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Can’t innovate anymore, my ass.
~Apple’s senior VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller when he revealed the 2013 Mac Pro
People seem to think that Apple can’t innovate, and the folks at Cupertino themselves know it too. That’s why at the WWDC 2014 keynote presentation, Tim Cook and the gang at Apple made their first major attempt in a while to show that the company does have some unexpected new ideas and products up their sleeve.
What Is WWDC?
If you’re someone NOT like me, who does NOT follow Apple’s every move, or just somebody who doesn’t care what they do but still uses their products, you probably don’t know what WWDC is, so I’ll begin on that note. WWDC stands for “Worldwide Developers Conference” and since 1990 it is the main source of information and learning for Apple developers. WWDC features hands-on workshops with Apple along with presentations based on specific aspects of developing for them. The keynote presentation, however, is the main “attraction” of WWDC. That is when Tim Cook and other leaders at Apple get on stage to announce new things they are working on at Apple. This year, along with new operating systems, they unveiled something big for developers- a new programming language.
What Did Apple Specifically Do?
Apple released iOS 8, along with the thing that I found most interesting in the whole keynote: the release of Mac OS X Yosemite. It features a complete, iOS 7-ish design overhaul bringing flat icons and windows, translucency and simplification across the whole OS.
Mac OS X Yosemite: Apple’s Latest OS
Yosemite changed a lot in the Mac OS besides design. It added complete overhauls of the core apps, and offered cross-device integration like never before. This section will provide an overview of each feature in the new OS.
Spotlight has a new search window, and you can scroll through results. Spotlight now can search Wikipedia, Bing, Maps and more. It reminds me of a typing-only Siri, and I think that’s what Apple was aiming for.
Mail can send large attachments now (up to 5GB), providing your recipient with a link to click on and receive the file. It also provides the user with a way to annotate attachments, called Markup.
Like every Safari release, Safari in Yosemite is much faster. This version brings a single smart toolbar to get more done, a Tabs view similar to what was found on the iPhone in iOS 7, and, of course, a new, clean design.
Notification Center can now have widgets such as stocks and weather under the borrowed-from-iOS Today view.
iCloud Drive is one of my favorite things they added. It’s basically Apple’s alternative to Dropbox, offering heavy integration into both iOS and Mac OS X. It can be found as an iOS app, and as a feature in the Finder sidebar on Mac. You exchange files from Mac to iOS and vice versa with the new, integrated AirDrop. Apple knows that they are the dominant figure in the PC industry, so in a merciful way they are offering iCloud Drive for Windows as well. With iCloud Drive, every single photo and video you take or edit on Mac or iOS will be synced immediately with your other iCloud connected devices. Edits are nondestructive, and you can download photos whenever you want to from any device you want to. You default with 5 GB for free, then pay for 20GB/mo at 99 cents per month on up.
With the release of iOS 8 and Yosemite, you can now activate your iPhone’s personal hotspot from your Mac, so long as the device is reasonably close. The phone will show up in the WiFi menu on the Mac, and can be clicked to enable wireless connectivity from the phone. This, like most Apple products, is made to be easy for the user, thus it requires no configuration.
Messages now can connect with your nearby iPhone to take and send calls and SMS messages. You can even send short audio messages (Soundbites) to your friends.
The fresh new Finder was a needed revamp of Apple’s old file browser. The look helps a lot, but the new capabilities of iCloud and AirDrop take it home.
Even the Dock takes on a new look in Yosemite. As an integral part of the OS, it obviously needed that. Apple takes it seriously.
Handoff is yet another new iOS + Mac feature. It enables you to work on one device, and continue on the other seamlessly and without intervention. Handoff is compatible with Maps, Mail, Safari, the iWork suite, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts. Apple is even letting developers build Handoff into their own apps, too.
Apple is planning the release of a new OS X app called Photos for early 2015. It will be a multitouch enabled app very similar to Photos on iOS, except for heavier photo editing capabilities. Not much is known about OS X Photos at this time except for its integration with iCloud Drive.
iOS 8: What Happened Here?
*Pictures will not be added for this section due to both a lack of them, and because Apple didn’t make any major changes in appearance.
Not much, really. Apple didn’t redesign anything. All they did was added a few features here and there like time lapse videos, Mac OS X integration and iCloud Drive. They also added more editing capabilities on the Photos app. You can now add voice, location and video to a chat in Messages. You get easier Mail management and quicker ways to contact the people you care about most.
But what may be the most important is QuickType, Apple’s new “smart” keyboard. It will intelligently suggest words based on the context of your message and show them at the top of your keyboard to add to the message, just a tap away. The best part is, the suggestions and message scanning all happen onboard your device, so it never gets stored on a server somewhere. Over time your iOS device learns who needs to be spoken to formally and informally, and suggests words more fitting for every person.
Family Sharing lets you share purchased content with people you add to your iCloud family. It’s limited to six people, and you can even check up on each other’s location – particularly useful to parents. And don’t even get me started on Health. It’s a whole new app Apple has added to iOS that lets your smart fitness devices display information all in one place. The Mayo Clinic has announced that it will use the base technology, HealthKit, to develop integration with patients and their doctors to check up on patients from afar.
Spotlight is also better than ever. Imagine a Siri where all you have to do is type. That’s what Spotlight is like in iOS. Smarter than ever, and all knowing, it’s Siri without the spunk. Since Spotlight can tell where you are, you get more intelligent results than ever. And now that developers have access to a new programming language and Touch ID, just imagine what they will do next.
iOS 8 will be compatible with the following devices:
iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2, iPad 3rd generation, Pad 4th generation, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad mini with
Although in some people’s eyes Apple still can’t innovate, I must disagree. At this year’s conference, they have shown a willingness to do what people want. You might think Health and HealthKit are copies of Samsung’s S Fit app, but they’re not. Apple integrates multiple devices, while Samsung only uses their own. That’s innovation point one – doing what nobody else has done. Take Yosemite as well. It’s the first recent redesign of an OS that should function just fine for most people since it’s slightly different, unlike Windows 8 (which I personally love) which was FAR too different. Innovation point two – being bold and daring. Innovation is defined by me as doing what nobody else has done before, and I think Apple has proven themselves to be back on the track of exactly that.
What do you think of both OSs? Will you update ASAP, or will you wait awhile? Let me know on Twitter, via email firstname.lastname@example.org, or in the comments below.