iOS and OS X are platforms made up of many apps and built-in features, yes, but the additions to the latest versions of each indicate that Apple has been hard at work making the company’s vast ecosystem easier to use and navigate.
From Hardware To Software
With no new hardware products to announce Apple had time to focus completely on iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, and new tools for developers.
The only disappointment is hardware, but after all WWDC is a conference for developers, and to that end Apple did not disappoint.
Here’s a list of the ‘little things’ that struck me as being more than noteworthy.
For example, in iOS 8 Apple included a ‘Send Last Location to Apple’ in Find My iPhone.
Big whoop, right? In iOS 7 once a battery had drained in iPhone or iPad, you had no way to know exactly where the device might be. Now you’ll know the last reported location.
AirPlay gets a little love from Apple with a new Peer-to-Peer option. iPhone or iPad can stream audio or video to Apple TV without a local Wi-Fi network.
The Beats Goes On
With all due respect to Sonny and Share, Apple’s Beats acquihire seems to have take a backseat to the long list of new features with the Mac and iPhone maker’s ecosystem.
For example, in iOS 8, Safari has an option to ‘Load Desktop Version’ of a website rather than the mobile version.
DuckDuckGo, the scrappy little search engine which does not track what you search for and read, is now an option in Safari’s search.
How is being able to receive phone calls and initiate phone calls from your Mac (through your iPhone) not a cool new feature?
Ever notice how Safari on iPhone and iPad performed better than other apps which used built-in web browsers? That was by design. Also by design is Apple’s decision to allow all apps to use Safari’s faster engine in iOS 8.
Allow me a moment of geekiness beyond my literary talent and point out the new Metals layer present in iOS innards– which brings 3D to iPhone and iPad. Check out the Plants and Zombies example in the Keynote presentation. Absolutely freakin’ awesome.
Touch ID. Remember the fingerprint sensor in iPhone 5s? You can bet your bottom dollar it shows up in future iPads, and I’m willing to say to Macs, too. Why? Because it just works, and app developers can use it, too.
I won’t devote much to HomeKit and HealthKit because they’re more of a consolidating platform for devices, but a year from now both will be important differentiators for Apple hardware.
Wait! There’s More!
The list of little touches in both iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite are staggering. Apple seems to sit like a frog on a lilypad waiting for just the right moment to shove new features into the mix.
For example, you’ll be able to manage your Apple ID from iCloud user settings instead of iTunes or the App Store. Gone is the Globe icon for Emoji keyboards in the iOS keyboard. Now it’s a happy face.
Dashboard-like Widgets are on the way to the Notification Center, making it truly a center for notices. RSS is back in Safari with feeds in the Shared Links section.
Of course, no update to Apple software is complete without stealing features and functions from other apps, hence QuickType, QuickReply, Audio and Video Reply, ‘Hey, Siri’ command, and many others.
Finally, one feature near and dear to my heart is the new iCloud; iCloud Drive, specifically. Gone is Apple’s hidden iCloud folder on the Mac. Instead, iCloud Drive is Finder-like and lets you organize files and folders however you want– they’ll all still be in iCloud and synchronized nicely to Mac or iPhone or iPad.
The list of little, useful, beneficial, ‘little things’ is longer in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite than in any previous new version.
Now, where’s the next great thing?