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Apple Takes Aim At Competitors With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite Features

Apple Takes Aim At Competitors With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite Features
Jason Galliger

Apple unveiled iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 Yosemite at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) today.

The annual keynote address reveals Apple’s latest updates to their mobile and desktop operating systems.

Key to this year’s presentation was the integration between Apple devices. Through a new system called Handoff, users can share documents, files, photos and videos seamlessly between Apple devices while composing an email, editing a presentation or other tasks. This is an extension of Apple’s airdrop feature.

The coolest part of this feature is that devices can sense when they are near each other and prompt you as to whether you want to switch devices. This feature also extends to mobile hotspots. If you are on Macbook or desktop and have no Internet access, your wifi menu will automatically display your phone to create a hotspot. Handoff goes even further with full SMS text message integration on iMessages and the ability to answer phone calls on your Mac, similar to WhatsApp.

Apple also took shots at a variety of its competitors throughout the keynote by integrating features into their new systems that you might find in competitors’ apps.

iCloud Drive creates a manageable online cloud storage platform where users can organize their content into folders and sync this information across all devices. This is a direct shot at Dropbox and Google Drive and is viewed by many as Apple’s Dropbox-killer. The first 5 GB of storage is free, with additional storage being available for purchase (20 GB for $0.99 a month, or 200 GB for $3.99 a month). Both iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite will be available in the fall.

In iOS 8, Apple made huge updates to the Messages app. Groups can now name their messages or threads, add or remove members without having to start a whole new chat, view all of the photos and videos shared in the conversation in one place, share their location information and turn on the do not disturb function at the app level to avoid those more pesky conversations. Apple also added in-line voice and video messages, which lets you add audio or video clips directly in the Messages app. Like Snapchat, the messages are auto-timed to self-destruct in order to save space. It is hard to predict how this will affect Snapchat. But one thing is certain given the continuity across all Apple devices, ephemeral communication will become more common.

Other iOS 8 updates include:

Third-Party Widget Integration: Third-party widgets such as ESPN Sports Center are now integrated into the Notification. Old notifications can now be responded to within your current application without having to switch between them. Users can now also respond to notifications from the lock-screen.

QuickType: A new predictive keyboard, QuickType will predict which words you will use next based on context and past history. But it goes one step further, learning how you type on which apps. For example, typing an email would generate more formal suggestions, whereas a group chat with your friends may not. Apple also decided to open up the keyboard to other third-party developers.

Photos: All of your photos now live within your iCloud photo library, meaning that your photos are viewable across all of your Apple devices. Another awesome feature is that if you edit a photo, your edited photo is automatically stored in the iCloud and synced across all your devices.

Healthkit: An all-in-one health app, Healthkit, provides a dashboard of all the users health information and will be able to sync with a variety of existing fitness apps, like Fitbit and Nike Fuel. Apple will work with the Mayo Clinic and other healthcare providers to transmit your health data from checkups while also building a real-time picture of your health that can be used to better diagnose any issues. Healthkit was one of the most-buzzed about features to iOS before its debut and represents Apple’s foray into the exploding health technology market.

Family Sharing: This new service allows family members to share iTunes purchases across six devices using a single credit card. The service will also allow family members to share videos, photos, calendars, or locations with each other.

Some other big news of the conference was the reveal of Apple’s new programming language called Swift. The announcement drew gasps of excitement from the developer attendees. Swift represents a genuine concern from Apple for its developer base. Without the strong developer base, many of the apps used today would not exist. Swift is an update to Objective-C, the standard programming language used in app development.

Ultimately, WWDC is about the developers. While the event has become part of the ongoing Apple news cycle and the subject of rampant speculation about software features from Apple fan boys, it is still primarily a place for like-minded developers to come and learn about new tools and technology that makes creating apps easier.

Stay tuned to Tier10lab’s for all the latest Apple, OS X, and iOS updates.

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