updated 01:33 am EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Apple is set to make personal computing more personal than ever
As all eyes shift to Apple's annual World Wide Developer Conference for 2014, it is a good opportunity to take stock of where Apple is and where it is headed. In the few short years following the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010, Apple has helped to radically reshape personal computing by making it more personal than ever before. However, in the post-PC paradigm, personal computers which were once at the center of our digital lives have now been supplanted by mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. It is around these devices that our digital lives now primarily revolve, and powered by the cloud, many of us no longer need to rely on personal computers any more.
It was not that long ago that Steve Jobs and Apple placed the iMac at the center of our digital lives. How things have changed in little more than a decade. In Apple's post-PC paradigm, ordinary people are now carrying tremendous amounts of personal computing power in the palm of their hands and in their pockets and handbags. We no longer need personal computers to manage our photos or our music collections, while we can edit documents and are empowered to undertake all types of creativity on the go. As Apple's current marketing campaign for the iPhone proposes, "You are more powerful than you think." As a society, we have become personally attached to our smartphones and tablets, often identifying ourselves with our choice of brand and the user experience on offer. Smartphones and tablets couldn't be more at the center of our lives, or more personal than they already are - or could they?
If the rumor mill is correct, a tent pole feature of iOS 8 will be a new health-centered app called Healthbook . Like the M7 motion-coprocessor in the iPhone 5s, iPad Air and Retina iPad mini, it is quite possible that Apple will open the API to third-party developers and hardware makers to tap into the burgeoning wearable health tracking devices boom that is currently revolutionizing the way we stay fit and healthy. It also seems likely, that this will form the basis of Apple's long-rumored push into the wearable devices market itself, with the expected arrival of an Apple iWatch later this year. The iWatch is widely expected to have multiple sensors that are capable of tracking a wide range of health indicators. There are few things we value more than our health, and putting health at the center of the capabilities of the iPhone makes it even more personal than it already is.
The potential for such a health tracking and monitoring system is huge. For example, the technology to track blood sugars in wearables already exists, making real-time tracking, collection and monitoring of this data possible. As someone who lives with Type II diabetes, I know that I could benefit tremendously from this, as could my health practitioner who will have a wealth of data on my overall activity as well. Coupled with the power of iCloud, this data could even be pushed to my doctor in the background and alert him or her if there was something that needed attention. This could lead to much better management of my condition, and more personally tailored treatment than ever before. If I depended on my iPhone before this, my very well-being could depend on it moving into the near future. There is nothing more personal than that.
The rumor mill for WWDC also suggests that Apple is about to unveil a new home-based MFI platform. While only expected to be a certification program, its arrival is yet another example of Apple's post-PC paradigm where iOS-powered devices take a central role. It is quite likely that (let's call it 'HomePlay') will leverage Apple's AirPlay technology to allow users to control various smart devices around the house, ranging from lighting to home appliances and other devices including thermostats, air conditioning and home security systems. It might even all you to control, dare I say it, the mythical Apple TV along with other certified home entertainment devices. Again, powered by iCloud, your iPhone or iPad will be at the center of HomePlay, allowing you to remotely monitor and control your home. Like everything that Apple has ever done in the technology space, it will make it a very user-friendly way of improving the quality of your life through technology.
There has been a lot of public pressure on Apple to deliver ground breaking new hardware. The reality is that it is only just getting started with its post-PC plans and its plans for developing the iOS ecosystem are really only now beginning to take shape. Not only do these plans no longer revolve solely around iTunes, they will help to make the iOS platform 'stickier' than ever. By putting iPhone and iPad at the center of people's lives from music, to photos, to productivity and creativity, and now to health, the home (and our cars with CarPlay), it will not only keep people buying iPhones and iPads long into the future, it will also help to drive adoption moving forward. If Apple is also able to roll in some new devices in new categories moving forward, it will be icing on the cake. Apple's post-PC future is looking great, and it will succeed by making personal computing truly personal.
By Sanjiv Sathiah