Apple's Mac operating system is getting a new design and better ways to exchange files, while the software for iPhones and iPads is getting new features for keeping tabs on your health.
Apple executive Craig Federighi pointed out that data from various fitness-related devices now live in silos, so you can't get a comprehensive picture of your health. That will change, he says, with HealthKit. Apple is also working with the Mayo Clinic to make sure your weight, calorie intake and other health metrics are within healthy ranges.
Apple is also making it easier for various devices to work together. You can share songs, movies and books you purchase with your entire family. The lines between Macs and mobile gadgets are also blurring even more; you can share and sync files between the two more easily.
The company is previewing the new features at its 25th annual conference for software developers in San Francisco. Here are the highlights on what's been announced so far and what's coming:
CHANGES TO MAC COMPUTERS:
- The next Mac system will be named Yosemite, after the national park, now that Apple is naming it after California locales rather than cats.
- Yosemite will have a translucent design. The notification center will use that design, for instance, to give you an advance look at your calendar, weather and other information.
- You'll be able to search for content on the computer and on the Internet at once, similar to a feature that came with Microsoft's Windows 8.1 system.
- Apple is expanding its iCloud storage service so that you can store and sync files of any type, not just the ones designed specifically for iCloud. It's similar to how services such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft's OneDrive let you work with the same files on multiple devices more easily.
- A Mail Drop feature will make it easier to send large files. Instead of pushing the entire file by email and overloading mail servers, the Mac will create a link that the recipient can click for the full file.
- The Mac's Safari Web browser will have more privacy controls and ways to share links more easily.
- The free Mac update will be out this fall. A version is available for developers Monday. This summer, Apple will also make a test version available to selected customers who aren't developers.
CHANGES TO IPHONES AND IPADS:
- Like the new Mac OS, the iOS 8 system will have a universal search tool, to cover both files on your device and content on the Internet. It will also get the iCloud Drive service.
- The new software will sport interactive notifications, so you can respond to a message without having to leave another app.
- There will be new gestures, such as double tapping to get a list of people you communicate most often.
- A "quick type" feature promises predictive typing suggestions. For example, if you start typing, "Do you want to go to," the phone will suggest "dinner" or "movie" as the next word. Currently, the suggestions are limited to spelling corrections.
- A "do not disturb" feature will make it easier to stop notifications on a conversation with just a swipe, while a "tap to talk" feature records and sends audio messages to a recipient so you don't have to type.
- IOS 8 will have a built-in health-management tool to help people track their vital signs, diet and sleeping habits. Apple's chief rival, Samsung Electronics Co., incorporated fitness-related features in its latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S5.
- The new iOS may also include a long-awaited digital wallet that enables Apple to process payments on iPhones and iPads. Google Inc. has already tried something similar on its Android software for smartphones, but it hasn't gained much traction in digital payments.
- There's been speculation that Apple will unveil a home automation system that will enable iPhones and iPad to become a remote control for managing lighting, security and other household appliances with wireless connections.
- The new software will likely come with new devices for the holiday season, with free updates available for recent models.
- Although the Mac and iOS systems are separate, Apple CEO Time Cook says the two have been engineered to work seamlessly together.
- Apple's AirDrop feature, which has let you share files with other devices of the same type, will now let iPhones and Macs share directly with each other.
- A new "handoff" feature will let you switch devices more easily, so you can start writing an email on a phone and finish on a Mac. And when a call comes in on your iPhone, you can get caller ID information on your Mac.
- The iMessage chat service will now let you communicate with devices that aren't running iOS, such as those running the rival Android system from Google.
COMING TO CARS:
- There's a Ferrari spotted in the building, an indication that Apple will update people on CarPlay, its project for embedding automobiles with some of the iPhone's main applications. Apple is developing a CarPlay to let drivers can control cars with voice commands, a touch on the steering wheel or a swipe on a display screen in the dashboard. Cars with built-in CarPlay services and radios that are compatible with CarPlay are both expected this year.
- Last week, Apple announced a deal to pay $3 billion for Beats Electronics, a headphone and music streaming specialist. The deal brings rapper Dr. Dre and recording impresario Jimmy Iovine to undetermined roles at Apple. During a demo Monday, Federighi placed a call to Dr. Dre to welcome him to Apple. Dr. Dre joked about when he should get into work.
- In late April, Apple updated its MacBook Air laptops with faster processors. It also lowered the starting price to $899, down from $999.
COMING FOR THE HOLIDAYS:
- Apple typically holds a separate event in September to announce new iPhones. Updates to the iPad are also likely, possibly at yet another event. Many analysts also believe the company will release an Internet-connected watch later this year as part of Apple's expansion into wearable technology.