I’ve long given up on reading and being interested in Apple rumors. I rather wait for Apple’s official announcements and keynotes when they unveil all the goodies with specific launch dates. The rumor sites got this WWDC 2014 mostly wrong because apart from the HealthKit, which was a minor feature, they missed most of the awesome features. Perhaps because it is easier to keep software development that happens in Cupertino under wraps than hardware whose supply chain reaches as far as China.
Anyway, this is in no way an overview of the changes in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 because there are dedicated blogs that do that for a living. And yeah, yeah, lots of these features were available in Android before. I’m just listing some changes or features that are great from my perspective.
OS X Yosemite
Continuity, continuity, continuity – the most exciting feature for average and pro users alike. Your iPhone, iPad, and Mac will now effortlessly talk to each other. You can start writing an email on your phone and continue where you left off on the Mac. Best of all, you can take your phone calls on the Mac and use its speakers/earphones to talk. Similarly, you can make phone calls using your Mac if your phone is nearby.
iCloud Drive – Apple seems to have given up on its efforts to create a space for documents and files without the file-folder hierarchy. Earlier you could open a document only in the app you created it in. Now, iCloud Drive is basically like Dropbox where you can save any kind of document and open it with any application that has access to it. You get 5GB free and can pay $3.99 per month for 200GB. That’s Google-level pricing  Of course, iCloud Drive is a OS X and iOS feature.
A New Look – Following the UI overhaul for iOS last year, OS X also got a major UI revamp. Overall, it looks nice but unless I get to use it  The default font is now Helvetica, a distinct change from Lucida Grande.
Spotlight – The nifty spotlight feature get placed center stage, like the Alfred app. Now you can quickly launch apps, do searches and “view rich suggestions from Wikipedia, Maps, Bing, App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks Store, top websites, news and movie showtimes.” I use Alfred to do quick calculations and since Spotlight does it too right now, the center placement will make me use Spotlight more often.
Mail and Safari – I’m one of the Mac users who relies on the default Mail app (for work/exchange emails) and Safari app for my Internet browsing needs. I have Chrome and Firefox too but I use them for specific purposes . Most changes are improvements and bug fixes along with nifty features like birds-eye grid view for tabs. I had wished for pinned tabs but guess Apple wants you to scroll thru tabs instead of pinning them. As they joke, Safari always seems snappier after every update so I hope that’s true this time too. DuckDuckGo as a built-in default search engine is interesting and perhaps worth a try for privacy sake. Previous extensions to make it so weren’t really good. I don’t enable saving my Google Search history anyway and don’t use Google Now either so apart from sheer quality of search results, it may not be different.
Family Sharing – “Family Sharing accounts will get access to purchases made by a family member without having to log into iTunes with the same Apple ID; the same credit card will still be used, but each family member will keep their own Apple ID and won’t have to switch to another account to redownload purchased items for free [MacStories]” This is awesome on so many levels. Ash and I have two different iTunes accounts since our app needs are different. But this feature will let us share some apps that we both love. Perhaps this is the nudge she needed to hop on the 1Password bandwagon.
Touch ID APIs for apps – This change will let developers of third-party apps to use Touch ID as authentication. No longer do we have to tap in 4-digit pass codes in Mint and Betterment and the long master password for 1Password. All you do is hold your finger on the home button and you’re in. Touch ID is one device feature I’m glad Apple implemented and in typical Apple-style, it works smoothly and is something that I can no longer live without on my phone.
App Extensions – This may be the most Android-like feature but it comes with the Apple-backed guarantee of working seamlessly. Basically, it is the ability to use one app’s features within another and customization of the notifications screen with widgets you want. I’m not much of a widgets guy since I keep the apps I frequently use on my home screen but the inter-app compatibility sounds useful.
App Battery Shaming – Although this wasn’t demonstrated on stage, iOS will finally list apps by the degree in which they are consuming battery power. Unless we see a leapfrog development in battery technology, conserving battery is the top priority for all smartphone users.
Homekit – This is a feature that will not see its full potential unless devices and developers tap into it. HomeKit will offer a common network protocol to let iOS apps control compatible locks, lights, cameras, plugs, switches, and more. So now all we have to do is to make all our household devices compatible to the iPhone.
Third-party keyboards – I have heard how third-party keyboards like Swype, Swiftkey, etc. are great on Android. I don’t know how useful they will be until I use them. So I’m just curious at this point.
So it promises to be an exciting fall when both these operating systems come to the devices near you. Hopefully, developers will get going on developing some cool features and even new apps based on slightly-more open Apple.
- I’m paying $1.99 per month currently for Google Drive for 100GB. I primarily use it to manually backup my RAW photos and Lightroom catalog. [↩]
- Technically, I download a now-available-for-public beta and give it a shot but I don’t have a spare Mac that I can experiment on. My primary one belongs to my employer and my personal one is late-2008 so I doubt it will be the best test machine. [↩]
- Firefox is specific to my work-related web data system and Chrome for things that sometimes don’t work in Safari [↩]