The DL on WWDC14by Lloyd
Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) Keynote on June 2nd unveiled a number of software changes to OS X and iOS, creating a more integrated experience across Apple devices. The overhauled software will be released in the fall, but more adventurous users can download a beta version of the new OS X this summer.
OS X Updates
- The new version of OS X, named Yosemite, brings a raft of design features that bring it ever closer to the look and feel of iOS. This is achieved with a flatter design, removing gradients and introducing more translucent windows than its predecessor, Mountain Lion. Application icons are also being redesigned to look more like their companion apps on iOS.
- The Notification Center is a great example of this integration. This update not only updates the look of the interface, but also incorporates iOS features like iOS's "Today" view, upcoming events, reminders and weather.
- Safari received both cosmetic and functional updates, including a smarter address bar, an iOS-like "share" button and, taking a page from iOS, a new bird's-eye view for multiple browser tabs.
- *Spotlight, Apple's desktop search tool, also received notable updates that put it squarely in competition with productivity tools like Alfred. Apps can launch simply by typing their names in the search bar. Moreover, people can search other apps and tools directly from Spotlight, including Apple Maps, Wikipedia, contacts and events.
- iCloud Drive is a new service that is Apple's answer to Dropbox. iCloud Drive will allow people to store and sync their Photo Library and other files in the cloud and access those photos from any Apple device. Apple will offer up to 5GB of storage for free and charges for larger amounts of storage. iCloud Drive will offer up to 1TB of storage.
- Mail now allows people to share large attachments through iCloud Drive. Mac users can retrieve the file within Mail, while non-Mac users can download the file using a secure link. Additionally, people can now create annotations for photo attachments within Mail.
iOS 8 will receive several feature updates as well:
- Notification Center will follow Android's lead and allow people to reply to messages directly from the lock screen. This capability will also be available for use by third-party apps.
- Predictive type technology called QuickType that will present users with potential words based on the user's text history and the context of the current conversation. Apple will also allow users to install third-party keyboards.
- Messages will now allow people to share audio and video messages within the app.
- Siri will have hands-free activation and Shazam integration.
- A Family Sharing feature will enable up to six family members to share iTunes media across their devices using a single credit card. The feature also allows parents to approve children's purchases.
- Third party developers can now access Touch ID technology to make apps more secure.
- HealthKit, the much-anticipated health application, will help track people's health information. Tracked health statistics can be used by selected third-party apps with users' permission. Initial partners include Nike and the Mayo Clinic.
- Another major new application is HomeKit, which will allow iPhones to act as a remote control for smart devices like lights, garage door openers and security equipment. HomeKit will also allow these functions to be controlled via Siri.
- Finally, iOS will also include iCloud Drive and Spotlight upgrades that mirror those in OS X.
Continuity: Approaching a True Ecosystem
Apple premiered a suite of features intended to make using multiple Apple products a seamless experience:
- Handoff will enable people to share files, information and calls between devices in real time. For instance, a person can start an email on a Mac, pick up their iPad and finish that email instantly.
- Airdrop will now work between iOS and OS X devices.
- OS X can now automatically create a cellular hotspot from a person's phone when it's in close proximity.
- OS X will allow people to take SMS and phone calls on Macs.
Extensibility: Putting More Power into Apps
Another major development in Apple's approach to software is Extensibility. This capability allows third-party apps in iOS to communicate with each other through the existing Apple security mechanisms. An app like Photos can now use filters from the VSCO Cam app without jumping between apps. This approach begins to address a major opportunity to create a simpler experience for the user.
Swift: A New Development Language
Apple unveiled another big piece of news that will help developers create this new ecosystem: Swift, a new programming language that is poised to take the place of Objective-C as the primary language for creating OS X and iOS applications. Swift is designed to be safer and significantly faster than Objective-C.
People who use Apple desktop and mobile devices stand to gain a more seamless experience. Experts have noted Apple's continued trend of embedding this interoperability within its own ecosystem and apart the web through technology like Bluetooth, while Google continues to stake its claim on web and cloud-based solutions. Additionally, this move further solidifies Apple's positioning as a premium brand. If someone desires the "complete" Apple experience, it may require multiple devices---desktop, mobile and potentially TV and wearables.
Developers also benefit greatly from new product changes. Extensibility allows apps to get information from other apps more easily to create a more compelling product. Changes to the App Store make apps more findable. And Swift offers a better platform to create applications within iOS and OS X.
Brands that create Apple applications have an opportunity to get even closer to the user with these updates. Notification Center and lock screen widgets allow brands that offer utility or valuable information to have greater visibility.
Brands can also incorporate features from popular, established apps within their own branded apps to create more appealing experiences. For instance, a food brand's app could use an extension with Pinterest so users could pin products and recipes within the app.
Lastly, relevant brands can accelerate the creation of smart and connected devices by using the HealthKit and HomeKit APIs, among other features. With HealthKit, a pharmaceutical or personal health brand could create companion applications for particular medications to make sure their product is used effectively. With HomeKit, appliance brands creating smart devices could be controlled by a person's voice via Siri, or use iOS information to power up or adjust its settings when a person arrives home.