A recap of Apple’s WWDC keynote

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Apple’s 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) has been and gone for the year, so what has the technology giant got in the pipeline for consumers and developers?

The biggest news came fromthe operating system front. Not only did Apple unveil its new and improved iOS 8 for mobiles, but it also lifted the lid on its Mac OS X 10.10, which is titled Yosemite.

iOS 8 will be released this autumnand comes with a host of new, or improved, features. One of the more immediately obvious changes is the way that notifications are handled. Apple has coined the term “interactive notifications,” which allow users to pull down from a notification and reply instantly without leaving the app or screen that they are using.

With Messages being one of the most frequently used apps on iOS, it was only natural that it would get a revamp. Users are being given more control over their experience with the ability to name threads, add and remove group message users, and even leave overly busy group message threads. If desired, users can share their location with others and quick audio and video messages are now supported.

Apple will also play nice with others with the release of iOS 8. If the default keyboard isn’t to your liking, third-party apps such as SwiftKey and Swype, will be supported for the first time. However, Apple is hoping that users will appreciate the new QuickType keyboard, which utilises predictive text, but also works out how you type to different people. So, users will get different suggestions based on the context of the message and who they are writing to.

Monitoring health and fitness is a growing concern for smartphone users, and Apple’s HealthKit hub will enable users to monitor important health metrics on a daily basis and examine trends over a longer period of time. This will also support third party apps, including those from Mayo Clinic and Nike.

From a developer’s standpoint, iOS 8 will see the introduction of a new programming language called Swift. Apple described it as the future of development across iOS and OS X, but developers will be able to keep working on their existing apps, as Swift code can live side-by-side with C and Objective-C code in the same app for the time being.

Smarthomes could be a thing of the present as Apple’s HomeKit will enable iPhones to start controlling smart devices, such as door openers, lights and security cameras. Siri can be used to great effect as one simple command can be used to automatically dim lights and lock doors at the same time. Apple is partnering with companies such as August, Honeywell, iHome, and TI initially.

Mac users will also be delighted to hear that a wealth of improvements are coming their way when OS X 10.10 launches later this year.

One of the more intriguing updates is that users will be able to carry over their experience from one device to another. If you’re working on your Mac, you can “hand-off” to your iPhone or iPad and continue working. E-mails started on a phone will be available to finish on a Mac, while iWork documents can be started in iWork and your iPad will suggest that you can finish it on it if you’ve moved from your laptop. After popular demand, users will soon be able to share files between mobile devices and Macs using AirDrop.

If all that wasn’t enough, Yosemite’s iMessage app includes SMS messages as well as the texts sent through Apple’s service, and you can even send and receive phone calls from your Mac. Few of us will be chatting to Dr Dre as Apple software chief Craig Federighi did at the keynote.

Spotlight may have gone without a proper update in a while, but Yosemite changes all that with a launcher meets search field. Spotlight enables users to launch apps quickly by typing the first few letters, search and preview local documents, and even browse Wikipedia, Apple Maps or contacts. Meanwhile, Spotlight Suggestions will offer auto-complete guesses at what you may be searching for, which may come in handy as a time-saver.

Safari received a few minor tweaks such as a slimmer menu bar, the removal of the favourites bar, a Share button that resembles the one found on iOS, and Tab View, which gives an overview of all open tabs.

Like iOS, OS X 10.10’s notifications system has been enhanced. A “Today” view has been added so that users can keep track of upcoming events, reminders, and the weather. The Notification Centre can be customised with a range of third-party apps and widgets.

Apple also unveiled that OS X 10.10 will be given a visual redesign that brings it more in line with its iOS counterpart. It is visually clean with a flat design and translucent panels, giving it a much more modern look overall.

With a runtime of over an hour and a half, the WWDC keynote isn’t for everyone. Thankfully, musician Jonathan Mann put together a delightful, and incredibly catchy, ditty that sums up some of the highlights of the show.

In Short: Apple unveiled two new operating systems at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote, iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

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Posts from the Harvey Norman blog team.

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