Last week Apple held their annual WWDC in California and it was a pretty big event (you can watch it here). If you were watching and you’re not a developer or have a little insight into the dev world it may not have seemed like an earth-shattering Keynote, but it was.
I got a bunch of stuff that I wanted from my wishlist. I’m going to go through each wish, then on to some of the features that Apple did unveil.
To preface this, Apple did say that they wouldn’t have time to go over every new feature in both iOS and OS X, so some of these that I mark as wishes that I didn’t get may prove to be false. However, a week after iOS 8 and Yosemite have been available to developers a lot of those unmentioned features have leaked out (so much for the NDA, I guess?).
Mac OS X Yosemite
Yosemite (Mac OS X 10.10) brought a redesign to OS X that we all knew was coming. The design looks like a great marriage of iOS 7 and the existing OS X interface from Mavericks (OS X 10.9). Some of the translucency may prove distracting, but we won’t really know until the final version is seeded this fall.
Siri on OS X – No
Sadly Yosemite did not bring Siri, my only OS X wish, with the redesign and new features. Apple still could announce it prior to Yosemite’s release this fall, but it’s unlikely because something that big would have definitely warranted some demo time in the Keynote. We’ll have to wait for OS X 10.11 in 2015 at least.
iOS 7 carryover wishes
Removing preinstalled apps – No
We won’t be able to hide or delete preinstalled apps in iOS 8.
Setting default apps – No
We also did not get my other iOS 7 carryover wish of setting default apps. This would definitely tie into removing/hiding preinstalled apps, so I doubt we’ll get one without the other. If ever.
Sharing menu – Yes
Apple made it possible for developers to add their apps to the sharing screen, and gave users the ability to rearrange and turn off apps in that sharing screen.
New wishes for iOS 8
AirDrop between OS X and iOS – Yes
Kicking off the new features for iOS 8, we did get AirDrop to OS X which really surprised me. I did not think this one was coming, but with the announcement of iCloud Drive it’s a no brainer.
iCloud storage – Yes
Apple did announce iCloud Drive which could be huge (with the caveat that I saw every developer or techie mention on Twitter: if it works). A few years ago Apple tried to buy Dropbox, which Dropbox turned down. As a Mac and Dropbox user this was unfortunate because it could have been amazing for Apple to be able to bake Dropbox into OS X from the code level, and having syncing done correctly much earlier.
iCloud Drive gives you a Dropbox like interface on all of your devices. That’s pretty slick.
And to my wish, Apple didn’t give us any more free storage (unfortunately), but they did lower the prices on storage. They’re not as competitive as Google Drive’s prices but it’s definitely an improvement.
Touch ID – Yes
Apple announced APIs for Touch ID so developers will be able to utilize it for apps.
Notification Center overhaul – Yes
Notification Center got a massive reworking. The mysterious ‘Missed Tab’ is gone which is great.
Notification Center also got a great addition of widgets, add-ons that developers can build that you have the ability to add or remove from the notification screen. Sports scores, more weather information, and so much more will be more readily available.
Control Center – Unsure/no
I haven’t read anything about Control Center customizations so far, so it looks like this is my first DOA for iOS 8 wishes.
Messages – Yes
Thank you, Apple. Their overhaul to Messages is exactly what I wanted. You can mute notifications per thread, leave threads (bye bye annoying group texts!), drop people from threads among other new features, including receiving SMS and MMS messages on your Mac. That’s huge, especially for someone like me who is behind their computer screen almost all day.
Other additions to Messages include sharing your location in your conversation, and getting a better view of every photo and video sent in thread.
Siri – Kind of
Siri got the Shazam capability that was rumored in the run up to WWDC, but she’s still not as powerful as Google Now.
You can wake up Siri by saying “Hey, Siri” (like Google Now’s “Okay Google/Glass”) but your device has to be plugged in. This is helpful in the car, but not anywhere else. Saying “Hey Siri” and having Siri pop up on my phone, or better yet, in my office on my iMac would be amazing. We’d be one step closer to getting J.A.R.V.I.S., and isn’t that what we all want?
Apparently dictation will be improved too, hopefully that’s true.
Siri still has a long way to go, but she’s getting there.
New features for OS X Yosemite and iOS 8
Apple did unveil some awesome new features (including Swift, a new development language that I won’t dive into because I’m not a dev), and they brought iOS and OS X even closer together with a feature called Continuity.
Continuity will do things like allow you to answer your phone, SMS/MMS messages on any device, iPhone, iPad, or Mac. That’s so cool. That means if your iPhone is charging in your bedroom and you’re across the house with your iPad and your phone rings you no longer need to run across the house to answer your phone, you can pick the call right up on your iPad.
This feature will also allow you to start an email or work on a number of documents on one device and pick them up on another device. These features may lead me back to using Safari and Apple Mail on the desktop, but it’s doubtful I will stick with it. Hopefully developers and users will be able to work with this using third party apps.
These features are big. This is what we were told the future of computing and technology would be. We’re in the future, albeit a future without hoverboards.
Advanced developer tools will give developers something new to work with in iOS 8, they can now build their apps to work with other apps and share data across apps. The possibilities here are limitless as iOS will start to work like OS X does in this way.
Photo backups on iOS are actually a thing now (and tie into iCloud Drive). Apple will now back up your (full resolution) photos and videos to iCloud Drive, and they will be available on every device. There are also a lot more tools, including time lapse for videos, a timer for photos, as well as adjustments for light, color, exposure, etc.. Apple will even be rolling out an upgrade (or replacement) for iPhoto for Mac sometime next year.
Apple increasing the default storage limit for iCloud would have made this feature incredibly useful, but I fear that people will just turn off backups once their storage quota is met. People are going to be in for a huge awakening when their iPhone or Mac hard drives crap out and they have no photos of their children or special events in their lives. Remember, backups are important.
Health on iOS is interesting, and could be a cool thing for developers to build on. But I think the most useful thing about the Health “app” is the emergency card. I’ve often thought about how if something ever happened to me, how would a medic or first responder get in contact with my wife or know any allergies or medical conditions that I have? The Medical ID card, which is available on lock screens (even with the passcode on) to anyone that picks up the device.
So how’d we do?
Seven wishes crossed off my list, with four remaining. Not a bad WWDC for me.
But really, this was a huge WWDC for all of us, and the things that developers will be able to build on this upgraded and now even more connected ecosystem are limitless. There’s a reason that developers are calling this one of the biggest WWDC Keynotes ever. iOS 8 is going to be amazing because of what developers will be able to build on top of the new features and APIs.
I barely scratched the surface on what Apple unveiled last week, and that’s awesome. It may not be clear now, or on the day that iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite is available to the public, but we will be reaping the benefits on both platforms for years to come.