June is finally upon us, and Apple is ushering-in the month with the start of this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference. The event begins in San Francisco today, and Apple’s kicking things off with its big keynote address.
We start today with news of the company’s OS X Yosemite (which appears to take more than a few design notes from recent iOS revisions) for its computer users, but we came here for mobile news. What of iOS 8?
Well, before we get there (and mixed in with all the PC stuff) Apple’s got some new cloud business to share, introducing iCloud Drive. It syncs across devices like a hard drive in the cloud, and supports Windows devices as well as iOS models.
Apple’s AirDrop only used to support sharing content between iOS devices, but Apple’s expanding that to OS X. Users will be able to send documents they’re working on from their laptops to their iPad, and pick up right where they left off. Or you can go the other way, beginning a draft on your iPhone and finishing it up on your Mac.
This connection between mobile devices and computers extends to new remote hotspot control: with an iPhone in the vicinity, you can use your Mac to flip-on and configure the phone to act as a hotspot, all from the computer itself.
OS X also gets new iMessage SMS support, with your phone relaying messages (and even calls) to your computer. We even get a Dr. Dre call as a demo of feature.
Finally, it’s time for Apple to focus on mobile, and we get what we tuned-in for: Apple introducing iOS 8.
We’ve heard plenty already about rumored iOS 8 features, so let’s get right to confirmation of what’s part of the package. Notifications get an overall, adding interactivity that lets users reply to messages straight away – even from the lockscreen.
The platform’s multitasking view adds a row of recent contacts to complement your recent apps, and Safari for the iPad picks up the new tab look from the browser’s latest OS X incarnation.
Spotlight will give users a cross-medium search experience, letting them for news, places, apps, and music, all from one place (and all without Siri’s help).
The iOS 8 QuickType keyboard will offer users suggestions, monitoring your activity and learning to make smart guesses about the language you’re likely to use.
That iCloud Drive stuff from earlier? iOS 8 sees tight integration, with a pop-up menu to allow easy access to your files from within apps. We take a side track to learn a little about enterprise features before getting to one of iOS 8’s most anticipated areas of focus: health.
Sure enough, Apple introduces us to the leaked HealthKit. It will act as a central hub for health data, collected with the help of third-party apps, and all with strong privacy protections. Healthcare providers will be able to call upon all this stored data when later performing diagnoses. For the moment: no word on an iWatch.
Family Sharing is a new system to facilitate the distribution of media between users sharing an account. It also allows for parental oversight, like giving parents the ability to remotely confirm app store purchases initiated by kids.
Photos introduces Smart Editing, an extended series of controls for enhancing the appearance of your pics, and of course there’s cross-device syncing for such edits.
Siri picks up some new tricks, like new language support and Shazam integration, and Maps turns its attention to China with a ton of country-specific improvements.
On the developer side of things, Apple’s creating new support in the App Store for app bundles, and is letting devs start adding video previews. SDK improvements include some 4000 new APIs, for what Apple calls its biggest change since the introduction of the App Store in the first place.
Apps will be able to offer services to each other – so instead of calling on the system via API, one app may rely on another to provide it services. Each app will be sandboxed individually, but able to communicate with each other through iOS 8.
We finally see the arrival of official third party keyboard support, with the ability to fully replace the default view.
Touch ID gets expanded to bring devs in on the action, allowing them to build fingerprint authentication into their apps while still keeping personally identifying data secure.
Apple introduces HomeKit, its new system for automating the connected home. HomeKit brings new APIs, securely pairs with compatible hardware, and even offers Siri-based voice control.
Metal is a new low-overhead graphics system, designed especially to improve performance on A7-based hardware. Apple claims that Metal will afford devs an order of magnitude increase in visual detail.
We even get a new programming language, as Apple announces Swift, a modern language “without the baggage of C.” It can coexist with existing code and promises to offer tangible speed benefits.
Devs get beta access to iOS 8 beginning today. A public release is scheduled for the fall. Support contniues for most existing hardware, though it looks like the iPhone 4 is getting left behind.
That’s all she wrote for today: no new hardware to speak of.