This week at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced what’s ahead for Mac and iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch to bring convenience and continuity between the two platforms. With dozens of new features due to be introduced later this year, your Apple devices will become more much powerful and integrated.
At WWDC, Apple introduced updates to Mac’s OS X operating system, nicknamed Yosemite, and the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch operating system, IOS 8. Both updates will be available for free this fall. The sneak peek Apple gave us will make the summer seem to drag as we eagerly anticipate these new features coming to our devices. When you learn about these new features you will want them now.
Mac OS X Yosemite
Apple’s Yosemite update adds new features connecting your Mac to your iPhone, making both your computer and phone more convenient and powerful. Many existing features have been redesigned to make them more useful and accessible.
Sidebars, toolbars and your dock have become translucent to give you a better view of your content and open windows. Icons have been redesigned for a more modern look in Yosemite.
Notification Center also becomes translucent and allows you to personalize your Today view. You can add Notification widgets from the App Store to give you more access to information such as Twitter mentions, eBay listings ending soon, Facebook messages, etc.
The Today view can show weather, stock prices, world clocks, reminders and other important information you want in your Notification Center. These notices are customizable and interactive so when you click on them you get more information and can edit the information.
Spotlight Search on your Mac will become more inclusive, providing search results well beyond the files on your computer. Click the magnifying glass in your toolbar to open a large search box on your screen. Type in a few letters and your Mac will try to anticipate what you’re looking for, similar to a Google search.
Search results will reveal not only files on your Mac but also additional information such as contacts, calendar, mail, news, Bing, Wikipedia entries, websites, movie showtimes, apps, and more.
When you search for someone in your contacts list, you can view not only their contact information, but also emails, messages, calendar events and their Wikipedia page (if you have contacts who are famous enough to have a Wikipedia page).
Calendar has a new look, with information about your appointments in a side bar in Day view. You can see maps, contact information and notes to get a picture of your day at a glance.
One of the more exciting features of Yosemite is the improvement to iMessage on your Mac. Last year, Mavericks brought us the ability to read and send text messages on our Macs using iMessage. We now can read and send text messages between Macs and iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch so we can could type on a full-sized keyboard and don’t have to pull out our iDevices when we want to send a text.
This year, Yosemite brings to Mac’s iMessage app the ability to send and receive text messages from any type of phone, even those sent by Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry or non-smartphone users. The messages that appear in green in the Messages app on your phone now will also appear on your Mac with Yosemite.
See, iMessage: Team Blue! for additional information about iMessage.
Your Mac can transform into a speakerphone with Yosemite. When you receive a call on your iPhone you’ll get a notice, complete with caller ID, on your Mac. You can answer the call using your Mac without having to reach for your iPhone. You’ll also be able to place calls from your Mac.
Apple demonstrated Yosemite’s calling feature by ringing up new Apple employee Dr. Dre.
To sync files, photos, documents and other data between your Mac and iDevices, Apple is introducing iCloud Drive, a cloud storage service similar to Dropbox. iCloud will be available on your Mac in Finder and can even locate files in apps on your iPhone. You can organize your files into folders in iCloud Drive and sync them between Mac computers and iDevices.
When you edit a file in iCloud, the new version syncs across all of your devices so you’ll be using the same version everywhere.
iCloud Drive also works on Windows computers so you’ll be able to access your files even if you’re not using a Mac.
Apple gives you 5 GB of iCloud space for free and will charge $0.99/month for 20 GB of space and $3.99 for 200 GB of space. Plans are available for up to 1 TB of space.
The Mail app on your Mac has been improved in Yosemite with more efficient syncing and a new look, more similar to the Mail app on your iDevice.
Apple also is introducing Mail Drop, a feature that lets you attach files up to 5 GB to your email messages. Mail Drop sends these files encrypted via iCloud to the recipient. If the recipient is using a Mac, they can open the file directly in the Mail app. If they’re on a different type of computer or not using the Mail app on a Mac, they’ll get a link they can click on to download the file.
With the new Markup feature you’ll be able to write and draw directly on images, email messages and PDF documents. You can draw circles, arrows and write text using your trackpad and Markup can clean up your wobbly lines to make them straight and pretty. Markup also lets you sign documents using your actual signature.
