Apple made two significant announcements related to the iOS keyboard today. One is predictive capability, called QuickType. Depending on context, iOS is now smart enough to predict words as you type.
Siri will have a couple great new features in iOS 8. One is hands-free operation, such that you can simply say "Hey Siri" and Siri will respond. This, of course, will be especially useful if you're in your car.
Apple announced their new HealthKit platform and Health app. The main idea is that HealthKit is a single comprehensive repository for all your health and fitness information. The announced platform goes far beyond the rumors.
Big changes to Messages in iOS 8. You can now reply to SMS messages within the lock screen or within an app.
Apple's vision is stunning. A new feature being demoed right now is Continuity. You can make a call on your phone and then as you sit at your Mac, you can continue the phone via your Mac.
Apple's stock continues to jump up, and there's a tremendous amount of enthusiasm as everyone looks ahead to Apple's keynote on Monday at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Stock analysts and fanboys have been wondering if Apple still has its mojo in the post-Steve-Jobs era, and CEO Tim Cook has continued to promise that new product categories are coming. Everyone seems to be anticipating we will indeed get something new on Monday—if not hardware, then almost certainly a new platform or two. Let's take a look at what we know is coming, what seems likely, and what's rumored.
As my fellow blogger Todd Bernhard discussed in this post, there was a report out Monday from The Financial Times saying that Apple will be announcing a new Smart Home platform during next Monday's keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Apple has been working on an integrated home system for at least several years, with a number of patent applications indicating what they have in mind. In this post from January of 2012, for example, I pointed to a patent application that described a single device that would automatically detect appliances available for it to control. This would include TV, video disk player, stereo, computer, and home device controls, such as security, lighting, thermostat, and a wide range of other devices that are now Internet connected, such as the intelligent thermostat from Nest and smart light bulbs from Hue.
Verizon's LTE network was already pretty speedy, and now the company has rolled out XLTE in 250 cities in 44 states, which delivers faster peak data speeds and a minimum of double the bandwidth. Wow, this is what I like to hear.
On Wednesday Apple posted the schedule for the Worldwide Developers Conference, and it shows, as expected, that the keynote address will be on the first day, June 2, at 10 a.m. Pacific. Apple is expected to announce iOS 8 and give a demo.
I like Siri, but Google Search (free) is definitely an alternative worth considering. Last week Google released version 4.0 which now lets you have a "smarter conversation with Google." For example, you can ask, "What's the weather like?" and Google will return information about the current weather. But then you can ask a follow-up question that depends on the earlier question for context. You can say, "How about this weekend?" and the app will understand that you're asking what the weather will be like this weekend. The ability of Google Search to use previous questions as context for understanding is an impressive step in adding intelligence to these handy voice-controlled assistants. A review on ZDNet says that the capabilities of Google Search "embarrass Siri," which the reviewer now finds to be "woefully inadequate."