5 Biggest Takeaways From Apple's WWDC 2014 Keynote - Technologist
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5 Biggest Takeaways From Apple's WWDC 2014 Keynote

Despite the name, Apple's annual World Wide Developer's Conference isn't just for developers and Apple staff, it's one of Apple's biggest events of the year for discussing the latest and greatest products and software. Alas, don't get your hopes up for new iPhones or iPads -- those typically get their own events in the fall.

Today is all about the operating system software, with major changes in store for both the desktop/laptop OS X and the mobile iOS. We apologize in advance for the lengthy post.

5. OS X Yosemite

The changes here are huge, starting with a complete visual overhaul that makes the desktop OS much more iOS 7-like (flat design, smoother and thinner fonts, lots of white and translucent effects throughout). Or, if you prefer less brightness, there's now a "dark" mode with light text on dark panels.

Safari is basically a new browser, with a unified search and address bar, almost no buttons, and big claims of performance tweaks that will increase your browsing speed and more importantly, your Macbook's battery life. There's also a bird's eye view of all open tabs (similar to Mission Control's preview of all open desktop applications).

The best part? OS X Yosemite will be part of the company's new public beta program, which means us adventurous types can test it now instead of waiting for an official release.

4. iOS 8

The changes to Apple's mobile OS aren't as drastic, though they are still handy. A few of the tweaks include:

  • Quicktype adds predictive text suggestions (much like Android) to Apple's keyboard.
    • Or, if you hate Apple's keyboard, there is FINALLY third-party keyboard support. SWYPE IS ON iOS. (Apple has finally relented and caught up to Android and Windows Phone 8.1!)

  • Messages got a massive bump, with beefed-up group messaging, optional location sharing, and iCloud integration when you send a photo or voice recording.
  • Healthkit is a new feature that aggregates your weight, exercise, medication, and other medical information and can share the data across fitness apps, or in one demo, with your doctor when you have an abnormal blood pressure reading.
  • Reply to messages or "like" things on Facebook from the notification center itself, rather than opening the app.
  • More "widgets" in the notification area, such as an eBay widget that allows you to bid from the notification.
  • In the multitasking pane (the double tab on the home button feature), your favorite contacts are listed at the top for quick access.
  • Spotlight, like the desktop, is beefed up. Mobile-specific features include searching the news, the app store, etc. instead of just the phone itself.
  • Mail got a few long-awaited upgrades, like suggestions for calendar appointments from the text of an email.
  • Touch ID (the iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor) can now protect third-party logins as well. (Horray for fewer passwords!)
  • Family-wide sharing of purchased apps on up to six devices (linked to a common credit card). Kids an "ask" their parents to download an app, which pops up a notification on the parent's phone.

3. Spotlight Is Finally Important

When I got my first Mac, one of the universal suggestions was to replace Spotlight with a third-party app called Alfred. The general consensus was that Spotlight's universal search function was too limited feature-wise.

On both mobile and desktop devices, the new Spotlight is integrated into everything -- Calendar, mail, the OS itself. Plus, Apple added an Ubuntu Linux-like web search next to search results from your device. It also appears in the middle of the screen, instead of hiding away in the corner.

2. iCloud is Now Dropbox-like

Apple hasn't had a great record with cloud services, and its existing solution, iCloud was extremely limited compared to others -- it'd sync some things (photos, calendar, etc.) but it wasn't a true cloud storage drive, like DropBox, OneDrive or Box. It is now, and it'll even be compatible with Windows machines. It'll also allow you to send large email attachments, up to 5 GB, using your iCloud drive and the built-in Mail app.

Storage prices are:

  • 5GB free;
  • 20GB $0.99 per month;
  • 200GB $3.99 per month.

1. Continuity

For those who own an iPhone or iPad and a Macbook or iMac, this will be the biggest and most welcome change. Apple devices are great, but they operate separately -- write a document on one device before saving it and manually opening it on another, some of your texts and Messages sync while others (with Android users) don't, etc.

It's hard to describe everything that Continuity is within a reasonable amount of words, but now, more than ever, your devices are connected. Your Macbook senses your iPhone, and prompts you to tether your Internet connection on the go. Phone call coming in? You can answer it on the Mac or the phone. See a phone number on a webpage? Right click it and your phone will call it. Start an email on your phone, then hit a button on your Mac to type it using a real keyboard.

To be fair, we've seen a lot of these features before -- Google Voice plugins and the Gmail inbox for the calling features specifically -- but Apple has built them into the OS itself, which should make things a lot less wonky than relying upon third-party apps and plugins.

What feature are you most excited about? Tweet us @FindLawLP.

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