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Apple unwraps 'Healthkit' alongside Mac, iPhone features

By Christina Farr and Edwin Chan

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc on Monday took the wraps off mobile applications that pool and analyze health and home data, kicking off an annual developers' conference lacking in big surprises, despite hopes the iPhone maker would offer a glimpse into its secretive pipeline of products.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook and software-engineering boss Craig Federighi told several thousand developers about new features that come with the latest "Yosemite" Mac platform and iOS8, the software that powers the iPhone and iPad.

Apple shares slid 0.7 percent to close at $628.65.

Investors are waiting for Cook to keep a promise to create new product categories. Last week, Internet services chief Eddy Cue said the pipeline was the best he had seen in more than two decades.

"The Healthkit has the most potential for the future," said Nils Kassube, a director of development at Newscope, a Germany-based consulting firm. "Those of us that are interested in health need a platform for sharing information."

On Monday, executives talked about "Healthkit," which will pull together data such as blood pressure and weight now collected by a growing number of healthcare apps on the iPhone or iPad. The company also announced an app, dubbed "Health" that will be an integral part of iOS 8.

The company will work in tandem with Nike Inc, a major player in fitness tracking, and the Mayo Clinic on the new feature, which will be included in the latest mobile software.

"That information lives in silos," said Federighi. "You can't get a single comprehensive picture."

Apple did not elaborate on other capabilities. The news follows Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's announcement of its own mobile health-data product.

Federighi also described "homekit," a feature that allows an Apple device to control everything from lights to temperature.

COURTSHIP

Apple has one of the most dedicated software communities in the tech industry, with more than 9 million registered developers. Every year, the iPhone maker and rival Google Inc, whose Android mobile devices comprise an estimated four-fifths of all smartphones sold globally, show the latest software enhancements to thousands of prospective developers.

Apple described how "Yosemite" will come with a much-improved Internet storage application similar to those provided by Box or Dropbox; how users can pick up calls to iPhones from their Macs; and how Apple devices would sync constantly with each other, allowing users to pick up on their Mac where they left off on their iPhone.

While few cutting-edge consumer devices or features were unveiled, analysts said Apple's focus this year was providing tools to developers such as a new programming language called "Swift" that it said was more efficient.

"These developers are sort of make or break for Apple," said Forrester analyst Frank Gillett. "You have a growing variety of systems where you need developers and content creators to make great stuff for Apple."

(Reporting by Christina Farr; Editing by Chris Reese, Richard Chang and Andre Grenon)

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