At the WWDC
Keynote on Monday, Apple unveiled
new versions of iOS and OS X, and rolled out several interesting features. The changes that were
outlined go beyond cosmetic changes, such as support for Indian language keyboards, though there's no mention of system-wide local language support so far.
You can read our overview here
where it becomes clear that Apple is - as usual - picking up good ideas
wherever they find them, whether it's from other devices, or from third
party apps that were present on the App Store. While this isn't the best
thing for developers of those apps which are now competing with Apple's
own offerings, users do ultimately benefit as you get great features as
soon as you turn on the devices for the first time.
Here are our 10 favourite highlights from iOS 8:
1. Health in the palm of your hand
is one of the new features that might be incredibly useful to people,
as it can gather all the information from various health and fitness
apps and devices.
At present, if you have a different health apps or
devices, then the data they collect sits in its own silo, but the new
Health app will - with the user's permission - get specific information
from other apps and devices to more comprehensively manage your health.
2. Snappy ways to chat
gets a major update, and you can now add and remove contacts in group
messaging, leave a conversation, and set up a do-not-disturb mode. Users
can also go to an attachment view to browse through the photos and
videos within a conversation, and you can send self-destructing voice
and video messages.
These features could be found in different apps, but
integrating them into a single place sounds like a great idea.
3. Stay in sync
Another announcement that sounded great to us is Continuity, shown off during the OS X Yosemite part of the keynote.
Apple says the new continuity features in Yosemite make Mac and iOS device
perfect companions. When a user's iOS device is near their Mac, Handoff
allows the user to start an activity on one device and pass it to the
other. Instant Hotspot quickens the process of using the iPhone's
SMS and MMS messages that previously only appeared on the
user's iPhone now appear in Messages on all devices. Users can even send
SMS or MMS messages directly from their Mac and make or receive iPhone
calls using their Mac as a speakerphone.
4. More choices, more communication
interesting change is the increased support for third parties, even as
first party options become more robust. For example, TouchID is now
available for all apps to use, which could be very useful for financial
apps that want to deliver an extra layer of security, and Apple has also
opened up extensions on Safari, something that has been lacking for a
while. In another move that will bolster third parties, Apple has opened
the doors for third party keyboards.
With Safari now getting more
functionality, the need for third party browsers gets reduced, and
while third party keyboards are now available, Apple's own keyboard has
also been updaed with a feature called QuickType, which suggests words
while you're typing and also makes suggestions for the next word, which
are the kind of features you would have turned to a third party keyboard
for in the first place.
5. Family sharing
sharing, you can set up upto six devices, to share things like photos,
reminders, calendar, and also your books, shows and music.
devices can be billed to the same registered credit card, and if you've
flagged users as kids, they can't buy anything without the person, whose
card is registered, getting a notification.
6. Interactive notifications and widgets
part of a comprehensive program of borrowing ideas, iOS 8 has picked up
on BlackBerry 10's responsive notifications. Now, when a message or
mail comes you can swipe down on the notification and reply without
leaving the app you are in. It isn't a huge change - but any BlackBerry
10 user will attest to the fact that it makes sending short responses
much more convenient than before. Another change to notifications, is
the addition of widgets.
Apple still hasn't made room on our
home-screens for widgets, but you now have them in the notification
centre. There are many ways in which this kind of development could be
useful, which were highlighted by Apple itself, and we are excited about
this. The only catch is that the notification centre has been getting
pretty crowded, and we shudder to think of what it would look like if
Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans get to post notifications.
7. Goodbye Google
continues to be the default search engine for most of us, but Apple is
doing what it can to help us find alternatives. Bing now powers the
search function in Spotlight, on both OS X and iOS 8. Earlier, Bing had
also replaced Google as the search provider for Siri.
interesting is the addition of a private search option for Safari,
integrating DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo is a privacy focused search engine,
which has been gaining prominence as a sort of anti-Google, as it does
not track users or sell data to advertisers. Its audience is still very
small, but native integration in iOS might change that.
8. Hey Siri
and Google Now get compared pretty frequently, but this time, the
comparison might be more reasonable. Apple has announced several new
features for Siri, including an always-on, voice activated mode, that
lets you use it by saying, "Hey Siri". Siri now includes more language
support and Shazam song recognition, but perhaps more interesting is
that you can now use it to buy iTunes content.
9. Kitting out the Home
also announced something called Homekit, which lays the groundwork for
the connected home. The Internet of Things has been around the corner
for a decade now, but with more consumer brands putting out products in
the market, we might actually see this develop in front of us now.
Homekit will allow your mobile to work with things like locks, lights,
cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs and switches, and let you control
individual devices or scenes - groups of devices.
It might be some time
still before this becomes useful to customers, as the ecosystem needs to
fall into place, but it is a promising start.
10. Taking over the cloud
you're already using Dropbox then you know what iCloud Drive is.
Apple's first party cloud storage system will be useful since it will
likely get supported by most third party apps, but Dropbox is so
widespread these days that most apps mention Dropbox sync as a feature
on their app store listings.
Still, for people who don't use too many
third party apps, iCloud Drive will be very useful. The service will
come with 5GB of free storage, plus $0.99 per month for 20GB, and $3.99
for 200GB, which is pretty reasonable.
(Also see: 10 Big Changes in OS X Yosemite)