Apple's Mac operating system is getting a new design and better ways to exchange files, while new features in the software for iPhones and iPads include one for keeping tabs on your health.
Apple executive Craig Federighi pointed out that data from various fitness-related devices now live in silos, so you can't get a comprehensive picture of your health. That will change, he says, with HealthKit coming to the new mobile software, iOS 8. Apple is also working with the Mayo Clinic to make sure your weight, calorie intake and other health metrics are within healthy ranges.
Apple is also making it easier for various devices to work together. You can share songs, movies and books you purchase with your entire family. Macs and mobile gadgets will share more features, and you can share and sync files between the two more easily.
The company is previewing the new features at its 25th annual conference for software developers in San Francisco. Here are the highlights on what's been announced and what's coming:
Changes to the Mac operating system, OS X
- The next Mac operating system will be named Yosemite, after the national park.
- Yosemite will have a translucent design. The notification centre will use that design, for instance, to give you an advance look at your calendar, weather and other information.
- You'll be able to search for content on the computer and on the internet at once, similar to a feature that came with Microsoft's Windows 8.1 system.
- Apple is expanding its iCloud storage service so that you can store and sync files of any type, not just the ones designed specifically for iCloud. It's similar to how services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft's OneDrive let you work with the same files on multiple devices more easily.
- A Mail Drop feature will make it easier to send large files. Instead of pushing the entire file by email and overloading mail servers, the Mac will create a link that the recipient can click for the full file.
- The Mac's Safari web browser will have more privacy controls and ways to share links more easily.
- The free Mac update will be out this fall. A version is available for developers Monday. This summer, Apple will also make a test version available to selected customers who aren't developers.
Changes for iPhones, iPads
- Like the new Mac OS, the iOS 8 system will have a universal search tool to cover both files on your device and content on the internet. It will also get the iCloud Drive service.
- A "quick type" feature promises predictive typing suggestions. For example, if you start typing, "Do you want to go to," the phone will suggest "dinner" or "movie" as the next word. Currently, the suggestions are limited to spelling corrections.
- A "do not disturb" feature will make it easier to stop notifications on a conversation with just a swipe, while a "tap to talk" feature records and sends audio messages to a recipient so you don't have to type.
- IOS 8 will have a built-in health-management tool to help people track their vital signs, diet and sleeping habits. Apple's chief rival, Samsung Electronics Co., incorporated fitness-related features in its latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S5.
- Apple announced new technology for controlling garage doors, thermostats and other home systems, although the company didn't say how all the pieces will be linked together through what it calls HomeKit.
- The new software will likely come with new devices for the holiday season, with free updates available for recent models.
- Apple will also let app developers sell bundles at discounted prices.
- The fingerprint security system on the iPhone 5s will be accessible to apps written by outside parties. Previously, it was limited to Apple functions, such as unlocking the phone and verifying iTunes purchases.
- Although the Mac and iOS systems are separate, Apple CEO Tim Cook says the two have been engineered to work seamlessly together.
- Apple's AirDrop feature, which has let you share files with other devices of the same type, will now let iPhones and Macs share directly with each other.
- A new "handoff" feature will let you switch devices more easily, so you can start writing an email on a phone and finish on a Mac. And when a call comes in on your iPhone, you can get caller ID information on your Mac.
- The iMessage chat service will now let you communicate with devices that aren't running iOS, such as those running the rival Android system from Google.