Updated from 10:08 a.m. to include thoughts from Oppenheimer analyst.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple
(AAPL) kicked off its Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday, making several big software announcements but nothing new on hardware. A major product refresh and update is likely for later this year.
Despite that, the conference sets up Apple for a spirited second half of 2014 as the maker of the iPad readies a software rollout for its upcoming new hardware.
This year's WWDC, held in the Moscone Center West in San Francisco, focused on iOS 8, as well as Mac OS X, codenamed Yosemite. Yosemite continued to converge with iOS, looking more like Apple's mobile operating system but it's still separate enough to be distinct. As part of OS X Yosemite, Apple announced new features like Spotlight search, making online and offline search easy, straight from the operating system.
Apple also enhanced iCloud for Mac OS X using iCloud Drive, which allows users to store files of any type, and find them anywhere, including iOS, Mac OS and even Microsoft (MSFT) Windows.
One of the problems with iOS 8 has been autocorrect, and iOS 8 is fixing that, with predictive typing, using Apple's QuickType keyboard. Apple also announced that it would allow, for the first time ever, Swype keyboards into iOS. Apple's iOS 8, which was released to developers in beta yesterday and will be available to everyone in the fall, comes complete with an iCloud Photo Library. This is a simpler, faster and more intuitive user experience that will give users a lot of new functionality. Within iOS 8, Apple has launched a new Health application that will centralize a user's health and fitness data and may cause die-hards to continue to wait for new hardware like a smartwatch.
Apple also gave Messages a boost, implementing new features that will allow users to share voice, video or photos with a single swipe. For some who have been on long, annoying group messages, Apple has now created the ability to remove oneself from those group messages. Apple also introduced a feature that allows some of these messages to self destruct after a predetermined period of time, a nod to messaging apps such as Snapchat.
Perhaps the biggest announcement yesterday was the announcement of the Health app, which may wind up being a precursor to Apple's long-awaited iWatch. The app, which works in conjunction with doctors, gathers information from a host of health-related applications and will provide users with a clear and current overview in one place. Apple also noted iOS 8 also offers developers the ability for health and fitness apps to communicate with each other, possibly opening the doors to more comprehensive health apps.
Additionally, the company launched what it calls smart home technology, known as Homekit, that will allow its users to integrate computing hardware with smart appliances. Currently, there are a few partners for HomeKit, Honeywell (HON), Texas Instruments (TXN), iHome, Phillips (PHG) and others. According to Apple's website, "HomeKit is a new framework for communicating with and controlling connected devices in a user's home. Apps can enable users to discover devices in their home and configure them, or you can create actions to control those devices. Users can group actions together and trigger them using Siri." HomeKit will allow locks, lights, doors, thermostats, garage doors and other home-centric items to integrate into an iPhone or an iPad, using Siri to operate them. Following the keynote address yesterday, analysts on Wall Street were notably positive on Apple's announcements, even if there was no new Apple TV set-top box, or updates to Macs, as there had been in the past. Here's what a few of them had to say.
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