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WWDC News: Apple Announces OS 10.10 Yosemite

It seems funny to type that — 10.10 — but Apple’s newest OS incarnation is just that: the 11th version of the OS X operating system (pardon the redundancy). In his keynote, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, talked about the “future of OS X: “Yosemite.”

My first thought: How can the successor to Mavericks top itself? I’ve loved the cleaner, more iOS-like interface of Mavericks, and especially loved the changes to Finder and couldn’t make the switch fast enough, especially since it was free-of-charge to Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain Lion users. However, along with the beneficial features and the fact that it kicked off a new OS naming scheme dedicated to notable California locales, it also had a few hiccups (most notably with Mail) that could stand to be improved upon.

From the looks of Yosemite, it delivers and then some.

So, what will users see in the latest Mac OS? For starters, Yosemite also includes a user interface redesign, further adding iOS 7 (and iOS 8!)-like visuals to your desktop. Yosemite boasts a more seamless integration between all of your devices as well as major new features focusing on seamless integration between Mac and iOS devices, a storage system called iCloud Drive, which is essentially iDisk coming back but with enhanced cloud features, and phone and text features added to your desktop.

New Interface and Notification Center
As I mentioned, the look of Yosemite clearly borrows from the flat, bright design of iOS 7, complete with transparent windows, updated app icons, newly-integrated weather features and widgets and a redesigned Notification Center. (I think this officially phases out Dashboard, but there was no mention of that…it may just go quietly.) Users can also adjust the brightness/translucency of the background to give a more customized look.

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Continuity
Continuity is arguably the biggest new feature of OS X Yosemite, utilizing AirDrop to improve the connection between Macs and iOS devices. What this means is that you’ll be able to share files from your Mac to your iPad or iPhone…this was met with a big applause. (Previously, this feature only allowed files to be shared between Macs or between iOS devices.)

With Continuity comes Handoff, a new feature that allows iOS devices and Macs to “sense” one another, which will in turn, let the user pick up on one device where the other left off. Visual prompts on your devices make this process easy. Handoff could be extremely useful for emails, browser windows, and more — I mean, how nice would it be for your devices to truly be in sync? Big Brother-ish? Maybe, but for practicality purposes, I think most people would welcome this technology.

In Yosemite, calls and texts (SMS and MMS) are now available from your Mac. Not only can you see in real time who’s calling or texting you (even if your phone is across the house), you can actually answer them from your Mac. Texting has been available in Messages on Mavericks, but the notification process is vastly updated. Answering phone calls is all new, and could be really useful for many users.

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Spotlight
Spotlight also got a redesign in Yosemite. With the search bar now in the center of your screen, some speculate that Apple is taking a swipe at Google with the relocation of the Spotlight prompt. You can search your computer files as always, but also the web, and pages like Wikipedia and Yelp pop up to help retrieve the best results. Spotlight has added unit conversions as well, which is something many of us (and I’m sure, many of you out there) utilize Google search for.

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iCloud Drive
iCloud is getting a significant boost for usability with the addition of Drive. Similar to Google Drive, Dropbox, and SugarSync, iCloud Drive adds some awesome new capabilities. One major thing I noticed (that’s worth upgrading in and of itself) is the change in how it will handle email attachments. Now, if you want to share a file that’s reasonably large (say, 15MB or more, depending on both your the recipient’s email client limitations), it’s likely to bounce the entire message. With Yosemite and iCloud Drive, it will automatically take a file that’s too large to send and give the recipient a link to download it instead — but the email still goes through. I can’t tell you how great this will be for our workflow.

Of course, syncing is enhanced in iCloud Drive as well. Users will be able to see their files in the cloud from both Mac and iOS devices. (I assume that there’s a PC option in there somewhere, too, since it should be web-accessible via icloud.com, but I haven’t confirmed this.) iCloud Drive’s debut also changes pricing tiers. The first 5GB of iCloud storage is free, 20GB costs $0.99/month, and 200GB costs $3.99/month.

Safari
First noticeable thing: There’s a new tab view, designed to replace the existing Bookmarks bar. Users can scroll through tabs left to right, which is a nice feature if you’re someone who works with a million (OK, maybe a slight exaggeration) tabs open at a time. There’s also a place directly under the Search bar for Smart suggestions; this is designed to help users find what they need faster, whether it’s already a bookmark or not. I imagine that this might take some getting used to…I’m anticipating some clunkiness at first, but it could prove to be a worthy update.

