It’s been a long day at work and as you open the front door to your house, you realize how happy you are to be home. The familiar comforts and smells welcome you back as you walk into your living room and plop down on the couch. “Siri, I’m home!” you announce. The lights near you brighten and the air conditioner jumps to life. Everything is just the way you want it to be, and yet you haven’t done so much as lift a finger to get it that way. This might sound like the fictional 1999 Disney movie Smart House, but Apple wants to make it a reality - without an evil robot sabotage of course.
Although techies from around the globe predictably flock to Apple’s famous World Wide Developers Conference, each year brings a new and unexpected twist to Apple’s established line of hardware and software; and this year was no exception. Beginning with the introduction of the next operating system for Mac and ending with improved developer features (including an all-new coding language called Swift), this year’s WWDC has given technophiles more than enough to chew on for the next few months. As expected, Apple’s Keynote followed a relatively traditional format, first introducing the next-in-line operating systems: OS X 10.10 and iOS 8. Like it’s predecessor, ‘Mavericks’ (named for the California Maverick waves), OS X 10.10 Yosemite is also named after a California landmark, and much like iOS 7, Yosemite swaps isomorphic icons for those of the flat variety and introduces increased window transparency. The new system has more than just looks, though. It features integrated calendar and location capabilities that not only let you schedule a beach trip, but also tell you how to get to the nearest beach; an improved Safari browsing experience; and Mail Drop, which enables the sending of large (up to 5GB) files through iCloud. As if that wasn't enough, the audience was thrown one more juicy apple with the introductions of iCloud Drive and Airdrop “handoff” - software advancements that allow users to not only access documents across devices, but also “pick up” documents from one device to another for increased continuity. Apple’s iOS 8 builds on the most popular features of iOS 7 by adding a new burst of initiative; actionable notifications. This new feature enables users to view message notifications and even comment or engage with them in the notification bar without having to switch to a designated app. This is especially good news for those of us who have experienced what it feels like to be in the middle of an important game when an even more important message comes in (read: you don’t ever have to actually leave your game of 2048). Additionally, this new mobile OS is growing brains with features like context-smart predictive texting and a search bar that automatically gathers relevant information, including apps or files that are outside of your phone. iOS 8 has grown a heart, too, with the all-new HealthKit, a group of apps and services that composites all of a user’s health information and apps into a single space to enable a comprehensive look into their wellbeing. Throw in vastly improved Siri capabilities, voice and video messaging, and enterprise device enrollment, and it is apparent that the iPhone has made one giant leap for cellularkind. Finally, Apple left its developers in awe with the introduction of a largely unforeseen new ability- the powers of an entirely new coding language. Named Swift, this new breed of programming language allows developers to use a relatively small amount of code for the creation of high-quality apps. Faster than the industry standard, Apple is already hedging its bets that Swift will become the standard sometime soon. Both iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 Yosemite will be available for free this fall. Want to know all the juicy details from WWDC 2014? Read The Guardian’s “as it happened” coverage here. -Melanie Katz, Summer 2014 Intern