Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Apple unveils OS X 10.10 and iOS 8

Apple's WWDC14 has shown us the new OS X 10.10 "Yosemite" and the new iOS 8. Updates that will turn the Apple platform even more connected and easy to use, as well as answer a lot of user's complaints and request.

So, let's start with OS X Yosemite:

The new OS X does get its inspiration from iOS7, but no need to fear an extreme makeover like iOS7 did to iOS6. You get new icons but not "radically" different, as some might have feared.

There are places where the iOS7 inspiration clearly shows, such as the notification center - and you can even add widgets to it, something that against all odds... is also possible in iOS8 (but we'll get to that later on). Spotlight is now improved, and can even do unit conversion automatically.

Sending a photo by email allows you to quickly edit and jot notes and things over it; and if an attachment is too large for the recipient, he'll get an email with a link where he'll be able to download it from. No more bounced emails due to large attachments.

Safari is also vastly improved, faster, and even gets RSS feed subscriptions. You can now scroll though hundreds of open tabs, and you can see a "zoomed out" view of them all. Private browsing is now don on a per window basis.

Next, continuity. Something we've seen mostly in movies but now becomes real. Wouldn't it be nice if you started typing an email in your iPhone, but when you reach your desk you'd like to continue doing it in your Mac? With Handoff you can, and is done in a surprisingly simple and elegant way. Likewise, you might be working on your Mac, but then need to head out and just "hand it off" to your iPad, with just a simple gesture. It's a really amazing feature.

This integration is also present in calls and hotspots. You can now connect to the internet from your Mac using your iPhone without ever touching it; and if you get a call... you'll see it in your Mac, where you'll be able to answer it (or make new calls). All this while your iPhone is charging in another room - for instance.

If you still SMS, you'll like to know that they'll too be synchronized across devices just like iMessages did.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite will be available for:
  • iMac (2007+)
  • MacBook Air (late 2008+)
  • MacBook (late 2008, early 2009+)
  • Mac Mini (early 2009+)
  • MacBook Pro (half 2007+)
  • Mac Pro (early 2008+)
  • Xserve (early 2009)

Then it was time for iOS8... and there were a lot of "new" stuff, even if most of the "new" stuff are things you might have had in other platforms for quite some time.

Notifications are now smarter and more interactive. You can reply to messages without ever leaving the app you're in, as well as like or comment Facebook ones, and lots more - even from the lock screen.

Spotlight is also smarter and give your suggestions to what you might be looking, and the last app section (double click on the home screen) now give you access to your most used contacts - making it act like a contact shortcut as it once did in previous iOS. Emails are also faster to manage, with quick gestures to dismiss, mark as unread, delete, flag. And you can even minimize an email you're composing, so you can check something out in another email.

iMessager have evolved as well, now with thread management, that you can (thankfully) turn off notification on specifi threads, as well as pull out of any of them whenever you want. You can also send voice messages and even video messages with a "tap to talk" feature.

Keyboard will be smarter as well, with predictive text input that is able to recognize who you're talking to, suggesting professional terms if you're writing a work related email, but more causal one if you're talking to a friend.

You now get a full iCloud iDrive, similar to a full fledged Dropbox/Google Drove. With 5GB for free, and 20GB for $0.99/month.

Health is also one of the big new features in iOS8, working a central place where all your fitness tracking and health information can be gathered, and - if allowed - shared; making it easier for Hospitals and doctors to know your health history (you also get an emergency card with important info).

Photo management and editing is also improved, photos will stay in iCloud, and your iPhone and iPad will simple browse through them - with improved search so you can always find what you want.

Family matters, and Apple hasn't forgotten it. You can now create family groups, with shared photos, calendars, to-do lists, etc. And you can even share iTunes content like Apps, songs, movies and books. Parents will also receive notifications should their children try to buy something, and will need to give their approval first. App Store gets video previews for apps (at last!) as well as app bundles and new ways to explore and find new apps.

Siri will get a truly hands-free mode: just say Hey, Siri (similar to Ok Google); and you also get Shazam song recognition, as well as being able to buy iTunes stuff via voice. Voice recognition will also be faster, done as you talk instead of "at the end", and there will be support for dictation in 22 new languages..

But the best was yet to come....

Apple realized that keeping apps apart in their own snadboxes is great for security, but there are exceptions. Now, apps will be able to communicate with each other, and that will allow things like using photo filter from one app in another photo editing app; as lots other things. You even get widgets in your notification today screen, as well as extensions for Safari (for instance, a translate page widget).

As for keyboards... Apple will finally allow 3rd party keyboards in iOS. These keyboards will be highly restricted in what they can do, unless you give them permission to contact the web, for instance. Swype for iOS... that's just a matter of time.

Touch ID also becomes more useful, now being able to be used in any app as developers see fit; and there the new HomeKit that will make iOS a prime target for home automation devices (and you get Siri integration as well, so... "Siri, dim the lights please", will soon be a reality.)

For games, Apple follows suit with AMD and launches a new and more efficient 3D graphics API called "Metal". According to Apple and partnes, Metal allows for up to 10x improvements compared to OpenGL. And 2D gaming also gets extra help with SceneKit (expanding the SpriteKit API). Allowing you to create powerful games with just a "handful" of line.

Last but not least, Apple launched a new programming language called Swift. Until now, developers had the delve deep into an archaic and hard to master language called Objective-C, that was prone to errors if you didn't know what you should do. Swift takes care of all that, with an easier to learn syntax, avoiding all the common errors you could do, and with an interactive "playground" where you can see the results of what you're doing in real time. This will take care of all those developers that would like to create iOS apps, but "ran away" when they saw Objective-C. Now, Swift will make those - and more - come back and see how easily they can create amazing apps for iOS.

O iOS8 will become available later this year for:
  • iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, 5S
  • iPod Touch 5th gen
  • iPad 2, iPad with Retina Display, iPad Air, iPad Mini, iPad Mini with Retina Display

... Sadly, it looks like iPhone 4 has reached the end of life.

Here is a 10 minute highlight selection from the 2h WWDC14 keynote:

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