SNEAK PEEK: Apple's New Features

Category: Apple-Mac

Apple has unveiled a slew of new features coming this Fall to its iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices. Some are truly innovative, but many have Android and Windows users asking, “That’s new?” Here's the scoop...

What's New in iOS8?

Apple's iOS8 Preview page touts the changes coming in Fall 2014 as "Huge for Developers" and "Massive for everyone else." If you're an iPhone, iPad or Mac user, some of these updates will be welcome and useful. If you're a Windows or Android user, you'll not find much to compel you to switch.

On this plus side, some of iOS 8’s new group messaging features are not found in competing OSes. You can add your voice or video to messages, and automatically share your location. For those with multiple Apple devices, there are some improvements that make the experience of moving from one device to another more seamless. Start an email on one iOS or Mac device and pick up where you left off on another. Send a text from any of those gadgets, and if your iPhone is ringing, you can answer the call on your Mac or iPad.

iOS8 Sneak Peel

The Mac OS X Yosemite tool that recognizes your iPhone and automatically turns it into a WiFi hotspot is nifty. HealthKit, a health monitoring app suite, is well done but there are already many similar apps.

Oh, and Apple’s chief software engineer, Craig Federight, placed a phone call to Dr. Dre via a Mac computer. That’s the news, really! Google Voice has enabled such VoIP calls via Gmail since 2010. Soon, Macs will also be able to sync text messages with iPhones, something Google Voice users have done for years too. And it's nice that iOS 8 can suggest contextually appropriate words while composing messages, but my Android smartphone does that already.

Apple will finally support widgets, the cute little interactive apps that Android has had since 2008. But Apple will force users to pull down a menu in order to view their widgets, unlike Android which lets widgets sit in easy view on the home screen.

Later this year, Apple users will be able to double-tap the “home” button to display frequently accessed contacts. Android users don’t have to double-tap; they just plop the “frequent contacts” widget on their home screen and there the contacts are.

Easier to Like, Share, Sync and Search

Apple’s new “interactive notifications” let you “like” a Facebook post from its notification instead of clicking through to your Facebook page, or dispose of uninteresting notifications with a flick. Android already does this, but a little less efficiently than Apple will; in Android, you have to pull down a notifications menu.

The Apple photo-viewing app and iCloud cloud-storage service are now integrated so that one can view backed-up photos in the cloud right along with photos stored locally on your iOS device. Android and Google+ have done this all along.

Syncing folders across multiple devices is something Android and Windows have long done using Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. Apple says it will do likewise in a few months, but it will charge more. Apple will charge $1 per month for 20 gigabytes of iCloud storage and $4 for 200 GB. Google Drive charges $2 per month for 100 GB and $10 for 1 terabyte (1,000 GB).

Mac OS X Yosemite will soon let you search your Mac and launch apps via the Spotlight app; all you have to do is hit Command-Space and start typing. Windows 8 does likewise except you just start typing.

Is Apple Still an Innovator?

The list of ways in which Apple plans to catch up with Android and Windows goes on. Third-party keyboard support; translucent windows; HomeKit, which lets you control your home-based devices from an iPhone or iPad, are all in Android or at least have been attempted. Nobody has gotten remote home automation and control right; perhaps HomeKit will.

Competition is a good thing, and it's not at all unusual to see leapfrogging when it comes to features in popular devices and software. The iPhone gets a new feature or app, and Android users want the same. Microsoft adds a feature to Windows, and Mac users want it. Google improves a product or reduces pricing, and the others are compelled to follow suit. Consumers benefit as a result.

But many pundits are saying that Apple has gotten a bit stale in recent years, and is now playing catch-up instead of innovating. What's your take?

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "SNEAK PEEK: Apple's New Features"

Posted by:

06 Jun 2014

Catch up doesn't matter to me. I remember when 500mb hard drives were blow away -- I love iPhone! Well, okay, maybe I don't love Apple much especially as the controlling figure.

Posted by:

Mike Hughes
06 Jun 2014

I like my Macs now and after working on PC troubles all day it is refreshing to get home to a system that works. But that said I believe Apple innovation died with Steve Jobs. Now they are doing like Windows used to do in the Jobs days come out with a feature and say me too!

Mike Hughes, Comptia A+ and Network+, MOS certified.

Posted by:

06 Jun 2014

As I read your post, all I could think is "sounds like catch up to me" and nothing like the Apple innovations of yesteryear. I can get more functionality out of just jailbreaking my device and it seems to me that Apple is overlooking a valuable resource in the Cydia community of developers. Having an Apple device no longer means you have the coolest and most advanced device around. I think and have thought for a very long time that Apple is losing serious ground in the smartphone market. I've been an iDevice user for a long time and I used to wait anxiously for the newest releases of hardware and software; now, not so much. Android changed the game long ago and Apple is now the Microsoft to Google's Apple! Steve Jobs must have completed several 360s in his grave at this point. I haven't yet made the leap over to Android but each new iteration of the iPhone makes me think the choice to do so is imminent; I haven't bothered to buy a new device since my 4S! I love how my iPhone "just works" but I hate how I always feel like I'm saying "my iPhone doesn't do that...".

Posted by:

06 Jun 2014

SmartPhones have become like a 'commodity' and I presume we must thank Google/Android for making the technology almost generic and same. If you go to McDonald's and order a 'plain old burger', it is going to taste almost like the 'plain old burger' you order at BurgerKing >> as with burgers, so has become with SmartPhones and the differences are becoming very subtle.
The exception has been that Apple has always taking the attitude that "it is my way or the highway". Google slapped Apple around a bit and showed that "special orders don't upset us" and provided people with what they wanted and at a nicer price.
I was finally able to convince my live-in mate to jump from the iPhone camp to a new (Android) HTC One M8 and I am proud to say that she truly is liking her M8 (possibly more). And I giggled all the way thru the arduous process of ridding her Windows laptop of iTunes cling-ons, for once and for all. Wooot!
Personally, I am still holding out for the proper WindowsPhone hardware that is to my liking and it appears that may still be a long wait until the proper one takes my fancy to finally own one!

Posted by:

06 Jun 2014

I no longer feel the excitement of times past when Apple would do the build-up to a new release or a product announcement. Steve Jobs death took a lot of steam out of the company. Perhaps it will come back again, but I feel like the magic is gone.

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