On the 2nd of June, Tim Cook took to the stage at WWDC to announce Apple’s next operating systems, iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. There was always talk that this year iOS and OS X would work together. 2014 is the year that changes how we use our devices on a daily basis.
I’ll start with OS X Yosemite moving on to iOS and then on how both operating systems work together towards the end of the post.
Features in OS X Yosemite
OS X Yosemite (version 10.10) features an all-new user interface and it looks stunning. For the first time in OS X history, the font has changed from Lucida Grande to Helvetica Neue. Some people are saying that this is a mistake (that small text used in the toolbars for example is more difficult to read) but I really have no idea what they’re talking about, especially on a Retina screen, the font looks incredible. The new typography will be used system-wide. Inheriting iOS 7, OS X Yosemite is flatter and includes translucent toolbars.
Again, inheriting iOS 7, the Notification Center in Yosemite will feature a “Today” view which will allow you to view upcoming calendar events, reminders, weather, stocks and more. For the first time, third-party widgets will be available to download from the Mac App Store. The new Notification Center also has a translucent background.
Next, Spotlight. Now, when you open Spotlight, you’ll be presented with a large search box in the middle of the screen which is much better because, at the minute, in Mavericks you’re simply presented with a small search box which is positioned in the toolbar at the top-right of the screen. With the new Spotlight, you can also launch apps by simply starting to type the first few letters.
In Safari, there are quite a few welcome changes that makes Safari even easier to use. The address bar at the top has been shortened and centred for a cleaner look. The biggest feature in Safari however is a new Tab View which provides you a bird’s eye view of all tabs you have open. It looks similar to the view you get with the mobile version of Safari.
Mail gets markup. It’s a built-in editor for attachments. For example, if I sent a picture of me at a football match looking at the stands, I could draw a circle around my face so that the recipient knew what they were looking for, that’s just an example when you could use markup within Mail. Markup also detects what you’re drawing so it automatically transforms messy scribbles into neat straight lines.
Features in iOS 8
Yes, that’s right, it may have taken a while but in iOS 8 we’ll be getting interactive notifications! I’m sure you know what this entails but incase you don’t, here’s a small breakdown. Interactive notifications allows you to reply to messages without being directly within the Messages app. When receiving a message, you simply swipe down the banner from the top (like you do in iOS 7) and you can then reply whatever app you’re in. There’s more. It also works with the Calendar app, where you can accept or decline a event. Finally, it will work with third-party apps such as Facebook and Twitter.
Apple’s keyboard hasn’t really improved over the past few years. In iOS 8, there’s a new feature called QuickType. QuickType predicts what you may type next and displays words above the keyboard. It also learns how you type. As an example, if you were texting your colleague and they asked how the meeting went, it may suggest the words “Fascinating” or “Underwhelming”. If texting your best friend and they asked the same questions, QuickType may suggest words as “Wicked” or “Boring”. Finally, after many years, Apple allows third-party keyboards in iOS 8.
You can now record audio and video with one swipe in Messages. Tap to Talk is an extremely easy way to send your friends and family audio and video clips. Messages also gains the ability to remove people from conversations (including yourself) and adds the Do Not Disturb feature on a conversation-by-converstaion basis.
There were a lot of rumours regarding Apple’s health app. The main rumour was that it was to be called HealthBook but that isn’t the case, it’s called Health which keeps track of personal health and fitness data. Health will integrate with third-party apps too.
Siri is now hands-free but for what it’s worth, the device must be connected to a power source. You can now simply say “Hey, Siri” and whatever state the device is in Siri will be ready for your request. Siri now has Shazam integration so if you’re unsure what song you’re listening too you can ask Siri. You can also buy the song straight from iTunes within Siri.
The new Photos app lets you view and edit images across various devices and saves an edited version of a photo which can then be found immediately on other devices. Photos are stored in the cloud and Apple gives you 5GB for free. Beyond that, you’ll have to pay extra storage. Apple have also provided storage up to 1TB but this will cost quite a lot of money. There’s also a search field which is very handy.
How iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite Will Work Together
I’ve saved the best till last. Continuity is, in my opinion, the best feature to come out of WWDC and I can’t wait to use it. Firstly, Handoff. Here’s an example. If you’re writing an email on your iPhone and you want to finish it off on your Mac, that’s exactly what you can do. Your Mac will prompt you and you can continue writing the email.
Next, AirDrop between iOS and Mac. With iOS 7 and Mavericks, you cannot transfer files but if you’re running iOS 8 and Yosemite, you can do that between the two operating systems. It’s a feature that was requested by many. Now, here’s the best bit about Continuity in my opinion. Your Mac is essentially a phone when running Yosemite. If connected to the same Wi-Fi network, calls and texts that come through to your iPhone will also come through to your Mac. Not only that, but you can answer or decline the call straight off your Mac. It’s exceptional.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting iOS 8 to be this big. Not only will we be getting all the features I’ve already talked about we’ll also be getting them smaller features that make the operating system, as a whole, easier and more efficient to use. Developers will love this release as they can now develop widgets for use in Notification Center, keyboards that can be used system-wide (they will replace Apple’s default keyboard) and finally, apps that require passwords to login can now use Apple’s Touch ID feature. I can certainly see banking apps using this feature, especially PayPal.
OS X Yosemite is also looking to be a great release, I’m a big fan of the UI changes, I think they look great and I know it’s only a font but it makes the whole OS more professional. I can’t wait to use Continuity, answering calls off my Mac is going to be strange but at the same time, pretty special for the first time.
iOS 8 will now go through the beta phase, as will OS X Yosemite. Both are ready for your download right now if you’re a registered developer but it’s advised you don’t install either on your primary device due to the amount of bugs and issues they have.
I’m now going to contradict myself as I have installed Yosemite on my Mac! I have partitioned my Mac’s hard drive though so I’m effectively running two operating systems. Yosemite is buggy, which is understandable but it does look great, especially on a Retina display. iOS 8 should be released in September after around five, six or maybe seven beta phases. Yosemite will probably debut a month later in October.
In my mind, I had a wish list for iOS 8 and Apple have certainly delivered. September can’t come soon enough. I’ll keep my eyes on how iOS 8 is doing in the beta phase but at the minute, for me, I won’t be installing it on my device anytime soon. I may wait until at least the fourth beta, by then, Apple would have ironed out all the major bugs.