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Home and Health Are New Focus for Apple

Home and Health Are New Focus for Apple
By Michael Liedtke

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New tools for tracking your health and controlling household appliances were unveiled as part of Apple's updated operating system iOS 8. The iOS 8 operating system includes "HealthKit" and "HomeKit" options that may test how just how much Apple customers trust the Cupertino, California, company to maintain their privacy.
 


Apple is expanding into home and health management as the company tries to turn its iPhones, iPads and Mac computers into an interchangeable network of devices that serve as a hub of people's increasingly digital lives.

The new tools for tracking health and controlling household appliances are part of updated operating systems that Apple unveiled Monday in San Francisco at its 25th annual conference for application developers.

The revised software for Apple Inc.'s devices won't be released to the general public until this fall when the company is also expected to start selling the next generation of iPhones and iPads. A spruced-up line of Macs also could be coming before the holiday shopping season.

The lack of a flashy new gadget may disappoint some Apple fans who are still looking for proof that the company hasn't lost its ingenuity since Steve Jobs died in October 2011. Since then, Apple has mostly been making incremental improvements to the devices and software hatched under Jobs' leadership.

While those updates have been enough to maintain Apple's status as the world's most valuable company, they haven't quieted persisting questions about the company's future prospects amid intensifying competition from other device makers.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, Job's hand-picked successor, turned Monday's spotlight over to one of his chief lieutenants -- Craig Federighi -- to discuss the company's upcoming software changes. The new versions, which will be free, are called iOS 8 for mobile devices and "Yosemite" for Macs.

The iOS 8 operating system includes "HealthKit" and "HomeKit" options that may test how just how much Apple customers trust the Cupertino, California, company to maintain their privacy.

HealthKit works with a new built-in app on the iOS 8 that will store a variety of information about people's medical histories, vital signs, fitness levels and diet. Other third-party apps will be able to access the data with a user's permission.

HomeKit is aiming to set up a system that lets an iPhone or iPad serve as the remote control of an entire household outfitted with an assortment of digital appliances.

Apple hasn't given any indication that it plans to make these "smart" household appliances, although there is recurring speculation that the company eventually will release a TV set that gives its services access to the biggest screen in most people's homes.

For now, Apple appears content serving as a sort of digital butler in homes. In a hypothetical example sketched out Monday, Federighi said a homeowner with an iOS 8 device might be able to announce "it's time to go to bed," at which point doors would automatically lock, lights would dim and the thermostat temperature would be adjusted by Apple's digital assistant, Siri. (continued...)

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© 2014 Associated Press under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.
 

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