At WWDC 2014 Apple showed off what they were working on for the past year with the latest iterations of their mobile OS, iOS 8 and the next generation Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite. As with all WWDCs and actually with all keynotes and general, there are features that were announced that we didn’t like, features that we liked and features that made us type with all caps in internal chat.
Without further ado, fresh from the WWDC 2014 announcement, we chose 3 features from iOS 8 and Mac OS X 10.10 respectively that we are pretty excited about.
Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite
Hands down, our favourite feature out of the OS X 10.10 Yosemite announcement has got to be Continuity. This featureset allows for a greater integration and synergy between iOS and OS X. While the hand-off, instant hotspot and AirDrop things are cool, the best feature was the ability to make calls on your iPhone via your Mac as well as answer your iPhone using your Mac as speakers and mic.
Granted, there are a whole bunch of software solutions for Android to display notifications on your Mac but nothing so far has made it this simple to perform this level of fluidity between mobile and desktop/laptop. We first saw functionality like this in a very early “proof of concept” by BlackBerry when we were in Hong Kong for BlackBerry Jam Asia last year but the way Apple has done it, we may not remember it anymore.
2) Redesigned “Transparent” iOS 7 Look
This was a no brainer for me. While designers around me lamented the iOS 7 redesign and complained it was too colourful and cartoony, most of us loved the introduction of transparent toolbars and seamless transitions to the mobile OS and now that the design language has made it to OS X, we couldn’t be happier. We believe that working toward a truly unified look for iOS and OS X is an elegance that Apple fans will love. If you’re not a huge fan of the bright, new transparent look, there’s always Dark Mode.
3) Spotlight Revamp
We’ve been using keyboard launchers for the better part of my time with Macs and we know not a life without one. Spotlight was always relegated to the dusty top right corner of the screen and sometimes with a terminal command, removed altogether. When Apple announced the revamp of the Spotlight and gave it a bigger presence on screen, it was an encouraging start. When Apple went further and told us all the new EXTERNAL actions we could be doing with our search query, that opened up Spotlight from being unusable to potential replacement for my current solution IF it gets more actions. We’ve always been a huge fan of Google Now and if Apple continues this way, we’ll be a very happy camper.
1) Third-party Keyboard Support
There’s always been an ongoing debate within HQ, about which virtual keyboard is the best. Those who are on Android swear by SwiftKey, claiming it as the only virtual keyboard to use, these same people have been impressed by Apple’s own prediction engine, especially its capability of recognizing taps for different letters for such a small screen.
Now, with support for third-party keyboards, why not have both? The new QuickType certainly looks very impressive, especially the contextual prediction engine that seems to take up on the conversation. But when SwiftKey officially makes its way to iOS 8, individual users can finally figure out for themselves which is the better option that suits them best.
2) Family Sharing
On the surface, Family Sharing is a great feature to have for families. You can sync purchased apps with up to five other family members, potentially saving you quite a bit of money – maybe not as much as Steam’s family sharing, but these cheap $0.99 apps do amount to a lot over time. Family Sharing also virtually eliminates the potentially scary scenario when your child “accidentally” purchases expensive apps (or even more expensive in-app items), as it sends an immediate request for permission when a child in the Family Sharing program tries to purchase something. Parents will also appreciate that you can use Find My Friends locations of all family members, so you can always keep a watchful eye.
But beneath that, Family Sharing is another ingenious move from Apple to lock entire families into the Apple ecosystem. With all the benefits mentioned above, it makes it more practical for parents to let their kids use older (or cheaper) iPhones just so that they can better monitor their usage and of course, locations when they’re out and about. Sharing apps may save families money in the short term, but in the long run these children will grow up already used to the Apple ecosystem, and will unlikely move away from it. Brilliant.
3) Widgets Support
One of the best features only found on Android is the support of widgets on the home screen. On iOS 8, widgets finally make an appearance, though in a more limited space. Widgets will appear on the Today View as well as in the Safari browser, but it’ll be on the Today View that widgets will perhaps be more appreciated.
Information will be easily accessible and more glanceable, a trait that’s more in tune with Android and Windows Phone. On top of that, the Extensibility API also opens up new ways for other apps to interact with each other, giving a sense of flexibility previously never before seen on iOS.
Article written by both Pang Tun Yau and Lucas Lau.