Being One of a Million Yosemite Beta Testers and iOS Opening up to Compete with Android

Just recently, Apple held their Worldwide Developers Conference at Moscone West in San Francisco. The conference was held from June 2-6, with a keynote filled with software related announcements taking place June 2 and numerous developer sessions the rest of the week. Apple’s two major software platforms received big updates, OS X and iOS.

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Apple had a massive WWDC, with 6000 attendees. / Credit: MacRumors

OS X Yosemite

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OS X Yosemite is Apple’s eleventh major release of Mac operating systems. / Credit: Apple

First, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, took the stage to talk about OS X 10.10, better known as Yosemite. The biggest change of all was the design overhaul, similar to iOS 7’s major redesign last year. The whole operating system is simpler, flatter, and more refined than the previous iteration of OS X, 10.9 Mavericks. The fonts, windows, and other graphical elements found within the operating system have changed.

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Apple’s new software has a flat redesign and useful additions. / Credit: Apple

Now that doesn’t mean Apple has skimped on features. The Notification Center now has a new Today view, which shows information like stocks, weather, and reminders. You can also add widgets from the Mac App Store, like an upcoming ESPN scoreboard. The universal Spotlight search has some new tricks up its sleeve. You can now search for Wikipedia entries, Maps, movie times, and other sources, in addition to just the content on your Mac. Safari is more streamlined and even has a new bird’s eye view of your tabs. Mail lets you send large attachments, up to 5 GB, over a special cloud server instead of over the usually limited mail server. Mail also lets you doodle on pictures and such for fun. Continuity is a way to seamlessly integrate your iOS 8 devices with your Mac. For instance, you can make and receive phone calls via your Mac’s speaker, even if your iPhone is across the room. You can also handle SMS texting on your Mac. Handoff lets you, for example, start composing an email on your iPhone, then picking up right where you left off on your Mac and vice versa. If your Mac is out of range from a good Wi-Fi connection, that’s no problem. You can use your iPhone as a personal hotspot if it is nearby. As a bonus, Apple is offering a public beta release, and I am one out of a million testers. Apple has told everyone not to post their own screenshots publicly, so I have provided a picture from Apple.

iOS 8

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iOS 8 is a huge release for consumers and developers alike. / Credit: Apple

After Tim Cook gave some stats about iOS adoption beating Android and more, Federighi came back on stage to talk about iOS 8. This picks up on iOS 7’s great design, adding many new user features and opening the software up more to developers.

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New features include things like QuickType and Health. / Credit: Apple

Consumers get a host of great features in this release, starting with the Photos app. You have an easier way to access your photos across multiple devices and some more useful photo editing tools. The camera even has a new time-lapse mode. Messages also receives some enhancements. It allows you to more easily share your location, send quick voice and video messages, silence specific conversations, and easily add and remove people from a conversation. Interactive notifications allow you to respond to a notification by swiping it down, without having to leave the app you are in. You can also respond from within the Notification Center or the lock screen. The multitasking UI has a new touch, with your most recent and favorite contacts right above your most recently used apps. iOS 8 has an outstanding new keyboard known as QuickType. This is a predictive keyboard that offers word suggestions based on the conversation you are having with someone and your typing style. Health is a new app that allows you to integrate with other fitness apps to provide a unified dashboard with health diagnostics, as well as an emergency medical ID card. Of course, iOS 8 also gains the aforementioned Continuity and Spotlight search features found on OS X Yosemite.

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Developers can now add more things to iOS, like systemwide third-party keyboards. / Credit: Apple

But consumers aren’t the only folks who get all the goodies. Apple did show some love for the developers as well. After all, this is a developers conference. Apple has unlocked some of their gates, by letting developers integrate functionality within Apple’s operating system and apps, something Android’s open-source nature has allowed for a long time. For example, developers can integrate third-party keyboards systemwide, so you can use custom keyboards, like SwiftKey or Fleksy. Also intriguing is a HomeKit API, which allows you to control smart home accessories that integrate with different apps using Siri. Developers can take advantage of Touch ID for unlocking access to their apps and such. Metal is an API designed for high performance games. It yields maximum performance from the A7 chip and allows the CPU and GPU to efficiently work together for optimal gaming performance. These are just a few of the more than 4000 APIs accessible to developers, who in turn benefit the consumers who use their apps.

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Swift is the next major programming language for app developers. / Credit: Apple

Apple has also created a new programming language called Swift. This powerful, new language is “concise yet expressive”, according to Apple. This will work in Xcode 6 and is designed for apps in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.

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Mac and iOS are connected like never before. / Credit: Apple

In sum, Apple really struck a chord at this year’s WWDC. Apple flattened out OS X Yosemite and added cool new features like Continuity. iOS 8 brought us many end user features as well as more open developer access. This definitely wowed many people, and I think iOS 8 will fare very well against Android L. Developers get access to OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 for testing at the moment, but look for both these operating systems to arrive to consumers this fall.

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