Apple's OS upgrades further integrate mobile and desktop worlds

Now, iPhones, iPads, and Macs connect in new and better ways

Published: June 02, 2014 05:15 PM

Apple's new desktop and mobile operating systems moved a step closer to each other, as Apple unveiled the latest versions at its Worldwide Software Developers Conference WWDC in San Francisco. The new OS X (code-named Yosemite) and iOS 8 will enable Macs, iPhones, and iPads to connect in ways not previously possible. iCloud, for instance, has been revamped so that the content on all of these devices can be more easily found, shared, and edited. At the same time, the devices themselves will be able to better communicate with each other, and even share capabilities. Both of these free updates will be available this fall. Here is a brief roundup of some key changes:

OS X Yosemite

AirDrop. For the first time, AirDrop will work between iOS and Mac OS X, so now any photo, video, or other items you have on your Mac can instantly show up on a nearby iPad or iPhone—once a major obstacle for AirDrop users.

Handoff. This new feature lets you easily work from one Apple device to another. If you started working on a document on the iPad, a prompt will pop up on your iMac so you can continue working from there. A message started on your iPhone can be completed on an iPad.

Instant HotSpot. If you’re using your MacBook in a spot without Wi-Fi, the new Instant Hotspot feature on the iPhone will detect your laptop and automatically set up a hotspot.

Computer calls. If you get a call while you’re working on your Mac, caller ID will pop up on the desktop screen, and you can answer from the computer. That works no matter where in the house your iPhone is sitting. You can also make calls from your Mac or iPad by tapping or clicking on phone numbers that appear on a Web page.

Mail Drop. This new feature will allow you to share huge attachments—up to 5GB in size—without compressing them.  The app actually uploads the attachment to iCloud and makes it instantly available to Apple device users you've e-mailed. Users of non-Apple devices will see a link that takes them to that file in iCloud.

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iOS 8

Interactive notifications. iOS's new Interactive Notifications feature allows you to respond to updates from various sources without leaving the app you're currently using. For example, you can  "like" the Facebook post of a friend right from the notification bar.

Keyboard. Quicktype is a keyboard feature that promises improved predictive-text recommendations—a traditional weak point for iOS devices. Not only will you see multiple suggestions for next words in a sentence, but the app will also make those suggestions based on the context of what you've already typed—and it's available in several dozen languages.

iMessage. Group messages can be named so you can find them easier. Also, you can check in or out of threads as your availability or patience permits. Coolest trick: The tap to talk feature within iMessage allows you to send a voice or video recording from at any point during the text message without much effort. For example, to send a voice recording, just raise the phone to your ear and start talking. You can share your location with other people you're messaging, which isn't really new. What is new is that you set a time limit for making that data available.

Health. Apple's new Health app collects data from multiple fitness apps, such as heart rate, miles walked, glucose levels, etc. and puts them under one roof for easier access and possibly more comprehensive analysis of your condition.  Some apps, such as a new one from the Mayo Clinic, will also allow patients and doctors to communicate in real time.

Photos. iPhotos has been improved to sync all of your photos across all of your devices and search for them in ways, such where and when they were taken.  There are also more and easier options for tweaking those photos with the on-board editing tools, the results of which are shared with all devices on your account.

Siri. Now you can talk to Siri without pushing the home button, and have her recocnize songs that are playing in the background via Shazam.

App searches. For the first time, you'll be able to buy multiple apps at one time with just one tap. Also new is the option of a video preview that can accompany apps, such as demos or key-feature roundup.

--Donna Tapellini and Mike Gikas


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