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The Winners and Losers at Apple's WWDC Keynote

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

With 200 million iPads and 500 million iPhones sold to date, Apple can cause some serious waves when it throws its weight around. Here’s a look at who should be cheering after today’s keynote address at the Worldwide Developers Conference — and who should be stockpiling ammo and rations.

The Winners

  • Pinterest (and other social apps): Although an iPhone is my primary mobile device, social sharing is often simpler on my Nexus 7, which makes it easier to send URLs from the browser to lots of apps rather than just a couple big ones like Facebook and Twitter. As demoed onstage with Pinterest, the new extensibility features in iOS 8 will let users share out what they find online to more apps without having to leave the browser.
  • Nike (and others in health): With a data-consolidating application called HealthKit, Apple is formalizing its stamp of approval for activity trackers like the Fitbit and Nike FuelBand. In theory, offering a one-stop shop for your quantified self will make using those devices seem like less of a chore. Apple said it has partnered with both Nike and the Mayo Clinic as it brings HealthKit to life.
  • EA, Epic, Unity and Crytek: The game engine companies all got a shout-out from the stage as Apple touted its new graphics optimization technology, Metal. Supporting “console-quality” game engines may lure developers of more graphically intensive games, whom Apple wants to boost the clone-happy App Store’s caliber.
  • Bitcoin companies: This one didn’t get mentioned in the keynote, but it’s a biggie: Apple has removed its ban on apps that facilitate the transmission of virtual currencies, like bitcoin. The latest App Store guidelines say those apps are now fine so long as they obey “all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions.”

The Losers

  • Dropbox: Apple SVP Craig Federighi seemed a bit surprised by the cheers for iCloud Drive. But if the new cloud storage program works as advertised, it’ll be competition for cloud companies like Dropbox, which is already beset with big-company competitors undercutting its prices.
  • Hightail: Also on tap in file sharing: A new service called Mail Drop that makes it easier to send large files, like photos, without hitting up against the recipient’s mail server. Transferring heavy files is the specialty of services like Hightail, formerly known as YouSendIt.
  • Snapchat and WhatsApp: Apple is getting serious about its messaging app, integrating it more tightly with the Messages app on the Mac and adding new features like quick voice and video chat, as well as pictures that delete themselves after a certain amount of time. If that sounds an awful lot like messaging juggernauts WhatsApp and Snapchat, well … WhatsApp agrees.

  • Glympse: Also in the new mobile Messages app is the ability to share one’s location with friends, for a custom amount of time. Location-sharing social apps like Glympse and Highlight were hot a couple of years ago, but now may seem unnecessary if their functionality is replicated within a normal text chat.
  • Skitch: Here’s an example from Mac OS X Yosemite rather than iOS 8 — when sending a photo from the operating system’s mail app, it will be possible to mark up the photo with text, arrows and even things like comic book dialogue balloons. Evernote-owned Skitch does much the same thing.
  • Docusign: Along with Mail Drop’s ability to share photos (which Apple pitched as a feature for consumers), Yosemite will enable electronic signatures a la Docusign.
  • Anyone who doesn’t know Apple’s editors: This one jumped out at me given how much I’ve heard from iOS developers about the importance of Apple’s human editors to getting discovered on the App Store. Now, those editors will also hold sway in search results with a little “Editors’ Choice” stamp of quality visible on certain apps as users browse.

Stuck in the Middle

  • Box: The enterprise cloud company will be a storage option for users of the new iCloud Drive. That tighter integration with iOS devices is something the company has been hoping for for a long time, CEO Aaron Levie tells my colleague Ina Fried. But, just as with Dropbox and Hightail, iCloud Drive is still a competitor in the cloud storage space, and Apple will have a bit of a home-field advantage in iOS 8.
  • Swype and SwiftKey: iOS will finally support third-party keyboards, a longtime hallmark of Android’s customizability options. That would be all good for the companies that make those keyboards, like Swype and SwiftKey, except that Apple is tweaking its own default keyboard to include one of their more useful features: Predictive typing that learns and suggests what you might say next.
  • Google and Bing: Like Pinterest, Bing stands to benefit from the new extensibility features as Apple highlighted the utility of its Bing Translate tool. But it wasn’t a total win for Microsoft’s search engine, as Google was the name-checked searcher of choice in multiple demos. However, Bing is already the go-to search engine for Siri and will be the default for iOS 8 and Yosemite.

Correction: An earlier version of this article did not note that Microsoft is the new default search engine for iOS and Mac OS X.

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