s WWDC Thunder?

Source: iWatch Concept by Todd Hamilton

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) archrival Samsung (SSNLF.PK) recently announced its own San Francisco-based media event that will take place only a few days before the iPhone maker’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in the same city, reports Engadget. Apple traditionally holds its developers’ conference at the beginning of June at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. However, the media event location isn’t the only aspect of Samsung’s event that appears to be mimicking Apple. According to the invitation, obtained by Engadget, Samsung’s meeting will focus on a “new conversation around health.”

Although the Cupertino, California-based Apple has yet to confirm its existence, it is widely rumored that the company will be unveiling a fitness-tracking and health-monitoring app known as “Healthbook” as part of iOS 8. According to insider sources cited by 9to5Mac, Apple’s Healthbook app will manage data in nearly a dozen different categories related to health, exercise, and diet. Categories are speculated to be Bloodwork, Heart Rate, Hydration, Blood Pressure, Activity, Nutrition, Blood Sugar, Sleep, Respiratory Rate, Oxygen Saturation, and Weight.

Samsung has already released its own preinstalled health-monitoring apps on the Galaxy S5, as well as a separate wrist-worn fitness-tracking device called the Gear Fit. The Galaxy S5 also includes a built-in heart rate monitor. However, the timing and location of Samsung’s upcoming health-focused event gives the impression that the Korea-based company is trying to steal some of Apple’s WWDC thunder. The rumor about a new health-monitoring app from Apple only adds to this impression.

Like Samsung’s S Health app, Apple’s rumored Healthbook app will likely work in tandem with a wearable tech device that has some type of medical or fitness-tracking sensors, since many of the health data categories managed by the app could only be derived from a piece of hardware that is in contact with the user.

iWatch concept -- Source: Anders Kjellberg / dogday-design.se

iWatch concept — Source: Anders Kjellberg / dogday-design.se

According to 9to5Mac’s sources, Apple’s peripheral fitness-tracking device could be the long-rumored iWatch, or it could be a completely unheard-of device. Apple has hired dozens of medical sensor experts over the past several months, presumably for an as-yet-unconfirmed wearable tech project.

Last week, Nike (NYSE:NKE) CEO Mark Parker made comments in an interview with CNBC that suggested that the sports accessories company may be partnering with Apple to create a wearable tech product. When asked directly if the two companies were developing a collaborative device, Parker responded: “I can’t really say that. There’s been a lot of speculation, which I understand. I will just say that the relationship between Nike and Apple will continue. And I am personally, as we all are at Nike, very excited about what’s to come.”

Finally, although Apple has not confirmed or even acknowledged the existence of a Healthbook app or iWatch, a recent rumor from the company’s overseas supply chain suggested that the release of the device is drawing nearer. According to the China Times, a small-scale production run of the iWatch has already been initiated.

We wrote earlier on Apple’s own plans at this year’s WWDC, with the Mac OS X being the rumored star of the show. Here’s a recap of what the iPhone maker may be planning for the June event:

Apple’s upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference will focus on a new version of the Mac OS X operating system instead iOS, according to “sources with knowledge of the plans” cited by 9to5Mac. Over the past several years, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference — or WWDC — has focused on new versions of the iPhone maker’s iOS mobile operating system.

However, this year Apple will break with tradition and make OS X 10.10 the linchpin of its annual developers’ conference. According to 9to5Mac’s insider sources, the switch is due to an “end-to-end redesign” of the current OS X. The design changes implemented in the new version of OS X will reportedly rival the level of changes made to the iOS 7 mobile operating system last year. In 2013, Apple unveiled a radically redesigned iOS that eliminated many of the skeuomorphic design elements that were found in all of the previous versions of the mobile operating system. The iOS 7 redesign effort was led by Jony Ive, Apple’s renowned design chief.

While it is not known who is leading the OS X redesign effort, 9to5Mac’s sources noted that some of the iOS user interface resources have been diverted to the OS X project that is “steaming forward” in order to be ready in time for WWDC 2014. As previously announced by Apple, this year’s WWDC will be held on June 2 through June 6 at San Francisco’s Moscone West.

According to 9to5Mac’s insider sources, the internal development codename for OS X 10.10 is “Syrah,” the same name of a grape variety used for making wine in California’s Napa Valley. However, it is not clear if “Syrah” will be used as the name for the finished product.

Apple has historically named its Mac operating systems after big cats, although it switched gears with last year’s release of OS X 10.9 Mavericks by naming it after a legendary surfing spot in California. Apple trademark filings recently uncovered by 9to5Mac suggested that Apple will continue the new tradition of naming OS X after geographic locations in California. Apple has already trademarked operating systems named after “Yosemite, Redwood, Mammoth, California, Big Sur, and Pacific,” according to 9to5Mac.

Although Apple’s new version of Mac OS X will likely feature a redesigned appearance that brings it in-line with the minimalist appearance of iOS 7, the desktop operating system will still retain many of the features that distinguish it from the mobile operating system. OS X 10.10 will keep unique features like the Finder, Mission Control, and multi-windows multitasking, according to 9to5Mac’s sources. While developers will have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with OS X 10.10 at the upcoming WWDC in June, most Apple users likely won’t get their hands on the new operating system version until the fall of 2014.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet:

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS