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These are the announcements that got the crowd excited at WWDC 2014.
Apple's WWDC event yesterday was chock full of impressive new features that will please both developers and end users alike. In short, Apple's innovative spirit appears stronger than ever and there is a lot to look forward to come this fall. With tons of new announcements regarding iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, here is a list of some the coolest features Apple introduced yesterday.
The new iOS 8 keyboard comes with smart word predictions that are context-aware with respect to both the conversation and the recipient. If you're the type of person who types "that's insanely epic" to your old college buddies, that suggestion won't present itself when you're chatting with your boss. Apple execs noted that the feature "learns your word patterns" and comes with support for 14 languages.
With the new Messages app in iOS 8, users can now easily send short audio and video messages from within the app. Further, the Messages app now supports the ability to leave group texts and seamlessly share your location with conversation partners.
Siri in iOS 8 now has Shazam support built directly into the app, along with dictation support for 22 new languages. On top of that, you can enable Siri to always be "listening" and ready to spring into action simply by lifting your iPhone and saying "Hey Siri." It's sort of like "Ok Glass," but more natural.
SMS on OS X
Users on OS X Yosemite can now receive text messages from non-iPhone users to the Messages app on their computer (provided that their iPhone is nearby). This is a very welcome feature that elicited huge cheers from the WWDC crowd.
App Store improvements
The new App Store makes the entire app purchasing experience more efficient and pleasurable. In addition to trending searches, related searches, and scrolling search results, the enhanced App Store now provides developers with the ability to sell users app bundles, letting consumers buy multiple apps at a discounted price.
In iOS 8, notifications have been given more functionality that is actionable from the notification pane itself. For instance, if you receive a Facebook notification, you can "like" it without having to leave the app you're currently in. As another example, you can now respond to a Messages alert from within the notification itself, without having to move to the Messages app.
This is a great new email feature in OS X Yosemite that, quite simply, lets users mark up - or doodle if you will - on top of inline mail messages. This feature, as just one example, will make signing PDF documents from within Mail easier than ever.
Phone calls via OS X
Using the iPhone as a conduit, users on OS X Yosemite will be able to receive and make phone calls. Translation? No more looking up a number on the web and then having to take out your phone to dial. This is going to be a huge win for efficiency and usability.
Apple is making it easier than ever to send large attachments when recipient mail servers have file size limits. With Mail Drop, large attachments that are too big are automatically encrypted and uploaded to iCloud, where the mail recipient can then download the file via an iCloud link. Impressively, Mail Drop can handle file sizes as large as 5GB.
The new multitasking pane in iOS 8 now lists your most favorite and recent contacts. Another score for efficiency and usability.
Watch out Dropbox, Apple is fast approaching in the rear-view mirror. With iCloud Drive, all of a user's iCloud documents will be accessible via a tab in the finder, across all Mac devices. Seamless and easy, and exactly what it should have been from the beginning.
Healthkit provides a framework for tracking health and fitness data. As such, it ties into third-party medical accessories and provides a central hub from which users can monitor their health vitals. Apple said it's partnering with hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic for the feature, enabling doctors to keep tabs on patients' status in real time if need be. Healthkit naturally comes with a corresponding "Health" app.
Spotlight in OS X has been given an exciting makeover. It has a more prominent place at the center of the screen and can search the web, mapping locations, and even local documents with inline previews. Spotlight has traditionally been ho-hum on OS X, but the upcoming version will really make the feature much more worthwhile.
If you happen to be on a Mac without access to the web and your iPhone happens to be nearby, Instant Hotspot will allow you to seamlessly set up a Wi-Fi hotspot using your iPhone's cellular connection.
HomeKit is another new framework that will enable iOS users to control home peripherals directly from their iPhone or iPad. The framework will allow users to control locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats and more via secured pairing. Impressively, the framework will enable users to group devices together into a "Scene" and issue controls via Siri.
This lets families set up their own "family network," so to speak. Among other features, it can send alerts to parents when their children are making questionable purchases via the App Store. The feature also lets users within a family sharing network keep tabs, if they so choose, on where other family members are located.
Dark Mode in OS X
Another long-awaited feature. OS X Yosemite now comes with a Dark Mode for users who find it easier to work more efficiently that way.
Desktop Safari has been updated with a simplified tool bar, allowing more space for content. It's also easier to subscribe to RSS feeds and share links with friends via a variety of social networking sites. The revamped Safari also has some clever ways to view opened tabs concurrently. And of course, the new Safari has faster performance across the board.
App Store previews
This one has been a long time coming. At last, all developers can make short video previews of their apps in order to showcase compelling features and help users make more informed purchasing decisions.
Apple unveiled a new programming language dubbed "Swift" yesterday. This also elicited an overwhelmingly positive response from developers. Swift can co-exist alongside Objective C and is a high-level programming language that has iOS developers very excited. By all accounts, Swift appears to be more welcoming than Objective C, an important tidbit given that keeping developers on board the iOS bandwagon is extremely important.
With Handoff, sharing files between iOS and OS X is easier than ever as devices in close proximity to one another are aware of what other devices are up to. So if you're writing an email on your Mac, for example, your iPad knows what’s going on and will let you pick up right where you left off the moment you pick up your tablet. Naturally, it works in the other direction as well and also supports shared web viewing.
Third-party keyboard support on iOS
iOS 8 finally supports third-party keyboards. If you're not a fan of what iOS 8 provides for a keyboard out of the box, you can pick your own. Finally.
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