New Apple Mac, Mobile Features Coming This Fall

Apple’s Mac operating system is getting a new design and better ways to exchange files, while new features in the software for iPhones and iPads include one for keeping tabs on your health.

Apple executive Craig Federighi pointed out that data from various fitness-related devices now live in silos, so you can’t get a comprehensive picture of your health. That will change, he says, with HealthKit coming to the new mobile software, iOS 8. Apple is also working with the Mayo Clinic to make sure your weight, calorie intake and other health metrics are within healthy ranges.

Apple is also making it easier for various devices to work together. You can share songs, movies and books you purchase with your entire family. Macs and mobile gadgets will share more features, and you can share and sync files between the two more easily.

The company is previewing the new features at its 25th annual conference for software developers in San Francisco. The free updates will come this fall, though developers get a test version Monday.


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And the word of the day from the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco today is Yosemite. Joining us to explain is Ina Fried, senior editor with the technology news site Re/code. He's at the conference. Ina, welcome to HERE AND NOW.

INA FRIED: Yeah, good to be here.

HOBSON: So tell us first of all about Yosemite and what that is.

FRIED: So Apple used to name it's new operating system after big cats. They ran out after mountain lion. Now they're naming after pretty places. So Yosemite is the next version of the software that powers the Mac. And it's going to make the Mac a lot more like your iPhone looks today.

HOBSON: And what about the iOS 8? This is another thing that has come out. This for Apple's iPhone.

FRIED: So this is a software update, also coming this fall, that will make the iPhone and the iPad have a bunch of new features. Some of those are things that'll help developers write better programs. But some of the things that individual consumers will immediately notice are things like the ability to use external keyboards.

So in the past you haven't been able to use things like swipe to trace on your phone. There's been things like that. There's also improved tools for home automation and for health care so that if you're using, say, a Fitbit or some other thing, all that data from these various sensors that are coming out gets pulled together and can be used in a more cohesive way.

HOBSON: Well, I'm glad you mentioned Fitbit. This is the device that a lot of people are now wearing on their wrists to monitor how many steps they're taking in the day. And Apple also today unveiled something called Health Book. Tell us about what that is.

FRIED: So the tool site for developers Health Kit, what this let's do is each one of these things is basically a collection of sensors. A Fitbit is telling you how fast you walked, how you slept. Each one of these things creates data.

But what's really useful is when you can look at all that health information together and say, hey, I've been, you know, walking less and my weights gone up. Maybe there's something to that. And so Health Kit is a way for that information to be securely stored across these many different devices because Apple knows in the future we're going to have a bunch of these different devices, maybe even someday the iWatch, which they didn't show off today. But Apple's likely to do earlier - later this year.

HOBSON: And I'm glad you corrected me. It is Health Kit, not Health Book. I'm sorry. Some of these new words I'm still getting used to. It's only been an hour.

FRIED: No worries. It's a lot of jargon.

HOBSON: Right. So the big question is was there - should there have been more at this conference today? Should more have been announced? Is this kind of a dud or are these things just more important than they sound on the surface?

FRIED: I think people are going to be disappointed because everyone's always looking for new hardware. That said, if you look at Apple's past patterns, this is what always happens at their Developers Conference. They show the software changes they're making that paves the way for the products that come out towards the end of the years.

So both iOS 8 and Yosemite are coming out this fall, which means that when we'll see the new Mac. That's when we'll see the new iPhones and iPads. And so then is when you can really decide whether it's a dud or not. That said, you know, I think people are always waiting for something bigger. And I'm not sure there's anything that was announced today that is going to get the average consumer all that excited about what's going on at Apple.

HOBSON: Well, what about investors? How excited are people about Apple right now because after the death of Steve Jobs it has been a difficult road for Apple trying to stay as innovative as they have been traditionally?

FRIED: This year's going to be a huge test for Apple. Basically, they've had some slow times, but that isn't unusual when they're working on new big things. The question is how good are the new big things they've been working on?

CEO Tim Cook has promised they'll enter some new categories this year. Recently, at our Code Conference last week, two top Apple executives - one of them said this is the best product type line they've had in 25 years. That's a big statement. So they're going to have to prove it. If they haven't really come up with some breakthrough products by the end of the year, I think it's fair to say things are not moving as well as they were under Steve Jobs.

HOBSON: Ina Fried, senior editor with the technology news site Re/code joining us from the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco - Apple's big day. Ina, thanks so much.

FRIED: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.