Apple has announced new operating systems for its iOS and OS X devices at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.
As had long been rumoured, the latest update to Apple’s iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 8, will introduce health tracking support, with the new ‘Health’ app providing a unified overview for multiple health tracking devices and third-party apps.
iOS 8 will also redesign the ‘Messages’ app to improve usability, add predictive and contextually-aware typing to Apple’s QuickType keyboard and provide support for third-party virtual keyboard software.
“iOS 8 offers simpler, faster and more intuitive ways to use your device with incredible new features like iCloud Photo Library, a new Messages app, the QuickType keyboard and an entirely new Health app,” said Craig Federighi, Apple SVP of software engineering.
“We’re also giving developers amazing new tools to make managing your health and your home from your devices an integrated, simple and secure experience.”
Apple also introduced ‘iCloud Drive’, a cloud storage service similar to Dropbox and Microsoft’s OneDrive.
Using iCloud Drive, users can upload documents, files and media which can then be accessed and edited across their iOS, Mac and Windows devices.
OS X Yosemite:
Joining the update to Apple’s mobile devices was a redesigned update to its Mac operating system, OS X.
OS X Yosemite refreshes the operating system’s aesthetic appearance, adds several new apps and integrates software utilies such as the ‘Today’ view, which provides a hub for notifications.
In addition to this, the new iCloud Drive service has been integrated into the Finder app, and Apple’s Safari web browser has similarly been granted a new streamlined design.
Other new utilities include Handoff, which lets users start an activity on one device and pass it to the other, and Instant Hotspot, which makes tethering a Mac to an iPhone for internet connectivity easier.
Yosemite will also allow users the ability to make iPhone calls on their Mac.
“Yosemite is the future of OS X with its incredible new design and amazing new apps, all engineered to work beautifully with iOS,” said Federighi.
“We engineer our platforms, services and devices together, so we are able to create a seamless experience for our users across all our products that is unparalleled in the industry. It’s something only Apple can deliver.”
“Critics may complain of a lack of new devices but WWDC creates the foundation for the products Tim Cook is promising in the second half of 2014 and beyond,” commented Geoff Blaber, VP of research for the Americas at analyst CCS Insight.
“We are beginning to see the emergence of a new, more open Apple as it seeks to diversify, expand the ecosystem and drive device sales.
“The OS updates to iOS and OS X are less significant than the applications and services that deepen the integration between the two operating systems (e.g. iCloud Drive, AirDrop, Handoff). This kind of integration is exactly why Mac volumes grew by double digits in a year when PC sales declined and is central to Apple’s continued growth in both current and future categories.
“WWDC saw the convergence of iOS and OS X at one level yet their continued separation at another with distinct operating systems for touch and hard key input. The big question is how long Apple can avoid the seemingly inevitable convergence of the two and a touch-based Mac."
iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite will be launched this Autumn, with iOS 8 likely to accompany the launch of a new iPhone model.