Worldwide Developers Conference 2014

At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) today, Apple announced new features of its upcoming mobile and desktop operating systems.

Both OS X and iOS will have new versions available for free to consumers this fall. The two operating systems will share more functionality and offer more customization options to developers.

On the Desktop: Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite

Having already moved away from big cats for naming their desktop operating system versions, Apple went with a national park name for version 10.10: Yosemite. While registered developers can already download it, anyone else with a compatible Mac can sign up for the beta program.

Among the most interesting new features are:

  • Handoff. Tasks started on the iPhone or iPad can be resumed on a Mac – or vice versa.

  • Continuity. Yosemite can act as a wireless speakerphone for your iPhone as well as an SMS interface.

  • iCloud Drive. Like similar cloud storage services Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, and literally dozens of others, iCloud now supports storing any kind of file online.

  • Spotlight. This venerable feature of OS X gets more powerful, with a large search bar that pops up in the middle of the screen, instant previews of documents it finds, and Wikipedia and Bing integration.

On Mobile: iOS 8

Apple’s iPhone and iPad operating system doesn’t get exciting names. But big changes in the iOS 8 software development kit (SDK) will allow developers to make apps with much more expansive capabilities.

  • Touch-Free Siri. Some Android handsets are always listening for commands. In iOS 8, Apple’s Siri will respond to the user saying, “Hey, Siri.”

  • Notifications. Users will be able to reply and take other actions right within Notifications, without opening the accompanying app.

  • Keyboards. Aside from improving its own keyboard, Apple is now allowing third-party keyboard apps, something Android users have enjoyed for a while.

  • Extensions. In fact, keyboards are just one kind of Extension giving developers more access to the internal workings of iOS devices.  More than 4,000 new APIs allow apps to plug into the Photos app, customize the Action button, and use fingerprint scanner.

  • HomeKit. This API unifies functions from different home automation vendors, so users can control lights, temperature, door locks, and other connected hardware from a single panel or Siri.

  • HealthKit. Fitness and health apps can share information with each other.

  • Metal. This lightweight framework makes more immersive games and graphical apps possible.

  • Swift. A new programming langage that plays well with the one iOS developers have been using for years, Objective-C, while cutting down on programming time.

Developers can also take advantage of new iTunes features, like app bundles for discounting multiple-app purchases, app preview videos, and TestFlight for recruiting beta testers.

The new features of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 will make it a great opportunity for app creators to get into the game. What possibilities for new apps can you dream up?

Tags: mac os x yosemite, ios 8 features, operating system for mac, ios 8 sdk, mac os x features