If you've managed to tear an eye away from the eventful world of politics this week, you'll have known it was WWDC, and Apple's annual developer conference brought a sizable bundle of goodies. First up, we got our first look at what's coming to the Apple Watch in watchOS 4, which is largely made up of smaller updates to round out the experience, though the addition of native core Bluetooth got features editor Sophie excited about all the possibilities for smart straps.
I then dived into a developer beta of the OS for a closer look - you can read my initial thoughts on the update here. It's not yet complete - and naturally a little buggy - but there are all sorts of nifty things Apple didn't mention during its press conference, like VO2 Max and a new way to navigate through apps.
The other biggie was HomePod, Apple's long-expected smart speaker. And while it is indeed smart, Apple's really hammering the sound quality angle to stand apart from Echo and Google Home. Beyond the music, Siri will function as your smart assistant, although we've not yet been able to see how good that experience is. I like Siri, but I feel Apple has let the ball drop by letting Google Assistant and Alexa outpace it, so I wonder how Apple's speaker will compare when it's actually in my home. Sadly we won't know until much later in the year, as HomePod won't ship until December.
Finally, there was ARKit, which I'd argue was the most exciting thing Apple announced at WWDC. This isn't going to be a product or even an app for you to download; it's a toolkit for developers to make amazing augmented reality experiences for iOS devices. Apple's setting up for an AR/MR future, not with a device, but an entire platform. Between this and Apple's wearable initiative, which right now consists of Watch and AirPods, Apple has started building for a very different future.
Come back in ten years and rub my stupid wrong face in it, but I firmly believe Apple is creating a framework for an AR-wearable transition, and smartglasses will likely be the pi√®ce de r√©sistance. Whether or not you believe the rumors that Apple is struggling with its AR glasses project, I don't think anyone expects Tim Cook to give smartglasses the "one more thing" (or is that "one last thing" after WWDC?) treatment in the next three, or even five years. But I don't think it will be much longer than that. And then yeah, maybe the smartphone's days are up.
We like to Moov it Moov it
So that was Apple. Elsewhere, executive editor James Stables was breaking news that Fitbit and Intel are circling a buyout of Moov. We're big fans of the Moov Now and the Moov coaching platform at Wareable, so we're not surprised to see interest from big players.
Meanwhile Samsung has been thinking up new ways to monitor our health with its stick-on S-Patch 3. Designed to be stuck on the body, the patch tracks heart rate at ECG standard among things like body fat data and skin temperature. Color us intrigued.
Finally, I leave you with a question: Would you wear this?
This is H√∂vding's wearable airbag, a scarf-like apparatus that inflates as soon as it detects you're in an accident. It's divided the team, and I have to say I have some concerns, but if it really does work as well as H√∂vding promises then I'm onboard. And if it doesn't? Could make for a nice emergency rain hood.
Right, I'm off to E3. You can read my roundup of all the things VR and AR I'm hoping to see at the show. If I get more than half of them wrong you can come back and gloat about that too.
More good stuff from the week
- The alternative smart home hubs you need to knowIt's not a smart speaker or nothing, kids
- How voice is going to save the smart homeOnce you go smart there's no going back
- #Trending: Health wearables get seriousApple and Samsung are setting the agenda for next-gen health wearables
- Turning hybrids upside downSmart straps, dumb faces
- Avery Dennison's bold plan for connected clothingDesigner collaborations a-go-go to get this project off the ground