Continuity, the next big thing for Apple and iOS 8

Early in June Apple held its annual Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. Around the same time each year, Apple invites developers from all over the world to attend a week-long conference where thousands of Apple employees are available to help developers make better apps. Better apps, gives consumers more of a reason to buy Apple devices over the competition, which in turn boosts revenue for Apple.

Since the release of the iPhone, at these yearly conferences Apple has revealed the next version of iOS. And recently it started showing off the next version of OS X. This year was no different.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook took to the stage and with the help of executive Craig Federighi and unveiled what amounts to the biggest update to iOS since it launched. And some would argue this is a pretty big update for OS X as well.

iOS 8 as it’s officially called, continues the same design approach found in iOS 7 with its flat user-interface. But more importantly, iOS 8 brings with it a new level of openness to the platform.

Not open in the same sense of what Android users scream as a battle cry every time someone challenges their platform of choice, but more open in the sense that for the first time in the history of iOS, third-party apps will be able to actively communicate with one another.

The current method forces users to bounce around between apps, often times leading to a clunky user-experience and the user forgetting where he or she started.

In addition to better content sharing between apps, users will also find widgets (YES!) in the notification pane. Developers will be able to place a widget in the notification panel (with your permission) that will allow you to take action, without even having to launch the app.

Then there’s a new HealthKit app that will track all of your health stats from third-party hardware and aggregate it into one convenient place on your behalf. Partnerships with hospitals and the likes of the Mayo Clinic can then monitor your health data, and if something is outside of your doctor’s guidelines, alert your doctor and provide you with instructions.

HomeKit allows for better control over home automation products; all from within one single app. Messages now offers better control over conversations, complete with location sharing. The camera has new features and modes; the list keeps on going.

OS X 10 Yosemite, as Apple calls it, brings the same design flavor first launched with iOS 7 to your Mac. The flat user-interface, with transparent menu and side bars to complete the look. There’s an improved notification center that will also see the use of widgets allowed. Safari has a brand new look and snappier feel to it.

But what’s perhaps the most appealing aspect of both updates is found in a feature Apple is calling Continuity.

Continuity uses low-energy Bluetooth 4.0 to link your iOS and OS X devices together. In most instances, as long as your Mac and iOS device uses the same iCloud account and is connected to the same Wi-Fi network, Continuity will work.

So what is Continuity? Think of it as a method for turning your Mac into an extension of your iOS device, and your iOS device into an extension to your Mac.

A good example of this would be those times you find yourself composing an email on your iPhone, with your Mac sitting right in front of you. Saving the message as a draft, and then launching Mail and navigating to the message is somewhat time consuming. With Continuity, your Mac will recognize you’re nearby and display a small email icon on your screen. Clicking the icon will close the email app on your iPhone, while at the same time launching the email app on your Mac, with the partially composed email ready for you to finish.

The same two-way handoff extends beyond just email. You can also expect to see the same thing when browsing a web page in Safari, text messaging with someone who doesn’t have an iOS device (yes, that means you can send text messages from your Mac), place and receive calls from your Mac, or create an instant hotspot with a click of a button on your Mac. Best of all, it’s not limited to just a Mac and iOS device. The same features can be carried out from an iPhone to iPad or vice-versa.

This constant communication between your Apple devices regardless of what device you start a task on, you have the option of finishing it on the best device for you.

There’s so much more within iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite I can’t hardly cover it all here on this single page, let alone this entire issue.

Should you want to read more about what enhancements will be coming to your devices this fall as a free update, visit Apple.com/ios/ios8.

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