Yesterday’s keynote at Apple’s WWCD was one of the most interesting I can recall. It’s been a long time since there have been so many new features unveiled for one operating system, let alone two. It was clearly the most impressive keynote, as far as software is concerned, in many years.
To begin with, we got the skinny on OS X 10.10 Yosemite. With a sleeker designer, redolent of iOS 7, yet not too iOSified, Yosemite looks like a fairly large change in approach. While Apple demoed things such as Safari (a much cleaner look), Spotlight (the first real update to that feature in years), and Mail (who wants to “mark up” their emails?), the real takeaway to me was iCloud Drive. iCloud will finally be able to store ad hoc files, and it will be a bridge between OS X and iOS. This may be the first step in making iCloud the new filesystem.
There were some cool new features, such as Handoff (stop working on something on one device, pick it up on another), and the ability to link your iPhone to your Mac, to make and take phone calls. Messages lets you send voice messages, and AirDrop finally works between OS X and iOS.
What I felt watching the presentation of Yosemite yesterday was that Apple is making OS X for iOS users; to try and get more Mac purchasers among the hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users, showing them how they can work seamlessly between the two devices.
As for iOS – why doesn’t iOS get a name, and not just a number – the most useful user feature for me is predictive typing. This isn’t new; my cheap Android phone has it, but it’s about time that Apple brought it in. Family Sharing is a nice way to sort-of-merge iTunes accounts. And the Health app, and HealthKit, looks promising, but it will take a while to see how that works in practice.
But the biggest news about iOS is under the hood. Extensibility, the ability for apps to share “extensions,” is a huge innovation, and will allow deep interoperability among apps. Again, we’ll need to wait and see how this translates into real-world use, but it already looks as though apps such as TextExpander will be able to integrate into, say, text editors, and 1Password might be able to sit inside Safari.
Apple didn’t announce any hardware yesterday, focusing entirely on new features in its OSes. Tim Cook only spent a few minutes on stage, and didn’t even tout retail numbers, or show off new Apple stores. It was all about the software, and the new features that were shown yesterday will change the way we user our Macs and iOS devices.