Yesterday Tim Cook gave1 the keynote presentation for the 2014 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. I’m not a developer, and 99.9% of the readers of this site aren’t either so here’s the stuff that’s important for us ‘normals’.
OS X Yosemite
The newest OS will be called Yosemite – you know, a place in California that people other than surfers have heard of – and it will be released this Fall for free. You can sign up for the open beta program and put it on your Mac before then but, as I said on the podcast it’s probably not a good idea to put an OS beta on any machine you need to rely on.
A lot of UI elements – icons, buttons, menu bars, etc. – have been redesigned to look more modern and more like what we have gotten used to with iOS. And these designs seem to be getting much better reactions than the first designs of iOS 7. They’re not very jarring and seem intuitively functional.
Spotlight, which I’ll bet very few people actually use, is getting an upgrade to make it more like quick-launch apps like Alfred and Quicksilver. From Wired’s WWDC Keynote summary:
With Spotlight, you can now tap the magnifying glass to pull up a larger search bar in the center of the screen. From there you can search and open apps, pull up reminders and calendar events, or search information on Wikipedia or the web. Maps is also accessible from Spotlight—you can search for sushi, get map information, results from Yelp, and more. If you search for a movie, it gives you movie location and ticket information when applicable, as well as information about availability in the iTunes Store.
I don’t know if many more people will use it but it does show that Apple, much as they did with Sherlock, pays attention to how third-party developers provide OS-like tweaks and, right-or-wrong, incorporates those features into the official OS.
The best news for OS X, in my opinion is built-in support for DuckDuckGo in Safari search. Now you can use a search engine that doesn’t track you (ahem, Google) as the default search in Safari without jumping through hoops. Safari itself is getting some under-the-hood improvements, too, that will be transparent to most users.
There are lots of cool improvements coming this fall with iOS 8. Like Yosemite it is going to be free. If recent history is any indication it will come out right around the same time Apple debuts new iPhones.
I am really excited about actionable, interactive notifications. No longer will swiping on an alert just take you to the alerting app. You can actually respond to a text, like a Facebook post you’re tagged in, and, though they didn’t show it on stage, hopefully favorite or reply to Twitter mentions.
Mail on iPhone and iPad is getting some good updates. Swiping on messages to flag, mark unread, etc., is a nice improvement that third-party apps have had for some time. And the ability to minimize a draft email to look at other messages is going to be very useful, especially since message threading doesn’t always work the way we would like it to.
The iOS keyboard is getting a predictive text feature called Quicktype. And it’s very smart. Also from Wired:
Heavy typers will also enjoy iOS 8. A new keyboard feature called Quicktype, which supports predictive typing selections, lets you type “faster than ever before.” If someone asks you, “Do you want to go for dinner or a movie?” Your reply gives you options to select automatically, including “dinner” and “a movie,” so you can reply in a snap. This is great—Android and Windows Phone have been far more advanced in this respect than iOS. Apple also says that your typing is kept private—none of your keystrokes leave the device.
By far the iOS feature set I’m most looking foward to is the improvements to Messages. Now you can name message threads (no longer are they just titled with a list of who is in the conversation) and participants can be added and removed from threads. And if you’re in a thread that you don’t necessarily want to get out of but you don’t want constant notifications for you can mark it “Do Not Disturb”. Messages also supports quick audio and video messages and received audio/photo/video data will “autodestruct” after a while (unless you save them) so they don’t take up space on your device.
The iOS photos app is getting enhanced search so you can find that certain photo you took last year more quickly. And the Photos.app editing is getting enhanced with easier to use lighting and color adjustments. Edits will be persistent across all of your Apple devices but they are also non-destructive. Apple didn’t make photo storage free as some thought they should, but they’ve updated the pricing to be very affordable. Up to 5GB iCloud is still free. For 20GB you will pay just $1 a month and to go up to 200GB is just $3.99 a month. So, just take all the photos you want and don’t worry about dropping $12 a year to do it.
Apple announced Extensions. This is a way for applications to share data and services. The most important part of this for most people is that apps will be able to have a presence in the sharing menu and in Notification Center as widgets.
HomeKit, HealthKit, CloudKit, Metal, Swift. Right now these are mostly for developers so they can start making apps that take advantage of these new technologies, but it won’t be long before you see more apps for automating your home, tracking your health status, and other apps and games that use these protocols.
OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 will be out, for free, this Fall. Get them then. Don’t try to put beta software on any device you need to rely on. And the new developer technologies and tools that were announced this week will start being implemented in third-party apps soon, as well.
Some Links to Read
Apple - iOS 8 - Overview
Apple - OS X Yosemite - Overview
Apple Debuts OS X Yosemite, iOS 8, and Tons of New Developer Tools | WIRED
OS X Yosemite Overview – MacStories
iOS 8: Our Complete Overview and First Impressions – MacStories