Apple’s big software push: A look at the bunch of announcements made
At the recent Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple made a bunch of announcements that will change the way you use their devices.
5 Major Upgrades to iOS 9
Split Screen Multitasking – Although this is available on many Android tablets and phones, true multitasking will finally make its way to the iPad. You will be able to run two separate instances of apps side-by-side (50:50 or 70:30) or run video in a smaller window while you do other tasks (similar to the pop-up video player on many Android devices). However, this feature will only be available on the iPad Air 2 — it’s a clear indication that Apple wants you to upgrade those ageing older iPads!
This is a feature similar to Google Now (if you’re familiar with Android). However, the difference is that Apple is more discreet which is a good thing given how many people feel uneasy with Google Now’s uncanny intuition. Proactive doesn’t store anything on the cloud: instead it checks your location and scours through your email & calendar. It can tell you when to leave for a movie or for the airport (based on traffic) and it learns more about you as you go along.
Move to iOS
A new Android app by Apple aims to make it easier for Android users to switch all their data to a new iOS device — this will be implemented on iOS 9 onwards. Users will be able to switch non DRM songs, contacts, SMS, documents, photographs, email accounts and settings using the app.
Free apps that exist on both platforms will be carried over too while apps that you have paid for on Android will be placed in your iOS wishlist (if they have an iOS counterpart, of course). Helpfully, once you are done, the app will also prompt you to recycle your Android device.
This includes a deeper Spotlight search: the native search function built into iOS will soon be able to search through third-party apps too. The advantage is that you can search the entire device (contacts, email, content and apps) from the same place. Next up is a new graphics engine called Metal which bumps up the graphics capabilities. Third: you’ll get smaller OS updates and you can choose when you install them. Fourth, there are improvements to CarPlay (connect phone to supported car stereos wirelessly) and keyboards (iPad specific enhancements). And finally, the OS will suggest apps based on your routine.
The 4 digit passcode on your iOS device will now be 6 digits: this increases the possible number of combinations from 10,000 to 1 million. Obviously, it’ll be a lot harder to crack. In addition, Apple is introducing two-factor authorisation to prevent unauthorised access of your device and Apple ID. So, when you sign in using your Apple ID on a new web browser or device or if you are initiating a new iOS device, you will be prompted for a verification code (the code will be displayed on your other Apple devices — if any — or sent directly to your phone).
iOS 9 will be compatible with the 5th gen iPod Touch, iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6, 6 Plus, iPad 2, 3, 4, Air, Air 2, Mini, Mini 2 and Mini
5 Major Upgrades to OS X
The new version of Apple’s operating system for its computers (Macbook and iMac) is named El Capitan. The name comes from a rock formation in Yosemite National Park (while Yosemite is the name of the previous version of OS X). In usual fashion, it will be available for free this September) while a public beta for the same will be available from July.
The Spotlight search tool gets a major overhaul in this new OS. You can now search for context-specific items on your computer rather than a general search. For instance, you can search for ‘PDF files downloaded in March’ and Spotlight will list all files matching the criteria. In addition, it can also search within additional sources and display results (like the weather and sports scores).
This feature is similar to what we see on Windows 7 & 8. You can position two apps side by side in full screen for improved multitasking. Just drag apps onto each other in Mission Control view and they will snap perfectly to the edges of the display. And as expected, you can even share content between the two running apps seamlessly.
Updated Mission Control
Mission Control now has a more streamlined interface for multitasking. All open apps on your desktop will be arranged in a single layer instead of being stacked — this makes it easy to view all open apps at a glance. If you want to remove a particular app from Mission Control view, drag it up and place it on the new desktop bar.
According to Apple, ElCapitan is fine-tuned for improved performance with existing hardware. The claimed performance improvements include up to 1.4x faster app launches, 2x faster app switching and 4x faster PDF file opening in preview app.
Metal, the gaming engine introduced for iOS, will be coming to the desktop with OS X El Capitan. The graphics technology lets apps access the graphics card directly. This will enable better gaming performance with richer graphics & more efficient rendering delivering up to 10 times the performance.
APPLE WATCH UPGRADES
Apple was late to the smartwatch game and early adopters have been complaining about missing features visa-vis the competition. The biggest change with watchOS 2 is that Apple Watch can now get standalone apps (instead of partner apps that need to be tethered to the ‘main’ app on the iPhone). Probably one of the most requested features is the ability to create your own watch faces (using your own photos if you like) – a feature that has been present on competing Android and Tizen smartwatches. With other platforms, you can also get third-party watch face creators but it’s not clear whether Apple will allow that (probably not).
The Watch will get the ability to connect directly to a known WiFi hotspot and finally, much better integration options for third-party apps. For instance, third-party app developers will now be able to access the watch microphone, use the watch speaker, use the digital crown, play short videos on the screen and create complications (tiny widgets that can be placed on a watch face). In short, it means that Watch apps will get a lot better very soon. The update will be free and will be available late this year.
This service will integrate an existing iTunes library with millions of songs on the cloud — and you’ll be able to access them all for a flat monthly fee (US$9.99 has been announced for a single membership and US$14.99 for a family membership for up to six devices). Apple will offer a free three month trial starting 30th June. Benefits include automatic syncing across all your devices, intelligent suggestions and music discovery, curated playlists and unlimited iCloud storage for music when you sign up for Apple Music. Lastly, the new radio station, Beats 1, will offer a live radio broadcast of the latest music from studios in LA, NYC and London. It will work on MACs, Windows PCs and iOS devices.
Newsstand will give way to News as part of iOS 9: a Flipboard-styled news aggregation service with large visuals and curatedcustomisable content that learns from your kind of use. As is usual with many news aggregation services, you can either follow a topic or a publication directly. Apple has already tied up with 20 major publishers and the content will include inline photos, videos, animations and other multimedia without any clutter. The Apple developed ‘Apple News Format’ is a digital publishing format that any publisher can use to create beautiful content along the same lines. It will only be available in the US, UK and Australia at launch — other countries will follow later.