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This week is Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, and Apple took Monday as an opportunity to show off what their designers have been hard at work on since last year’s WWDC: Mac OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.
Apple used the stage to demo their latest operating systems, which feature an exhaustive list of new upgrades and improvements. The updates are seriously legion in number, so here are just a few new feature highlights.
OS X Yosemite
Yosemite is the follow up to last year’s OS X Mavericks. Apple’s keeping the convention of naming Mac operating systems after cities in California. Like Mavericks, Yosemite will be a free upgrade.
The Visual Upgrade
The presentation prominently showed the many visual upgrades to the OS X interface. Yosemite is a vastly different looking version of OX due to some seemingly minor graphical changes. There’s new system typography and icons, and Yosemite has a major focus on translucent windows, a frosted glass type look that shows the presence of background documents, apps and your desktop behind the active window.
The Notification Center is now getting widgets, miniature applications like a calculator or notepad. This essentially makes the Notification Center the new Dashboard.
Spotlight, the main tool for searching through computer files on the Mac, is being changed both visually and functionally to resemble popular app launchers like Alfred and Quicksilver. Results and related information now appear right in Spotlight, which is now a large centered window.
It now has better integration with apps like Calendar and Maps. You can search for a person in your contacts list and, in addition to regular contact information, Spotlight will reveal any documents or calendar appointments associated with that person.
Spotlight will also perform Google-like search functions, including measurement conversion and displaying local movie times.
Apple is updating iCloud to better compete with the likes of Dropbox. iCloud files now appear in folders browsable with Finder. You can also now store your own files in iCloud and have them sync with other Macs, iOS devices, and even Windows computers.
iCloud subscription options have been updated. You still get 5 GB of space for free, but you can also upgrade to 20 GB for only a dollar a month and 200 GB at 4 dollars a month.
A big new feature of Yosemite is continuity between OS X and iOS. Now your Mac and iPhone can interact in brand new ways.
AirDrop finally allows you to send files between iOS devices and Macs. This is a long-awaited feature. Now you won’t have to do some weird Dropbox stuff or use iPhoto to get photos off your iPhone and on to your Mac.
Hand-Off is a feature that allows you to work on a project through multiple devices. An example would be to starting an email on your iPhone and finishing it on your Mac.
Insant Hotspot allows Macs to automatically find iPhones nearby and easily allow you to tether to them to share the phone’s Internet connection.
You’ll be able to make and receive phone calls and texts on your Mac by wirelessly connecting to your iPhone. This also means that those “green texts” you get from non-iMessage users will show up on your Mac now.
OS X Yosemite will be available for public beta testing starting this summer, and the full version will be available for free in the fall.
A year after iOS 7’s debut, iOS 8 is looking to be the new hotness in mobile operating systems. Here are just a few of the new features of iOS 8.
You will be able to respond to notifications without ever leaving your current app. One example would be responding to texts without having to open the Messages app. This used to be one of those features that users would have to Jailbreak to get, but it’s finally becoming an official function of the operating system!
Updates to the Virtual Keyboard
Apple is adding a new system for predictive text called Quicktype. This system learns how you interact with specific people and will suggest words and phrases based on that. It may recommend some more casual words when chatting with friends, but then offer more formal choices when dealing with professional contacts.
In more exciting keyboard news, iOS will now officially support system-wide third-party virtual keyboards! Android devices have supported some very useful custom keyboards for quite a while now, and now iOS is finally joining the party. Popular Android keyboards like Swype and SwiftKey are already in development for iOS.
iOS 8 will expand your options for group messaging. You’ll be able to name conversation threads, add and remove people to threads, and share your locations.
You will also be able to use the Messages app to send audio and voice messages.
The HealthKit app will work with third-party health and fitness apps to create a composite profile of your health information. Apple is also working with the Mayo Clinic to provide real-time information and communication between patients and doctors.
Families of up to six members will be able to share things like photos, calendars, reminders, and more. Family members will also be able to share their digital purchases, including iTunes music, movies, books and apps, as long as everyone shares the same credit card information.
And, in a relief to parents everywhere, if a child uses their credit card to attempt a purchase on the App Store, the parent will automatically receive a notification to approve or deny the request.
Siri can now be activated with the voice command “Hey Siri.” Shazam song recognition is now built-in to Siri, and, once it recognizes a song, you’ll be able to purchase the song directly form iTunes.
Siri also now has streaming voice recognition, which will show the words Siri recognizes in real time, similar to how Google Now functions.
A Better App Store
The App Store will have easier ways to search, through a special “Explore” tab and trending and related searches. Developers can now offer app bundles to consumers at discounted prices. App Previews are a great new addition that offers video previews of apps so potential users can see whether or not an app is right for them.
iOS 8 will allow third-party apps to interact with other apps, essentially allowing developers to build widgets and extensions for other apps. Examples include a language translation extension for Safari and third-party filters for Apple’s Photo app.
Apple briefly mentioned HomeKit, their own home automation solution, which would allow Apple services like Siri to control lights, thermostats, locks, garage doors and electrical outlets. Apple will be working with leaders in the home automation industry to develop a new secure wireless protocol to remotely control home devices either individually or in groups.
Since WWDC is a developer’s conference, Apple is offering a slew of new tools for developers on their platforms. This includes toolkits like CloudKit, a free toolset to assist in integrated cloud-based services into apps; Metal, which improves 3D graphics capability on A7 iOS devices; and Swift, a new fast and efficient programming language for iOS and OS X.
iOS 8 will release for free this fall, with a beta version for developers available now.
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra