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After the announcement of the long-awaited, redesigned Mac Pro at last year's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), this year's keynote may have seem a bit lackluster to some. With no mention of any new hardware (sorry Mac mini or iPhone 6 hopefuls), Apple did share improvements to its software. Announcing new versions of Mac OS X and iOS operating systems, as well as a variety of apps for the health-conscious and home automation, Apple focused on enhancing the user experience.
Apple deviated from naming its Mac OS X operating system after large felines last year, with Mavericks. The company has decided to switch again, to locales in California. While Apple's spokespeople opened with jokes about naming Mac OS X 10.10 as OS X Oxnard or OS X Rancho Cucamonga, the company decided to settle on Mac OS X Yosemite.
The first thing you'll notice about Mac OS X Yosemite is its design. While it is not a huge change from Mac OS X Mavericks, the icons appear "flat," which is very reminiscent of iOS.
Adding translucency to certain interface elements provides greater emphasis on your content. Translucent toolbars allows you to see more than what's visible in the window you're scrolling. A translucent sidebar lets you see what's hidden behind the active window, so the interface takes on the look of your desktop image and your content. Apple also streamlined toolbars to save space, but they still maintain their capabilities. You'll see these changes in Safari, Maps, Calendar, and more. The Dock was also redesigned. With its simplified look, the icons provide a more consistent look and feel to their iOS counterparts.
In OS X Yosemite, fonts have been refined to be more legible and consistent. The new typeface app in windows, menu bars, and throughout the system ensures your text looks clear and crisp, even on the Retina Display.
The Notification Center incorporates the "Today" feature from iOS, and provides you quick access to the Calendar, Reminders, Weather, Stocks, World Clock, Calculator, and more. You can also customize what you see by adding more widgets from the Mac App Store. You can access the Notification Center with just a swipe, even when you're working in full screen.
Spotlight was also redesigned, appearing front and center when you open it. It allows you to look up information from sources like Wikipedia, news, Maps, movies, and more. It also provides interactive previews of your results.
Mail also received improvements. With the new Markup feature, you'll be able to annotate an attachment you receive and send it back, without leaving the Mail app. Add shapes, text, and callouts to images by drawing on the multi-touch trackpad. Fill out forms or PDFs, as well as add your signature by signing with your finger or capturing it with the camera on your Mac. A new feature called Mail Drop also lets you bypass the email attachment limitations and send large files of up to 5GB per message. You'll need to be signed into iCloud in order to send large files, such as videos, presentations, and photo folders. If your recipient uses Mail as well, they'll receive the attachment as it appears. If that person uses a different mail service, they'll receive a link to download it.
Messages now combine all SMS and MMS messages you receive on your iPhone with your Mac. This means you can text your friends on your Mac when your iPhone is nearby. All of your messages will stay up to date across all your Apple devices. If your message is too long to type out, you can leave a Soundbite by recording your voice and sending it directly from Messages. You can give your group chats a title to keep track of who and what it's about. You can also add friends to already existing group chats, as well as excuse yourself from one after you're done.
Finder adopts iCloud Drive into its window. iCloud Drive works just like a regular folder in Finder, allowing you to drag and drop files. They're always available and changes you make offline are synced the next time you're connected to the Internet. You can also tag folders within the iCloud Drive and rearrange them at your preference. AirDrop also makes it easy to share between Mac and iOS devices.
Developers will have instant access to Mac OS X Yosemite, while consumers will see the full retail version in Fall 2014, for free. There is also a beta program for a select few for which you can sign up on Apple's website.
iOS 8 provides several updates to iOS 7. While its design is relatively the same, its functionality has improved. With new health and fitness apps as well as better integration with Mac computers, iOS 8 provides an improved user experience.
Photos provides smart composition tools of image editing and provides access to the iCloud Photo Library. iOS 8 also introduces new options in shortcuts. Tap the Home button twice to see the multitasking interface where you'll find access to your favorite and recent contacts.
The added QuickType feature in iOS 8 learns how you type, providing a set of choice words and phrases you use most often. This allows you to type faster and more accurately. The predictive text will be optimized in 14 languages. Also, Apple has decided to allow third-party keyboards to be used if the QuickType keyboard doesn't work out for you.
Family Sharing allows up to six people in your family to share purchases from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store, so you don't have to make multiple copies. You can link all six family members with a single credit card. Put an end to the horror stories you hear about kids purchasing hundreds of dollars of in-game purchases by accident, since Family Sharing requires kids to have parental approval when they want to purchase something. You can also share photos and a family calendar so everyone knows what everyone else is doing.
iOS 8 pushes for a more corporate presence with Enterprise. With improved security and more productivity features, Apple is out to prove that it can be a major player in the business world.
iOS 8 will be available in Fall 2014.
Mac OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 improve the interactions between Mac and iOS devices for a more unified experience. In fact, with OS X Yosemite, your Mac will be able to make and receive iPhone calls. When your iPhone rings, you'll get a notification on your Mac showing you the caller's name, number, and profile picture. You can use the built-in mic on your Mac to answer, and in combination with the integrated speakers as a speakerphone. You also have an option to decline the call or respond with a quick iMessage. You can also make a call through Contacts, Calendar, Messages, or Safari. In order for this feature to work, both your Mac and iPhone will have to be on the same Wi-Fi network.
Handoff is a new feature introduced with OS X Yosemite, which allows Mac and iOS devices to automatically pass information to each other when they're in the same immediate vicinity. Start an email on your Mac and finish it on your iPad. Browse the Web on your iPhone and continue on your Mac. Handoff works with Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts. App developers will also have a chance to incorporate Handoff into their apps as well.
If you don't have Wi-Fi access for your Mac, you'll still be able to connect to the Internet with Instant Hotspot. Your Mac will automatically use the personal hotspot on your iPhone when they're within range of each other. Your iPhone will automatically appear in the Wi-Fi menu of your Mac. You'll just have to make your iPhone hotspot is activated and you will also have to make sure your data plan supports wireless hotspots.
With the rising popularity of health and fitness apps, Apple has decided to jump on the bandwagon. Introducing their new Health app, Apple provided a user-friendly interface to view your personal health and fitness data.
Heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar, and cholesterol data will be collected by your health and fitness apps. The Health app puts all that data in one place and gives you a clear overview of your health. You can even create an emergency card with important health information, such as listing your blood type or allergies, which will appear on your Lock screen.
With HealthKit, developers can make their apps useful to you if you allow them access to your health data. You can choose what to share. For example, you can allow the data from your blood pressure app to be automatically shared with your doctor or allow your nutrition app to tell your fitness apps how many calories you consume each day.
Apple provides developers with useful tools for better Mac and iOS development. SpriteKit uses sprites, which are the individual two-dimensional characters and animations that make up the graphical elements of casual 2D games. The enhanced SpriteKit enables developers to create battery-efficient, graphically rich, and fluidly animated games. SceneKit allows game developers to provide immersive 3D animated scenes with 3D effects and natural motion in a particle system with physics capabilities and more. The SDK is for iOS developers and it includes 4,000 new APIs to enable enhanced features and capabilities.
While Apple's introduction of Mac OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 are intriguing and innovative, regular consumers will have to wait until Fall 2014 to gain access to the full retail versions. B&H will keep you posted on any updates during the long wait.