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News  3, Jun 2014

Apple unveils iOS 8 and a tonne of goodies at this year’s WWDC

The new OS for every single iPhone, iPad and iPod out there will be out this fall. What else did WWDC reveal?

Startups with at least a slice of tech cred would have heard of Apple‘s Worldwide Developers Conference (abbreviated as WWDC because why not!) that takes place every mid-year. Usually it’s filled with a number of Apple products-related bombshell news and much speculation on the company’s influential future.

This year’s WWDC is no different, as the company that made the concept of putting smaller case ‘i’s on things hip and cool has made few game-changing announcements.

The new iOS 8
The new OS for every single iPhone/iPad/iDevice out there will be out this fall worldwide. If you’re a startup making games/apps for the device, you get to download the beta and SDK right now.

So what new spiffy things can operating system numero eighto do? For starters, it will make transitions between your smartphone, Mac computer, and tablet all the more seamless. Apple said during the conference that it interacts very well with the new version of the OS X. Developers can use the Extensions paradigm, which will allow them to create tethers between apps to make them flexible working with one another.

The OS also introduces interactive notifications; users can just pull down notification tabs from a different app and interact with it from there rather than needlessly switch to that app. Apart from this, the iOS’ mailbox, Siri voice function, iCloud options and on-screen keyboard are given new adjustments.

The iOS 7 was created then to make users familiar with the new design. This brand of news is the meat-and-bones add-on to the earlier coat of paint.

The update is free for iPhone 4s and newer models, the fifth-generation iPod touch, and iPad 2 and newer models.

Swift
iOS developers will be making a small-but-significant jump in app programming, as Apple announced that it will replace its Objective-C program language with a new one called Swift. The program language will be using the same compilers as its predecessor, so it’ll be familiar for longtime Objective-C users and won’t be a compatibility hassle between the old and new.

It will also run faster and will feature a ‘Playground’ option which lets developers edit their code on the fly and watch the changes on the app in real-time. For those who want to see how this new programming language works, Apple just published an iBook about it.

Image credit: Techcrunch

Also Read: Tencent and GungHo owned iOS and GooglePlay respectively last March

Continuity
Ever wanted to take iPhone calls using your Mac computer? Now you can thanks to this newfangled iOS 8 feature called Continuity. Users will be able to take and make phone calls using the OS X despite how far their iPhones are. It goes far as to deal with non-Apple apps too: if a non-Apple user sends a text message, the iPhone will relay it to all other connect devices. Communication between iDevices is made more convenient, in other words.

iMessage overhaul
Back then, the iOS’ iMessage was an afterthought when compared with the likes of LINE and KakaoTalk. Apple took this to heart and plans to revamp iMessage in a big way. Users can now send audio and video messages on the app; anyone who receives these voice messages can respond to them straight from the lock screen if they raise their iPhone to their faces. Users can also make their messages self-destruct in a set period of time.

Essentially, iMessage is taking bits of WhatsApp, SnapChat and other chat app features to make its iOS messaging system a little more attractive. Because if there’s no room for innovation, why not borrow what ain’t broken, right?

Plus, smartphone users can make calls on local wireless connections. This is dependent on your local telcos. For instance, there’s a huge chance Singapore’s SingTel may be involved when iOS 8 hits the country.

iHealth(?)
Even if this health-based app is not following the Apple naming conventions, the iOS 8′s HealthKit seems practical as a standalone feature if you keep tabs on your body on a regular basis. It’s an all-in-one app for all health data that is collected onto your phone. Partners that will help flesh out the HealthKit in the future include Nike, at least from an international standpoint. Would this be a good opportunity for Asian healthcare centres to start negotiating with Apple, given the continuing rise in mobile penetration in the region?

There’s no App Store Bitcoin paying option yet, but at least Apple’s stance with the virtual currency is clear. Image credit: Bitcoin Magazine

The company’s positive stance on Bitcoin
Just recently, Apple added a new rule under its App Store guidelines about virtual currency, specifically Bitcoins. It says under 11.17: “Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions.”

This means that it’s fine with apps that handle Bitcoin transactions as long as it complies with state and federal laws. With the virtual currency still trending and companies like Coin Republic giving it legitimacy, this can be a sign that Apple is welcoming to any form of innovation.

Also Read: The Internet of Things becomes the Quantified Self

Battery check
Just like how OS X users can check which app is eating up battery power on their laptops, smartphone users can now use the settings feature of iOS 8 to do the same on their mobile devices. Though to be fair, it’s usually social games running in the background that are the usual culprits.

Internet browsing made privy
A small but noteworthy addition: internet search engine DuckDuckGo will be an option as a default search engine for the Safari browser. The search engine is renowned for protecting user privacy, getting info from the best sources, and not profiling its users. In case you’re not a fan of how Google’s search engine works, there’s a new option that can fit your comfort needs.

Did we forget something from this year’s WWDC exhibition? Let us know in the comments section below.

Jonathan Toyad

Jonathan Toyad

If you want an elaborate answer on who would win in a fight between Ultraman and Godzilla, Jonathan Toyad is your man. A six-year veteran in the game journalism industry, he did words and videos for outlets such as GameSpot, GameAxis, IGN and Stuff.TV. Fears coyotes and scorched earths.

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