The highly-anticipated annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2014) opened at the Moscone West in San Francisco today. This year, the WWDC focused on the new versions of Mac OS X and iOS, which might have disappointed Apple fans anxious to see a new generation iPhone. The keynote indicates further integration of Mac OS X and iOS, with more similarities in interfaces and operation as well as releases of more application programming interfaces (APIs) to developers.
The Debut of Mac OSX 10.10 Yosemite
Since the launch of the free Mac OS X 10.9 at the 2013 WWDC, 80 million Mac computers have been installed with Mavericks, and 51% of the users have upgraded the system. The installation percentage is much higher than the 14% of Microsoft’s Windows 8.
The next generation system, Mac OSX 10.10 Yosemite, was formally unveiled by Craig Federighi, SVP of software engineering at Apple. Named after the Yosemite National Park in the United States, Yosemite also has the flat design and translucence, two features more obvious in icons and the user interface. In fact, the flat-design established the new visual style of Apple’s operating system following the launch of iOS 7 last year.
More advanced Calendar, Spotlight, iCloud Drive, Safari and SMS
The brand new Calendar looks more similar to the iOS 7 platform. Yosemite also has blurred effects for Notification Center as in iOS 7. The most-used Spotlight search now not only searches through apps, documents, contacts and e-mail on a Mac computer but also aggregates information from the App Store, Apple Maps and the Internet. Moreover, the search box opens right in the center of the desktop.
In Yosemite, iCloud is upgraded into iCloud Drive, which becomes an independent file drive in Finder that stores files in the cloud and can be accessed from different platforms and devices. The change is seen as a direct challenge to Google Drive and OneDrive.
Safari is another highlight in Yosemite. In addition to integration of Safari’s search with Spotlight, the brand-new UI is also more user-friendly. For example, users can switch between tabs with easier scrolls. Part of the toolbar is removed to provide larger space for the content while the faster-running upgraded web browser saves more battery life on a Mac.
Finally the Messages app allows users to receive both iMessages and SMS messages, with group messaging and voice messaging also available on the latest operating system.
New features – Mail Drop, Markup, and Handoff
One of Yosemite’s new features is Mail Drop, an app integrated with the 5GB free space on iCloud. It sends larger attachments such as audio files or videos simultaneously when users need to attach them in e-mails. Markup enables users to directly edit and zoom in received photos or PDF files and to make markup like arrows, texts and text boxes.
Federighi stressed “continuity” in both Yosemite and iOS 8. Via Handoff, users can finish the remaining work on a Mac, be it sending a message or an e-mail from their iPhone or iPad.
What’s more exciting is that Yosemite even makes phone calls possible on a Mac. Federighi demonstrated the feature by calling his new business partner Dr. Dre, co-founder of Beats Electronics, which Apple just bought recently, and talked to him at the event. Users can easily call any stores after looking up their phone numbers on Safari with a quick click.
Seamless integration of Mac OS X and iOS
It was speculated that Mac OS X would be further integrated into iOS and share more similarities. Now this looks true in Yosemite, which has the same visual style and more efficient file and photo synchronization with iOS. “Continuity” allows users to complete their work on different devices and even Mac can be used to make phone calls. As Windows’ market share gradually declined in recent years, many users embraced Mac OS X instead. I suppose Apple aims to boost support for Mac OS X by taking advantage of consumers’ loyalty to iPhone and iPad.
Yosemite’s beta version is open to developers starting today, while the official release is scheduled for this fall.