WWDC 2014 kicked off Monday at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, where Apple took the wraps off of the next iteration of both of its key operating systems in iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 Yosemite.
Let’s start with iOS 8, which the company is dubbing as “the biggest release since the launch of the App Store.”
The Photos app and iCloud Photo Library give you access to all of your photos and videos anytime, from any device. The Photos app can also automatically straighten horizons and adjust light and color or access individual tools for deeper fine-tuning. With iCloud Photo Library, every adjustment and effect is automatically updated to make sure that the latest edits are reflected across all devices.
Conversations in Messages become more immersive with the ability to communicate using just a swipe. Tap to Talk allows you to share your voice and the same gesture also works for sharing videos and photos within Messages. Group messaging now adds the ability to edit contacts, leave a conversation and an option to not be disturbed with countless notifications. Users can easily browse through all the photos and video mentioned in a conversation and share multiple pieces of imagery at once. You can choose to share your current location from within Messages for an hour, a day or longer.
The new Health app gathers information from various health apps and fitness devices and provides users with a clear overview in one place. iOS 8 offers developers the opportunity to communicate between health and fitness apps. With your permission, each app can use specific information from other apps to put all the information into one dashboard. For example, the Nike+ apps using NikeFuel will be able to pull in sleep and notification stats from a HealthKit to build a custom user profile and improve athletic performance.
New predictive typing for Apple’s QuickType keyboard is smarter and more personalized and intelligently takes context into account, such as who the recipient is and what app you’re typing into. QuickType understands the way you communicate, suggesting favorite phrases, so you can be more efficient. For those concerned about privacy with these revelations, you can rest easy knowing that QuickType’s knowledge is “encrypted to your device and never sent to the cloud,” according to Apple.
iOS 8 also introduces Family Sharing, making it easier to share purchases, photos and calendars within the same household. Family members can browse and download each other’s iTunes, iBooks and App Store purchases. Up to six members can participate, each with their own Apple ID. Parents can create Apple IDs for children, which include Ask to Buy, requiring parental permission for purchases. Family Sharing automatically keeps everyone connected by creating a shared photo stream, calendar and provides an option to locate family members and their devices.
With iCloud Drive, documents of any type can be stored, accessed and edited across all of our devices. Make edits on one device and the most up-to-date version of that document will be available across all devices, whether it be an iOS device, Mac, Windows PC or other device using icloud.com.
Additional features include:
- Interactive notifications
- Quick access to key contacts
- The ability to switch back and forth between the inbox and drafts in Mail as well as intelligent suggestions
- extended Spotlight search capabilities that give results beyond what’s on your device including Wikipedia articles, news findings and results for nearby places
- Handoff to start an activity on one device and finish on another
- Instant Hotspot to turn an iPhone’s data connection
- The ability to make and receive calls and send SMS and MMS messages from a Mac or iPad
iOS 8 is available now in beta to developers and will be available in the fall to consumers as a free update for users of the following devices:
- iPhone 4s and later
- iPod touch 5th generation
- iPad 2 or later
- iPad mini or later
OS X Yosemite
The desktop also got some WWDC love Monday as OS X 10.10 Yosemite was announced. Yosemite was redesigned to look similar to iOS with clearer controls, streamlined toolbars to “put the focus on content without sacrificing functionality,” an updated system font (the first in Mac OS’ history) for improved readability and a clean, consistent design among app icons.
Moving into the Notification Center, which has a new ‘Today’ view with widgets for calendar, weather, stocks, reminders, world clock and social networks. Users can also download additional widgets from the Mac App Store to customize the view.
iCloud Drive is a feature that works similar to Dropbox on the desktop, which is a cloud storage backup that acts like a folder on the desktop. With iCloud Drive, files are accessible from a Mac, iPhone, iPad or Windows PC.
Default browser Safari was redesigned with two new views. The Favorites view is similar to the existing “Top Sites” view that gives quick access to your favorite websites. The Tabs view displays thumbnails of open websites in one place.
Privacy is also improved in Safari with private browsing windows, which have already been implemented in both Firefox and Chrome as well as built-in support for search engine DuckDuckGo.
Safari adds support for the WebGL, SPDY and HTML5 Premium Video Extensions standards. That means that you can enjoy two hours more battery life while viewing 1080p Netflix video
The default Mail app has new feature enhancements. Markup allows users to fill out and sign forms or annotate images and PDFs. Mail Drop allows users to send large videos, images and files up to 5GB from the app.
The Messages app adds the ability to add custom titles for message threads, edit contacts on ongoing message threads, leave threads that you’ll no longer involved in as well as Soundbites, which allows for audio clips to be created, sent and listened to within the app.
The OS X 10.10 Yosemite Developer Preview is available now and will be made available in beta this summer with the final version coming in the fall for free in the Mac App Store.