WWDC recap: What's coming soon to iOS 8 and OS X

Apple's announcements and our analysis of the upcoming OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.

Tim Cook WWDC 2014

For two hours on Monday, Apple presented new products, and we tech journalists and Mac heads have spent the rest of the week obsessively breaking down the pros, cons, and question marks. This year's WWDC was all about software, chiefly OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 and better integration between the two. Both will be out in the fall. In the meantime, pore over the specs and screenshots with us. (And for this week's non-Apple-related news, visit our software week in review.)

Mac OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite
OS X is getting a fresh look, taking design cues from iOS, and will gain lots of functionality, including continuity with iOS devices and iCloud Drive. Here are the highlights:

  • Public beta: If you can't wait for the free update in fall, sign up now to be one of the million people to test the public beta this summer. Extra incentive: Netflix is running HTML5 video in the Yosemite beta.

  • Hardware compatibility: Will your old desktop or laptop run Yosemite? ZDNet has a list of compatible systems.

  • Handoff: This cool feature means that if your Apple devices are within Bluetooth range of each other, you can hand off tasks from one to another. iPhone running out of battery power? Pick up the call on your Mac. Tired of typing that email on your phone's tiny keyboard? Hand off to your iPad.

  • iCloud Drive: iCloud had graduated from backup space to full-fledged cloud service that syncs across Mac, iOS, and Windows. That makes iCloud Drive a competitor to Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and Microsoft OneDrive. It'll be integrated into iOS 8 and Yosemite's Finder, which when combined with tagging and cross-device syncing should improve content access. However, David Carnoy questions whether paying for iCloud will be worth it, given his lousy experience with the current version.

  • Photos: Apple teased a Photos app for 2015 that would take advantage of iCloud Drive, storing photos in the cloud and letting you search, sync, and edit across devices. It sounds promising, but Danny Sullivan thinks that Photos will only work well for all-Mac users and everyone else will still need a better photo storage solution.

  • Spotlight: Lookups in Spotlight will now show info not only from your drive but also from Mail, iTunes, Maps, and the Web.

  • Notification center: You'll be able to see a "today" view, as well as customize widgets from Apple and third-party services. 

  • Mail: Large attachments will automatically upload to Mail Drop, from which recipients can download the file when they wish. 

  • Safari: Apple's Safari browser is getting more speed, a fresh interface, Spotlight search integration, stackable tabs, sharing options, and a Private Mode for browsing without adding cookies or sites to your history. It looks like Safari will show an abbreviated URL, as iOS 7's Safari does.

iOS 8

iOS 8

Apple's OS for iPhones and iPads is not redesigned, but it is getting improved, extended (even into home automation), and made more interoperable with OS X. See CNET's iOS 8 page for the full replay, and find the highlights below. And in case you were wondering, even with all the new features, impatient hackers are already testing whether they can jailbreak iOS 8.

  • Hardware compatibility: Some older devices, including iPhone 4, won't be able to run iOS 8. Scott Stein has educated guesses about what iOS 8's features tell us about Apple's upcoming hardware.

  • iMessage: Apple was keen to plug iMessage, one of its most-used apps, which will finally support features already found in other messaging clients (WhatsApp's CEO had a little Twitter fit over that "borrowing"). These features include group chat, muting, disappearing attachments, and tap to talk.

  • Keyboards: QuickType will offer suggestions as you type, so the days of cursing AutoCorrect may be few. Also, many users were happy to hear iOS will now support third-party keyboards -- SwiftKey says its keyboard is coming soon, and Fleksy already has a keyboard in beta (you can try it if you have the iOS 8 beta).

  • Touch ID: Speaking of third-party apps, they can now use Touch ID, the fingerprint sensor. ZDNet has a roundup of apps that plan to or are likely to take advantage.

  • Notifications: Annoyed that you have to leave your app or sign in to respond to notifications? iOS 8 fixes that, making notifications interactive so you can answer texts, like Facebook posts, dismiss calendar reminders, and so on -- you can even do so from the lock screen.

  • Mail: Similarly, Mail will let you take more actions, like adding a calendar event, without abandoning your message.

  • Siri: Can now be voice-activated by saying, "Hey, Siri." It's also getting voice recognition and Shazam-like music recognition.

  • Photos: The Photos app added a heap of editing tools, and now any change you make on one iOS device will automatically update on any other iOS device you own (next year, that feature will extend to Mac). Apple has beefed up search, sync, and storage -- iCloud will now hold as much as you want, as long as you want (the old policy was 30 days per photo), though you'll have to pay for more than 5GB of storage.

  • Camera APIs: Apple has opened the Camera API to developers, so Lori Grunin thinks we can look forward to better photo quality, not just filters after the fact. The sharp-eyed folks at 9to5Mac also noticed that iOS 8 will let you scan credit cards via the camera, so you won't have to manually enter the numbers to complete a transaction.

  • Health: One health app to rule them all? Apple's forthcoming Health app is meant to be a hub for third-party apps, collecting all your medical and fitness data in one place.

  • HomeKit: If it's not enough to have Apple on your desk, on your lap, and in your pants, then let iOS take over your home. HomeKit will work with a bunch of smart-home products, and you can command the platform through Siri.

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