Notes from Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Day 1

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When it comes to Apple enthusiasts, perhaps no three days are more annually important than the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, an event that either validates or quickly lays to rest all the speculation from the rumor mill. From June 2 thru 6, this year's WWDC is in full swing in San Francisco. For Apple, the stated objective of the event is as characteristically ambitious as it gets: “For five days, one thousand Apple engineers and give thousands developers will gather together. And life will be different as a result.” Over the next few days we'll be detailing the conference based on a series of different articles and live blogs chronicling its progress. Here are some notable announcements that have been made so far on Day 1:

  • Lower prices for iCloud Drive. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple announced that it's dropping prices for its iCloud storage offering. Moving forward, users will be able to get 20GB for a 99 cent monthly fee, and 200GB for $3.99. In this way, Apple is in line with other virtual storage providers like Dropbox that are realizing that the market for virtual storage demands extremely low prices.
  • The unveiling of iOS 8. This is certainly a big development, but it's also one that was largely buzzed-about and therefore it didn't come as a surprise when CEO Tim Cook got up on stage to usher in iOS' newest iteration, according to CNNMoney. Within the new mobile operating system, one of the biggest developments is the addition of a health-based app called HealthKit, which is designed to provide users with both easier access to care providers as well as the individual means to personal betterment. Among other features, HealthKit will offer users with tracking mechanisms that will monitor things like blood pressure, sleep patterns and weight, in order to provide suggestions for healthier living. In addition, the app will offer the ability to link up with a user's primary care physician, making doctor-patient communications potentially a lot easier.
  • Hello, Yosemite. Just as Apple's mobile devices are getting a system reboot, so too will its Mac operating system. The upcoming system, dubbed Yosemite, will feature a design shift that makes its interface more closely resemble the one offered on iPhones and iPads. Yosemite is also pushing the traditional phone system one step closer to obsolescence, since one of its features will be the ability to call anyone, not just iPhone users. What the creation of Yosemite signals is a growing merging of iOS and OS X platforms. Somewhere down the line, the two may be indistinguishable.
  • Mounting sophistication of smart home functionality. It's no secret that Apple has taken a major interest in designing the ultimate smart home, and its efforts appear to be paying off. According to a Business Insider live blog of the event, the company is introducing a program called HomeKit which will directly link up your iPhone with various domestic devices such as locks, lights, refrigerators, and others. From there, you'll literally be able to run your house from your phone. HomeKit reportedly relies on Siri, which means that in addition to the smart home technology enabled by the application, you'll be able to verbally regulate that technology with commands like “I'm tired, turn the lights off” or “Get the coffee started.” To us, this is the most interesting agenda item of the first day, because the notion of smart homes is something that's bound to be making headlines – and transforming the way we live – in the coming years. 

For more updates from this conference, check in tomorrow.

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