Apple Announces iOS 8 with Touch ID for Apps, QuickType, Third-Party Keyboards and More
Monday June 2, 2014 11:11 am PDT by Marianne Schultz
Apple announced iOS 8 at the keynote event of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference today. iOS 8 gets a multitude of new features for consumers, including revamped notification features, an upgrade to auto-correct called QuickType, support for third-party keyboards, improvements to Mail, and a new health tracking component called Health.
Interactive notifications let users pull down notifications and interact with them to respond to text messages or other notifications without leaving the current open app, or complete actions from notifications shown on the lock screen. In a demo, Craig Federighi was able to reply to an iMessage and like a Facebook post directly from the on-screen notification, which popped over a separate app he was using.
A new feature in the iOS keyboard called QuickType, adds predictive typing suggestions that adapt to the current context. QuickType learns each users habits and language while protecting privacy. Along with QuickType enhancing the existing iOS keyboards, Apple is going to allow users to install third-party keyboards for the first time, which means keyboards like Swype can be used natively on the operating system.
Messages gets the ability to name conversation threads, add and remove people from group conversations, allow users to leave group conversations, a feature that has been much-requested by users. In addition to leaving a message thread, users also have the option to turn on "Do Not Disturb," which will mute message notifications from a noisy group message thread.
With iOS 8, Messages allows users to share their locations right within the app. It also allows audio and video messages to be recorded directly in the Messages app and sent to friends. These messages can be viewed inline or via the lock screen. Craig Federighi showed off a neat trick with an audio message -- he held the phone up to his ear to reply, with the message automatically sending when he lowered the phone.
HealthKit is a new developer API that will gather and consolidate users' health information from multiple sources and apps, such as those from Nike and Fitbit. A corresponding "Health" app will monitor fitness metrics, linking into third-party apps to gather data.
Apple has been testing HealthKit with the Mayo Clinic, letting patients and doctors work together using HealthKit to get personalized thresholds for readings, notifying doctors automatically when something is wrong. HealthKit aims to bridge the gap between patients, doctors, and health-tracking devices. According to the Mayo Clinic, HealthKit has the potential to "revolutionize" how the health industry works.
Siri gets several updates, with the ability to be invoked hands-free with the phrase "Hey, Siri" along with Shazam song recognition, 22 new dictation languages, streaming voice recognition to show users search results as they speak, and more.
There are thousands of new APIs for developers, and one of the most exciting of those was Extensibility. This feature allows apps within iOS 8 to share information with each other and with the Notification Center. Demoed on stage, Extensibility allowed filters from third-party apps to be used directly on pictures within the Photos app and it also brought Bing translation to Safari.
Extensibility also allows apps to install widgets within the Notification Center, which work similar to existing Apple widgets for the Calendar, Stocks, and more. This was demoed with an ESPN SportsCenter widget, which allowed sports scores to be displayed automatically within Notification Center.
Developers will also be able to access Touch ID for the first time to protect sensitive apps. Fingerprint data will be kept separate, but authentication will automatically unlock passwords stored in keychain to grant user access to apps.
A Family Sharing feature will let families share photos, calendars, reminders, and more among up to six family members at once. Family Sharing also allows families (of up to 6 people) with Apple ID accounts using the same credit card to share apps and books. With Family Sharing enabled, when a child attempts to purchase an app, an adult will get a popup on their own device asking them to approve the purchase.
iOS 8 will support most recent Apple iOS devices with the notable exception of the iPhone 4. iOS 8 will be available to developers as a beta today and it will be released to the public in the fall.
Apple Announces OS X Yosemite with Improved Cross-Device Connectivity and New User Interface
Monday June 2, 2014 10:52 am PDT by Husain Sumra
Apple today announced the latest version of its Mac operating system, OS X Yosemite. The sequel to last year's OS X Mavericks, Yosemite includes a user interface redesign, as well as major new features focusing on seamless integration between Mac and iOS devices, a new cloud storage system called iCloud Drive, as well as the ability to make phone calls and send text messages through an iPhone.
Continuity is the biggest new feature of OS X Yosemite, improving the connection between Macs and iOS devices. With Continuity, it's possible to share files between Mac and iOS devices and it's also possible to make phone calls on a Mac via an iPhone.
AirDrop finally allows users to share files, photos, and more between iOS devices and Macs. Previously, this feature only allowed files to be shared from Mac to Mac or from iPhone to iPhone, which means sharing files from an iOS device to a Mac will now be far easier. Apple also debuted Handoff, which is a feature that allows iOS devices and Macs to recognize one another, letting users seamlessly transition from one device to another. For example, if a webpage is opened on Safari on a Mac, a user can pick up an iPhone and continue browsing that same site on his iOS device. In a demo on stage, the function was used to show an email started on the Mac continued on an iPhone.
Through Continuity, iPhone communications integration allows users to make and answer phone calls sent to their iPhones right on their Macs. "Green bubble" SMS messages from Android also now show up on Macs, and it's easier than ever for a Mac to connect to an iPhone hotspot.
Design and Notification Center
The new UI is very similar to the flat look of iOS 7 with translucent windows, a new dock and app icons and an all-new notification center with a Today pane and both first- and third-party widgets like Weather and SportsCenter. There's also a new dark mode, which lets users turn the overall interface into the more darkened tone of Notification Center.
Spotlight has a brand new interface which looks somewhat like third-party Mac apps likeAlfred and Quicksilver and pops up in the center of the desktop. The new Spotlight allows users to not only search through their computer, but online through sources like Wikipedia, Yelp and for live movie times. In addition, Spotlight can do unit conversions, like converting miles to kilometers.
Another significant new feature is iCloud Drive, a Dropbox-like service that syncs documents across Macs, iOS devices and Windows. It offers an iCloud storage folder directly within Finder so users can see exactly which files they have in iCloud and it is accessible from both Macs and iOS devices. Apple has introduced new pricing for iCloud with the debut of iCloud Drive. The first 5GB of iCloud storage is free, while 20GB costs $0.99 per month and 200GB costs $3.99 per month. Tiers of up to 1TB are also available.
Improvements to the Mail app in Yosemite include Mail Drop and Markup. Mail Drop's intention is to solve the problem of sending attachments that are far too large and result in failed sendings. iCloud now encrypts the attachments and sends the recipient a link to the attachment if it's too large. Attachments are limited to 5 GB. Markup allows users to sketch and doodle on emails, much like Evernote's Skitch.
Safari has also seen improvements with a new "bird's eye" tab view, improved Privacy windows, and support for advanced HTML5 video, allowing for a 2 hour increase in battery life when streaming Netflix. The new tab view, essentially designed to replace the existing bookmarks bar, allows users to see a bird's eye view of all open tabs and lets users to bunch tabs together. Smart suggestions, which display favorite sites directly under the search bar, also help to replace the bookmarks bar.
OS X Yosemite is available today to registered developers and will be launched to the public this fall. There will also be an public open beta program launched later this summer. OS X Yosemite will be a free upgrade for all users.