Safari, Apple’s Internet browser, has been redesigned so that the address bar becomes a Spotlight Search bar and a favorites display, saving space on your screen.
The sharing button lets you share any webpage on Facebook or Twitter, and with your contacts. The sharing button automatically reveals the latest people you shared with. You can also subscribe to a website via RSS feeds directly from the sharing button.
See, How To Subscribe And Read RSS Feeds for more information about RSS feeds.
You can use Yosemite’s new Markup feature to mark on the webpage before you share it.
You can see a bird’s eye view of your open tabs in Safari, stacked and displayed in preview windows. You can also scroll through open tabs to find the one you want.
Safari has also become better at preserving your laptop’s battery life so that it’s nearly 10x as energy efficient for multi-tab viewing as Firefox and more than 3x better than Chrome.
Apple wants to make your transition between your iDevice and your Mac as seamless as possible by improved syncing between them. AirDrop now lets you transfer files, photos, documents and more between your iDevices and your Mac.
Handoff is a new feature that lets you start working on a project on your Mac and then pick up where you left off on your iDevice. You can also do the reverse, start a project on your iDevice and then continue it on your Mac. You can also open a web page on your iDevice that you have open on your Mac and vice versa.
QuickType is an innovation that’s sure to delight those who struggle to enter text on their virtual keyboards. This new keyboard learns your writing style and suggests words for you to type. The predictive suggestions also respond to the content of the message.
Apple showed the example of a text message asking if you wanted to go to a dinner or a movie. In the response, QuickType suggested the three choices:
- Not sure
QuickType also personalizes the responses based on how you interact with each person. An example was shown of QuickType suggesting more formal words for co-workers versus casual words for friends.
Apple says that it keeps this information it learns about your typing style and your relationships on your device to respect your privacy. QuickType will initially be available in 14 different languages.
You’ll also be able to add third-party keyboards such as SwiftKey, Swype and more on your iDevices.
Messages is the most frequently used app on iOS so Apple added more features to the app to make it more powerful and convenient for you to use.
You’ll have greater control over group messaging, including the ability to:
- Name a thread
- Add and remove people from a conversation
- Enable Do Not Disturb for a thread
- Leave the thread altogether
If you’ve ever been caught in a busy group message thread that veered off into irrelevancy, you’ll appreciate these features.
Other New Messages Features
You’ll be able to find attachments and photos in a message thread easily with iOS 8.
iOS 8 also makes it easy for you to send voice messages within the Message app using a microphone icon appearing to the right of the text field. Press the icon, talk, and the swipe up to send your voice message instantly.
You can also send video and photo messages within the app by pressing and swiping on the camera icon.
You can also reply to voice message notifications on your lock screen by raising the phone to your ear and talking. Lower the phone to send your message.
The Messages app lets you share your location from within the app. If you’re trying to meet up with someone, you can send your location which will show where you are on a map from within the Messages app. You can share your location for an hour, until the end of the day or indefinitely.
When you receive a notification on your iPhone you’ll be able to act on it from the notification without opening the app. You can reply to iMessages, emails, calendar events and more. You can even act on the notification from the lock screen without unlocking your phone.
Interactive Notifications works on third party apps as well as on Apple apps. For example, you can Like or comment on Facebook posts from notifications.
Most Important People
Double tapping on the Home button currently shows the apps you have open. In iOS 8 double tapping the Home button will also display at the top of the screen you your most important people — those you interact with most frequently and your designated Favorites.
This feature lets you contact these friends with a phone call, text message, or Facetime video or voice call.
Managing your email on your iPhone will be easier with swipe gestures to delete, flag and mark messages as unread. The Mail app will also give you more control by letting you navigate between drafts and messages easily.
You’ll be able to add events from email messages directly into your calendar without leaving the Mail app.
Spotlight Search has been enhanced on the iPhone as well as on the Mac. You can search for items on your phone as well as in the iTunes App and Music Stores, Wikipedia, Bing, Maps, movie showtimes, and Google.
See, How to Use Spotlight Search on iPhone and iPad for more information about using Spotlight Search.
Photos taken with your iDevices can now be edited with new controls from within your Photos app, adjusting for color, lighting, cropping and auto-straightening. The editing features are easy to use with sliders and your edits are saved in iCloud across all devices.
The Mac will also have additional photo editing capabilities but you’ll have to wait until 2015 for those to be available.
Siri will have added features in iOS 8, including:
- Song recognition
- Purchasing apps, songs, etc. on iTunes
- Streaming voice recognition
- 22 new dictation languages
You’ll be able to plug your phone into your car and say, “Hey, Siri” and Siri will be listening to you without you touching your phone.
With all of the iPhone’s health and fitness apps collecting data on you, there hasn’t been a centralized place to consolidate that information…until iOS 8. HealthKit will take health data from these apps and combine them to give an overall picture of your activity and health.
Apple is introducing its own Health app that will monitor you for things such as calories burned, heart rate and sleep patterns to provide information to HealthKit.
HealthKit will work with Apple’s Health app and third party fitness apps such as Nike Plus, as well as medical facilities such as the Mayo Clinic. You can have HealthKit monitor your health information and contact your doctor directly if any of your readings are outside the normal range.
Apple has partnered with medical providers such as Penn Medicine, Kaiser Permanente, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Duke Medicine, Cedars-Sinai and many more so that you and your doctor can share your medical information directly using HealthKit.
With Apple’s new Family Sharing feature, families can easily share locations, calendar events, apps, music, TV shows, movies and apps. Families can also find each other’s devices.
Family Sharing can include up to six family members who use the same credit card on their iTunes accounts.
If you’re concerned about your kids running up big bills using your credit card on their iTunes accounts, don’t worry, Apple has that covered. Parents can require that kids ask for their permission before purchasing an app. You’ll receive a message on your device when one of your children wants to spend your money with Apple and they won’t be able to complete their purchase until you’ve given your “Ok”.
Families can share photos through iCloud so that every photo your family takes with their iPhones will be available on all of your family’s devices. (I’m guessing there has to be an option for not including photos in Family Sharing.)
Photo search capabilities have been enhanced so you can search for photos based on location, albums and date when the photos were taken.
Apple also introduced HomeKit, an app that will allow users to control Internet connected devices for the home from their iDevices. HomeKit will work with Siri and have smart commands so you can say things like, “Good night, Siri,” and the app will turn off your lights, lock your doors, set your thermostat and close your garage door.
WWDC is actually a developers’ conference and Apple had plenty of news for those who code. A video opened the conference with enthusiastic iDevice users saying how apps have made a difference in their lives. The most meaningful endorsement was from a boy who uses an app to control his prosthetic hand.
Apple introduced a new programming language called Swift designed to make developing apps easier. Swift is available now and allows developers to code in split screen so they can see the results of their coding in real time via a separate window.
The company also launched Metal, a developer tool that allows for high resolution 3D images to be displayed on iPad screens. Developer Epic Games gave a demo of Zen Garden, an app that shows some of the 3D interactive graphics possible with Metal.
This video from WWDC shows the Zen Garden demo of Metal capabilities:
Also new with iOS 8 will be the ability for apps to share information, with the permission of the user. This capability will allow apps to work together, making them more useful and powerful
As with last year’s Mavericks update, Yosemite will be made available to existing Mac users for free. The update is due to be released in the fall but for the first time ever, Apple is opening up a preview version to the public for testing. If you simply can’t wait until the fall and want to help test Yosemite, you can sign up to be a beta tester at the Apple’s OS X Preview page to try it out this summer.
iOS 8 will also be free and available in the fall as an update to:
- iPhone 4S and later models
- iPad 2 and later models
- iPad Mini and iPad Mini with Retina display
- iPod Touch 5th generation
You can watch the entire keynote address from WWDC 2014 at the Apple events page.
What Wasn’t Announced
All of Apple’s announcements were software related. No new hardware was introduced — no new computers, iPhones, iPads, Apple TV’s or other devices. Some people had speculated that an iWatch might be announced but that was not mentioned.
Perhaps in the fall, when the new iPhones and iPads are announced, Apple will introduce a wearable device to work with HealthKit to monitor your activity and fitness.
Are you excited about the new features announced by Apple at WWDC? Which feature(s) are you most interested in? Are you going to sign up to test Yosemite? Do you have a contact with a Wikipedia page? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below!