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Mail
As I mentioned above, one of the main complaints about Mavericks was Mail usability and compatibility (especially with certain Google accounts and settings). Hopefully, Apple has worked out the kinks there (and if not, I guess there’s still time before it’s available to everyone, so I’m sure developers will give crucial feedback). The main improvements to the Mail app in Yosemite that Craig mentioned include Markup and Mail Drop. Markup allows users to “mark up” (read: doodle) right in the app, which could be really handy for basic adjustments to images or files with our the need for Photoshop or even Preview to be open beforehand.

Mail Drop is what I described earlier regarding iCloud Drive and sending email attachments. iCloud now encrypts the attachments and sends the recipient a link to the attachment if it’s too large; files cannot exceed 5 GB, but that’s dramatically larger than virtually all email client limitations and more than most people would ever need to send anyway.

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I’m really excited to get this on my (personal) iMac, since we’ll be restricted from using Yosemite until IT clears it — likely beyond the official Fall release date. I plan to renew my Developer account, so we’ll see. In the meantime, Don has installed it on his personal machine already, so I’ll be pestering him for details.

Both Yosemite and iOS will be available for free to the public this Fall.

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Apple's iPad and Mac Event: Tune In on October 22

Apple has officially announced a special event that will be held next Tuesday, October 22. Rumors have been circulating that this event will most likely feature the 5th generation iPad, an iPad mini with Retina display, a Retina MacBook Pro with better battery life and hopefully, a ship date for the new Mac Pro.

The event will take place in San Francisco at 10am PDT (1pm EST). There should be a lot going on at this event, because as the image they released suggests, “We still have a lot to cover.” People might be most excited about the new design of 5th generation iPad, which is rumored to have a smaller bezel like the iPad mini and perhaps even a thinner and lighter housing.

Many are also hoping that they will finally announce the release date of Mavericks, which they said originally would be sometime this fall. Well, it’s fall already, so where the heck is it?!

Apple likes to announce all sorts of new products right before the holidays to get everyone excited. I mean, who wouldn’t want a sweet new iPad for Christmas? Be sure to tune in to our Twitter feed @hellosmalldog, where we’ll be live tweeting during the announcements, and/or check back here after the event to read all about the wrap-up.

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Apple's iPhone Event: The Recap

Today was a much anticipated day: as someone quoted on Twitter, “it’s like Christmas for iPhone users.” And it kind of is! For the most part, Mac rumor sites had it right: the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s were both announced. There are always leaked photos of the shells and guts of the phones before they are officially announced, but I think it all really comes together when we actually get to see the real thing in its true form, up on the screen.

Apple, in my opinion, nailed it with the colors: bright and vibrant. They also created a case for the 5c that comes in the same colors as the phone but with a grid of holes punched out in the back so you’re able to see the color of the phone underneath. This allows you to mix and match the phone with the case to create a fun color combination.

The 5c will be available in 16GB and 32GB and will start at $99, with the price of $199 for the 32GB. So does the “c” stand for — ‘cheap’ or ‘color’? In a(n unofficial) word: both!

The second of the two phones announced was the iPhone 5s. As rumored, the phone is now available in gold along with the same white and black options. But, the coolest feature of the new iPhone 5s has to be the Touch ID. The home button of the iPhone 5s now doubles as 500ppi fingerprint sensor: that’s it folks, we are officially in the future!

The Touch ID will allow iPhone owners to simply touch their home button to unlock their device (instead of swiping to unlock). Touch ID will also allow you to authenticate your iTunes purchases. Some might be a little weary of Apple having access to ones fingerprint but Apple has ensured the public that they will be encrypted and will not be available to third parties.

Another great features of the 5s is the new processor, A7, and according to Apple, is more than twice as fast as its predecessor. The camera was also updated going from 8-megapixel to a 1.5x larger active sensor area with a five-element Apple-designed lens with f/2.2 aperture. The cool thing about this is what when you take a photo, the camera actually takes multiple photos and picks the sharpest one for you to view. Wicked smart!

The prices and capacities are the same as the 5’s were: 16GB: $199, 32GB: $299 and 64GB: $399. The iPhone 5 is no longer available, but you can get a 4S for free when you sign a new cellular contract.

