Apple iOS 8 to offer health and home features, work more closely with mac

Apple has introduced new health and connected-home features for the software powering the iPhone and iPad, laying the groundwork for a busy second half of the year as the company seeks to rev up its growth.

The company announced the new mobile software, iOS 8, at its annual developer conference in San Francisco. The update, which Apple expects to release between September and November this year, includes HealthKit, which lets people monitor their health and acts as a data hub for fitness apps, and HomeKit, which includes home-automation elements so people can control locks, garage doors and lights from their devices.

Apple also showed new mobile search features that give direct links to relevant web pages if users are making certain common queries, letting people avoid Google. The company added new text messaging features, including a predictive typing tool, and a new feature to help people store more photos on their iPhones.

Apple's rivalry with Google was evident. Chief executive officer Tim Cook made several digs at Google's Android mobile software, including criticising it for having weak security.

The event was also used to announce the new version of Apple's home operating system for Macs, dubbed Yosemite, which includes a streamlined toolbar for using the calendar, clock and calculator. Apple also includes redesigned icons for apps included in the system - even the trash bin for holding unwanted files.

Apple also expanded its online cloud service, iCloud, with a new feature called iCloud Drive. It allows users to store files online and access them across different devices, similar to the service offered by Dropbox.

Many of the announcements also focused on making iPhones, iPads and Macs work more seamlessly together -- be they text messages, constructing documents or making phone calls. The new Mac software has a feature called Handoff, which simplifies working on documents between Macs, iPhones and iPads. It also includes ways to receive and make calls from the Mac if an iPhone is charging or isn't available.

"Our operating system, devices and services work together in harmony," Cook said at the event. "Together they provide an integrated and continuous experience across all of our products."


Helping mobile developers

HomeKit will allow developers to create more apps to help consumers use their mobile devices as a sort of remote control for their homes. Apple said it worked with a dozen or so home-automation companies on the underlying technology for HomeKit.

Apple, which has faced criticism from developers who said their apps are hard to find in the company's crowded App Store, also displayed new search tools, testing features, and previews so developers can make short videos to showcase their apps.

The company added ways for apps to work more closely with each other -- for example, a photo edited in one app can be quickly added to another one. The programs are currently isolated so data can't be shared with another tool.

To ease development of applications for the iPhone, iPad and Mac, Apple also introduced an entirely new programming language called Swift, which was greeted enthusiastically by the audience.

Calling Dre

To show off the new ways to make a phone call using a Mac, Apple's vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi called Dr. Dre using the computer with updated software.

"I can't wait to get to work for the team at Apple," Dr. Dre said during the call. "What time should I get in to work?"

With its new storage and sending products, called iCloud Drive and Maildrop, Apple is set to compete more with Dropbox. and other similar services. Using iCloud Drive, Apple will save a person's files on its servers so they can be accessed from any device. The mail service Maildrop makes it easier to send large files.

"You now have a great way to work across applications," Federighi said.

Bloomberg, New York Times

This article Apple iOS 8 to offer health and home features, work more closely with mac was originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald.