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[June 08, 2014]
Apple focuses on little things at WWDC [St. Joseph News-Press, Mo. :: ]
(St. Joseph News-Press (MO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 08--Apple held its yearly Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) June 2 through 6 in San Francisco, and while the event largely served as a vast, advanced discussion of software development, it also gave the tech giant an opportunity to announce what it will bring its loyal customers in the future.
For decades, the WWDC has been a space where new ideas were born, and Apple introduced game-changing products such as the Mac Pro and the iPhone 4. This year, however, software was in the spotlight as Apple introduced its new mobile and desktop operating systems.
"(We) focused on clarity as well as utility," Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, told developers at the conference.
While Apple didn't unveil any "big things" at the event, critics widely agree that the company did create and improve upon lots of little, functional things.
"Anyone hoping to hear news about much-rumored devices such as Apple's 'iWatch,' new iPhones, or a 'connected television' will have to wait a bit longer," says Cnet.com news editor Charles Cooper. "Still, it was an impressive demonstration of technology muscle-flexing as Apple made a strong case that it understands how to integrate consumer software and technology devices better than its chief competitors." Here are some useful tidbits from the WWDC: --Apple taught Siri some new lessons. Siri can now identify any song within earshot, turn on and off your lights or adjust your thermostat. In fact, you can now call on Siri without even touching your phone. Just say the words "Hey, Siri" and she'll appear automatically.
--Messages is the most-used app on Apple's mobile devices, and it's getting a big update in iOS 8. The app will now support quick audio and video messages, self-destructing messages, temporary location sharing and a few other new features. iPhone users also will have the ability to remove people, including themselves, from busy, often annoying group-message threads.
--Apple's new predictive keyboard now will give better auto-complete suggestions when users text or type on their mobile devices, giving users a choice of several words and phrases based on the context of the text as well as on the user's typing history. The new feature, called QuickType, can even answer questions.
--A major addition to iOS 8 is HealthKit, a new health app that will track footsteps, heart rate and sleep activity for consolidating health related data. The company will work in tandem with Nike, a major player in fitness tracking, and the Mayo Clinic on the new feature.
--Apple is finally allowing its users to share files between mobile devices and Mac computer and laptops using AirDrop. Previously, they could only exclusively share files between mobile devices or between Macs.
--Apple unveiled OS X Yosemite, its new computer operating system that will be released this fall. Yosemite boasts a cleaner look, much-needed updates to improve the Spotlight feature and a new "Today" view in the notification center that lets users see their upcoming calendar events, reminders and the weather forecast.
--The Safari Web browser was given some very big tweaks. The address bar at the top of the browser window will be shorter and smarter, suggesting relevant Wikipedia articles based on what's typed. Apple also has given Safari a "share" button identical to that found on the iOS mobile operating system.
--Apple bolstered its problematic mail app by adding a feature called Markup, which is a built-in editor for image attachments. It includes simple features such as a magnifying glass, text and shape annotations, and drag-to-resize arrows. The app also added MailDrop, a feature that lets you store attachments up to 5 GB in size in iCloud and send recipients a link to download it on their own. This will allow users to e-mail files that would otherwise be rejected because they're too big.
Shea Conner can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.
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