I don’t care where your brand loyalties sit, there is one fact that cannot be disputed: nobody does anticipation like Apple. Even if you were living under a rock for the past fewweeks, I am sure you are aware that Apple’s Developer Conference (WWDC) began this week –kicked off by the now-legendary keynote by the top names at Apple. Speculation over the possible announcements has nearly become a sport in the IT-world, with nearly everybody hoping for something different. So what’s new in the Apple-universe? Allow me to give you the jist.
Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite)
Look and Feel – Aside from a new name, the latest Mac OS X release has a much more flat-looking, iOS-styled theme (with Apple really liking the word ‘translucent’).
Notifications – Widgets and customizations galore, the notifications on Mac OS X finally behave a little more like they do on iOS (plus, they are integrated with your calendar).
Spotlight Search – More power, more results, faster.
iCloud Drive – Perhaps the most exciting thing Apple announced today: competition for DropBox (if they do it right). The iCloud Drive promises to synchronize all of your content across all of your devices.
Mail – Casual users of Mail probably won’t be that impressed or even really notice the changes here. Something called Markup will let you doodle in your attachments… which sounds more like a novelty than a value-added feature.
Safari – Apple’s signture browser got a little facelift, with some updates to tabbed browsing (that provide some confusing looking thumbnails you can flip through). This is one that will need a test-drive before I can offer a true opinion.
Continuity – Let me say this one again: CONTINUITY. Perhaps I should say it one more time with some emphasis: CONTINUITY! Not only does Airdrop now work between Mac OS X and iOS devices, you can move between devices and continue wth the same tasks… start an email on your Macbook and finish it up on your iPad. I couldn’t possibly be more excited by this, I only hope it works as seamlessly as it did in the demo.
iMessage – While the updates to iMessage technically belong under the Continuity headline, for those that use iMessage –this is a very exciting addition. Not only can you send iMessages to your contacts from your Mac (just like you can from your iPhone), now you can also send regular SMS content as well… so you dont have to do something different to reach the Android and Blackberry users in your contact list! (this pairing of your smartphone to computer will also allow for features like using it like a speakerphone, as an example).
Notifications – Not just revamped in Yosemite, notifications recieved a lot of love in the new release of iOS. To start with, they are interactive (so you can respond to a text message for instance, without having to leave the notifications screen). In addition, the lock screen is becoming the new home screen –with widgets and customizations a-plenty now available to developers.
Contacts – The updated interface gives convenient access to your most frequently used contacts. Very handy!
QuickType – If you thought Auto Correct could make a mess with single-word predictive texting, just wait until you see how QuickType will try to anticipate the rest of the words in the sentence you are typing. This will either be the greatest addition to texting, or the worst… it remains to be tested and seen.
iMessage – Anybody who has been held hostage inside of a ‘group text message chat’ will be delighted to know that you can now set yourself ‘Do Not Disturb’ and get yourself out! Also exciting is the ability to add voice messages in an iMessage –something that will come in very handy for those of you who want to send a longer ‘text’ without having to type it out.SSwift
Photos – Time lapse photography and new photo editing software add some pizazz to the same old photos on your iOS device.
Health – Consider this as your total health portal: whether you use it to track your blood pressure, activity, hydration, blood sugar, sleep patterns… and share them out (with your permission) to your doctors. It isn’t the wearable hardware most people were expecting and hoping for, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction (and likely a little scary for huge numbers of third-party apps making money like crazy right now selling this functionality in the app store).
Siri -Nice little updates for the famed Apple personal assistant include being accessible without having to use the home button and now built-in access to Shazam (for identifying amd the buying your favourite songs on the fly).
Odds and Sods
Extensions – These will make the most sense to developers, but they allow access to the guts and glory of iOS (think: third party keyboards like Swype).
Touch ID – Now available for developers to integrate into all apps –login with your fingerprint… the most secure thing you can get your hands on (sorry, pun intended).
Metal 3D Rendering Engine – All you need to know is that this means you can expect even better graphics quality on your iOS devices.
HomeKit – The first step toward home automation is this API that gives developers access to securely control all manner of smart home hardware.
Swift – Another ‘for developers only’ feature that means ‘better apps, faster’ for consumers. Speaking as a developer, this is exciting… trust me.
A lot of people are likely disappointed by the lack of hardware announcements (though the screenshots used during the presentation sure did look an awful lot like leaked images of the upcoming iPhone 6) –but this might be a very wise move on the part of Apple: bring the developer event back around to being a software event. With that said, I think Apple may be in a lot of trouble if there aren’t an exciting bunch of hardware announcements in store for their next event (expected in the fall).