All-in-all, the anticipated products were, in fact, announced. I have a feeling the color phones are going to be a huge success due to the fact that people love color as well as a more affordable option for an iPhone. The 5s should also do very well due to the new technology it carries. Apple nerds rejoice!

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Apple Announces Official iPhone Event on September 10th

“This should brighten everyone’s day.” And for some, I’m sure this news did just that: Apple sent out official invites to their September 10th event today which is set to take place in Cupertino at 10am PT (1pm ET). The rumor sites have been going crazy with reports that Apple is going to be unveiling multiple devices next Tuesday.

These rumors (just to catch some of you up) include a lower-cost iPhone “5C,” a more expensive iPhone 5S that is supposed to have a better camera and comes in a sweet new gold (or “champagne”) color. The iPhone 5C will most likely have a plastic backing with the same guts as the normal iPhone. By using the word “brighten” in the headline for their event invite, as well as multiple colored dots for a graphic, Apple could potentially be hinting that there might be some truth to the colored iPhone “5C.”

There will most likely be other announcements at this event. I’d suspect that details on iTunes Radio (which was announced during the WWDC in June) and maybe even the release date of iOS 7 and Mavericks. But who knows — Apple is sneaky in that they like to hint, but never, ever do they release an itinerary of what they are going to cover at such events.

Until September 10th hits, we can only take our best guesses!

We’ll be live tweeting the coverage, so make sure you’re following us @hellosmalldog and be sure to check back here for our recap of everything that went down at the event!

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WWDC 2013 Recap

Monday kicked off the start of Apple’s week long conference WWDC. This year’s event marks Apple’s 24th show, which, according to Tim Cook, is the longest running conference of its kind. The Keynote presentation delivered by Cook and Apple’s top minds introduced a multitude of new features and products we can expect to see from Apple in the near future.

To start, the latest iteration of OS X was announced. Due to a dwindling number of cat species, the clever folks at Apple chose to code name the next generation of operating systems after famous landmarks in the California area. The upcoming version will be called OS X Mavericks — after a famous surf destination in Cali. With the latest OS will come new features like a Maps app, Finder tabs and performance optimizations (just to name a few).

Of course, Apple isn’t going to forget about the mobile developers it has in the crowd — and so we saw iOS 7 unveiled. iOS 7 has a radically new and simplistic design. The rumors of a flat design turned out to be true — and I, for one, love the new look. The home screen will sport a new parallax design that makes the icons truly feel like they are on top of your background. Stunning full-screen animations bring apps like Weather to life. But Apple didn’t just focus on the aesthetics with iOS 7. New features in some old favorites like Photos plus some new apps altogether like Control Center make iOS 7 a sure fire hit when it gets officially released this fall.

Apple also introduced iTunes Radio. I’m sure some of you are familiar with the concept of streaming radio. Some of you may have even used a service like Pandora or Spotify to listen to a mix of music. Now Apple is stepping in to deliver a similar service, but with the Apple twist of ultimate integration and usability.

Software wasn’t the only thing that got some stage time. Apple also released an update to their MacBook Air line. Now you will be able to go all day long without requiring a power outlet (according to Apple). They boast that the 13-inch model’s battery will last up to 12 hours. Of course, this depends on what you are doing, but Apple stated you could watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy (or 10 hours of iTunes movie playback) on a single charge.

Apple also “broke away from tradition” with this year’s Keynote by giving everyone a sneak peek at the future. Long forgotten at these events, the former powerhouse Mac Pro got a much-needed upgrade. With plenty of teaser clips and fancy music, Apple piqued the interest of the entire audience with this sneak peek.

Finally, the unsung hero award of the presentation has to go to the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule. The new AirPorts sport the latest 802.11ac standard giving you up to 3x the performance. Its unique design allows for what Apple is calling “Beamforming”, a technology that targets your device to give it the best performance it possibly can. Don’t worry though, these new AirPorts are still just as easy to configure as their older brothers and you still have the ability to plug in a hard drive or printer.

Overall, this year’s WWDC Keynote was a hit. We have a lot to look forward to in the coming year, and I am definitely excited to see it all.

Check back all week as we push out more detailed reports on each of these topics.

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