Although Apple is rarely out of the tech headlines, 2014 has so far been a relatively quiet year. Ok, it bought Beats in May for $3 billion and with it an embryonic music streaming service, a headphone brand and the services of Dr Dre. In April it cut the price of its MacBook Air notebooks and in March it rolled out CarPlay, essentially iPhone for the car. But from January to June, new products have been few and far between from the world’s biggest and most scrutinized technology company.
Therefore hopes were high that the World Wide Developers Conference, which kicked off on Monday in San Francisco, would see some new hardware revealed alongside software. In recent weeks experts and sources had predicted that everything from new entry-level iMacs to a smartwatch and a 12-inch iPad Pro would be getting a big reveal at the event.
And while the keynote presentation, helmed in turns by CEO Tim Cook and Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi, showcased a host of innovative and potentially game-changing new software features, everything from a smart home platform, a holistic health app and the announcement that iMessage is now essentially a direct competitor to Snapchat and WhatsApp thanks to the inclusion of self-destructing messages, group chats and the ability to share videos, neither personal assistant app Cue (which Apple reportedly acquired late in 2013) nor any new hardware were anywhere to be seen.
Instead, Apple chose to celebrate its success, 800 million iOS devices in use, 1.2 million apps in the App Store and 80 million people now using Macs, and to poke fun at the competition. For example, Tim Cook revealed that over the last 12 months the company had gained 130 million iPhone users who had come over from Android. “They had bought an Android device by mistake and wanted a better experience… and a better life,” he said before highlighting that 89 percent of iOS devices in use are running iOS7 (the latest version of the operating system) compared with 9 percent of Android devices that are currently running KitKat, the latest version of Google’s open source smartphone and tablet OS.
However, with just six months remaining of the year, Apple has a lot of invitations to send out and a lot of events to organize if it is to deliver on Cue’s promise and launch a host of exciting new products in time for Christmas.