One of the best things building up to the WWDC 2014 for us at Techsplurge was the unknown tag it carried with it. Not too much was known about what Apple had on its hand to show off at the WWDC. We knew, Apple was planning to give a new lease of life to its iPhones, iPads and Macintosh computers by unveiling new operating systems for them. iOS 8 in the case of first two and the Mac OSX 10.10 for the latter. While it was clear that there mayn’t be too many hardware related announcements, the air of mystery definitely had us intrigued.
So what exactly came off the WWDC 2014? What were the major announcements? Let’s quickly recap them all. And before we do that, no, there was no mention of any new hardware at all, and looks like we will all have to wait till the last quarter for that.
OSX 10.10 Yosemite
The star of the show actually was given the least time. Honestly, for us the best part of the WWDC 2014 was the introduction to Yosemite or OSX 10.10. It is worth considering that OSX is now almost 10 years old and to keep adding features and UX elements to give the refreshed and young look while maintaining the simplicity of the whole system requires some effort and Apple did not disappoint.
OSX 10.10 is to OS 10.9 what iOS 7 was to iOS 8. All the strong windows and borders have been replaced by translucent glass like effects which at least on demo rendered and synchronized with the underlying content beautifully. There are new flatter icons in OSX 10.10 and a new dark mode which will make the windows and all apps enter a dark UI mode for working late nights.
Spotlight Search on OSX 10.10 is greatly enhanced and takes cues from the popular Mac app Alfred 2. Clicking on Spotlight search will open a new search window in the middle of the screen where you can find suggestions based on files in your hard drive, web search as well as quick Wiki heads up content. Safari has been enhanced too for a faster and cleaner experience with enhanced tab view feature called ‘Bird’s Eye’ which basically segregate your opened tabs in form of small windows combining those which belong to the same website. The Mail app has been fixed for faster sync as well as quicker account switching and a Mail Drive feature has been added which basically lets you air drop attachments up to the size of 5 GB via iCloud to another Mac. The Notification area now supports widgets on OSX 10.10 as well as the ability for multiple pane view.
This is where iOS and OSX meet
Another interesting feature that aims to bring iOS and OSX closer is Continuity. This feature basically allows your Mac to detect your iPhone or iPad and vice versa. As a result, if you now turn your Wi-Fi hotspot on your iPhone, the computer will automatically latch on it without any manual entries or connections. Not just that, in case you are composing E-Mail on your iPhone, you can quickly shift to your Mac (once your computer detects your phone in close proximity) and take it over from there and continue typing the mail on the system without a problem. Apple also brought the ability to mirror your SMSs and Phone Calls from your iPhone to your Mac where your Mac will receive the text message as well as alert you during a call, in fact you can use the mac to answer the call on speaker.
The best thing about OSX 10.10? Yes, that just like the previous update, OSX 10.9, it would be available for absolutely free when it goes live in the fall. You can be a part of the beta programme by signing up here to get an early taste of OSX 10.9.
iOS 8 is the evolution of iOS 7
iOS 8 was never expected to be a breathtakingly major update after Apple did pretty much exact last year with iOS 7. As a result with iOS 8, it was all about building upon the positive feedback of iOS 7 and evolving into a better and more open OS while maintaining the security. iOS 8 brought some interesting new features such as ability to add widgets from third-party and resident apps in the notification bar, interactive notifications where you can respond to a message right in the notification bar or on the lock screen or simply shoo it away as well as your most contacted contacts just above the most recently used apps section in the multi tasking view.
Apple also unveiled the Healthkit service which will have the Health app on board. the main aim of this app is to collect all the fitness tracking data and other important body parameter data that several external wearable may be measuring. This means that in case you use a Nike Fuelband to measure your steps and a separate app to measure your Blood Pressure, all that data will be collected at one place in the Health app. There was also good news for families with Family sharing that allows you to add up to six Apple IDs as family and share your music and app purchases back and forth. Spotlight has been enhanced on iOS 8 too and you can now search for apps and files within your device as well as stuff that you do not have. For example, if you are looking to buy a song, you can directly search from Spotlight and buy it instead of using the search function inside the iTunes app. Messages also receives an overhaul and you can leave voice and video messages as well as title your groups as threads and quick or mute the notifications, something that most IM clients have had for ages.
Apple goes open, a bit?
However, the biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for the time when Apple decided to for the very first time to open up to developers a bit more. The dev section of the keynote was all about how Apple is revamping its App Store for a better discovery of apps by adding in explore sections as well as editor’s choice labels, wonder where we have seen that? Android maybe. Apple also introduced App bundles which will allow the publishers to bundle their apps and give them out for a discount if they feel via a single click. App previews is added too, which will allow devs to add in a video to their apps alongside, testflight, which is a kind of beta testing programme for an app, built right within iOS App Store. Siri got a minor update too as it has now been bundled with Shazam for music recognition.
Apple spoke about extensibility at great length, allowing inter app communication which would allow things like ability to add app option in the share menu or even the ability to translate a webpage or edit photos via the functionality of third-party apps like VSCOCam. Apple opened up to third-party keyboards too such as swift which will be able to bring you the stylish keyboard instead of the Apple keyboard, which by the way in iOS 8 brings predictive texting. Touch ID was opened to the third-party apps, though there was a strong assurance that all the fingerprint data will be secured within the local files of the device. Apple opened the API of the camera too to developers which would allow them to play with exposure, white balance and focus. Homekit API was also introduced which is basically the one hub for all your automation gadgets like lights, doors, thermostats etc, all following the same security protocol. The last announcement of the day was a new programming language called swift that you can use to code apps for both iOS and OSX. The language is fast, modern and interactive giving you real-time previews of the codes. It is built with the same LLVM compiler as Embedded C and has the same runtime loaded with generics.
iOS 8 will be available for full release in this fall, though developers with iOS dev accounts can download it today itself and will run on all iPhones above and including iPhone 4s and all iPads including and above iPad 2.