01.Health and home automation focus
Apple has announced plans to turn its computers into a central hub for health, home automation and personal communication, with sweeping changes to the operating systems behind its iDevices and Mac computers. Changes revealed overnight at Apple’s annual developers conference in San Francisco have set the stage for the next decade of consumer technology.
Though Apple didn’t announce any new computer hardware such as the much-rumoured iPhone 6, upgraded Apple TV or MacBook Air with Retina display, the tech giant provided a new development platform for all these devices.
Users of existing Apple tech can expect big changes to flow through to existing iPhone, iPad and Mac computers soon, with the introduction of iOS 8 for mobile devices and the new OS X, code-named Yosemite, in a couple of months. Though still separate, the two systems feature stronger integration so they can be used interchangeably.
Major announcements at the 25th anniversary developers conference include:
Mac OS X Yosemite
- Better integration for the Notification Centre and Spotlight search tools
- Mail gets a new feature called Mail Drop, which lets users send files of up to 5GB
- iCloud becomes a fully-fledged cloud storage area for all kinds of files, finally offering Dropbox-like flexibility
- Safari web browser regains RSS feeds and gets cosmetic overhaul
- Continuity is a new feature that brings the ease of AirDrop file sharing to iOS 8, while Handoff lets you pick up work where you left off on any iDevice.
- Hotspot improvements give other devices automatic connection to iPhones for internet access
- Phone and Message improvements bring phone calling and SMS to Macs
- Changes to Notification Centre, Safari, Mail and Spotlight
- QuickType brings better predictive text
- Phone and Messages improvements effectively turn iPads into phones for calling and SMS
- iCloud Drive will open up better access to cloud sharing for many programs across desktop and mobile devices
- The new Health app from Apple brings together comprehensive health and fitness information, including data from third-party apps.
- Families is a new plan for sharing photos, calendars, reminders and also content across several members of the same family
- Photos brings better smart editing controls for pictures, including adjustments for light, colour and auto-straightening Home automation is on the horizon with a common platform for other companies to develop products that integrate with iOS, including taking voice commands from Siri, Apple’s intelligent software assistant.
- The App Store will allow developers to sell apps in bundles, while a new developer software toolkit offers 4000 improvements
- Games get a boost with the introduction of support for high-end 3D gaming and casual games
In recent years Apple has staggered new product announcements throughout the year rather than reveal all at one event, and you can expect new hardware announcements in coming months to take advantage of the software advances announced at the conference.
Apple CEO Tim Cook used his keynote address at the the week-long developer conference, to announce Apple’s road map for the next few years. It shows a more open and collaborative approach that will help other companies integrate their products with Apple’s enormous and growing electronic ecosystem.