Apple’s VP of operations, Jeff Williams, took the stage at Recode’s Code Conference today to talk about everything from his pride and joy (ResearchKit), to the future of Apple Watch.
A full lineup of new software and products are sure to be announced next month at WWDC, but Williams revealed some of the surprises early, telling Walt Mossberg that Apple Watch apps are about to get a new SDK so they can run faster. Apple’s electric car project came up as well with Williams calling cars ‘the ultimate mobile device.’
Here are seven juicy insights into Apple’s future from the interview:
Apple is definitely looking to disrupt the car industry
A shareholder asked Williams what industries Apple is looking at with its giant stack of money. “The car is the ultimate mobile device, isn’t it?” replied Williams. “We explore all kinds of categories. We’ll certainly continue to look at those, and evaluate where we can make a huge difference.”
Williams then backpedaled a bit and clarified that he was “talking about Car Play as Apple’s move for the vehicle.”
Government approval is holding back the best Apple Watch health features
“The medical stuff being done with Apple Watch is going to be huge, said Jeff. “The hard part is true medical stuff requires study and regulatory approval and takes way longer than adding features to track sleep or steps. But the impact is so much bigger.”
iPhones sales were astronomical last quarter
“In the holiday quarter, Apple shipped 74 million iPhones. If you stacked them like pancakes, not only would they be taller than the tallest building, they’d actually reach higher than the International Space Station.”
Native third-party apps are coming to Apple Watch
“Third-party apps will get much better when they can release code natively for the watch and have access to native sensors. That will make for better apps,” said Williams, revealing that the new SDK for Apple Watch will be announced at WWDC next month.
Foxconn is the happiest place on Earth
“Tim and I traveled to China to investigate. It [suicide rates] had nothing to do with working conditions. Even with the big cluster of suicides, the statistics were a lower suicide rate than any place in the U.S. By those standards, it would be the happiest place on Earth.”
ResearchKit has already made breakthroughs in Parkinson’s disease
“We’ve already in short order learned some amazing things,” explain Williams, who used the example of the Parkinson’s disease research. “It’s not yet a tool for diagnosing the condition, but Apple found that a set of the control group have Parkinson’s but don’t know it.”
Jeff Williams would love to put a Star Trek tricorder on iPhones
Walt Mossberg asked Williams whether smartphones have matured beyond a point of needing to upgrade every two years, or what new hardware features could possibly prompt people to buy a new one?
“Hypothetically, if it could scan your body and do a full tricorder I think people would buy it (especially Star Trek fans),” replied Williams.