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Apple kicked off its big World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco on Monday. As usual, there was no shortage of announcements from the main stage.
As with the last two years, we’ve picked through everything that’s been made public to track down what Apple-toting travellers have got to look forward to.
Unsurprisingly, the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system got a lot of attention. iOS 8 is due out in the (US) fall, and there are plenty of new additions that will make the update worth installing for travellers.
One word of caution, though – the new version will only work on iPhone 4S and higher, and the iPad 2 upwards. If you’re carrying an older model (maybe because it matters less if it’s broken or stolen, or because the phone is unlocked), you’ll be out of luck.
It’s not just iOS that’s getting updates, of course. The desktop hasn’t been neglected, and there’s some particularly nice integration for travellers who carry multiple Apple devices.
One minor surprise was a complete lack of new hardware. While nobody expected an upgraded iPhone quite yet, there was nothing in the way of wearable tech like smartwatches, new laptops, or anything else. They’ll all be coming, of course – but not yet.
So, what’s worth talking about for travellers who love their Apple gear?
The iPhone keyboard was heralded as a marvel when it first came out – and it hasn’t changed much since then. That’s all set to change in iOS 8, with a new “Quicktype” version making an appearance.
It will finally support predictive suggestions, which makes typing much faster than the old version. If you’re only travelling with an iPhone or iPad, replying to emails and sending messages should now be a lot less painful.
Like many existing Android keyboards, it will learn and make predictions based on what you’ve already typed, but it will also take into account who you’re communicating with.
That’s pretty cool. We all know that there’s a big difference between the way we chat to our mum versus how we talk to friends and lovers, and this new keyboard will understand that.
Much like the camera, third-party developers will now be able to access the underlying keyboard functions (and submit to the App Store). This means existing Android developers will undoubtedly move quickly across to iOS. Swiftkey on the iPhone? Yes please.
One of the biggest improvements for those who shoot a lot of pictures on their smartphones (or, heaven forbid, their iPads) is a new approach to photo syncing and backup to the cloud.
Up until now, the Photo Stream app has only allowed up to 1,000 photos, stored for a month. This was moderately useful when it came to syncing photos between devices, but useless for long-term backup.
It’ll be smarter, too, in that the full-size images can be stored in the cloud and smaller, optimised versions downloaded to each device.
There will also be a new Smart Editing feature allowing you crop, enhance and (of course) add filters to your photos. Out of the gate it won’t be much of a competitor to apps like Snapseed, but being built into the phone will see it getting plenty of use regardless. With all of those extra photos lying around, search has unsurprisingly been beefed up as well.
On a related note, more of the underlying camera features have been made available to developers. Expect to see better quality camera apps coming out from companies other than Apple in the future.
One of the more exciting features is aimed at people with several Apple devices. Named “Continuity”, it will connect iPhones, iPads and Mac computers on the same network together in innovative new ways.
You’ll be able to start a task on one device, then – with no extra effort – continue it on any other, switching backwards and forwards as often as you like.
For example: you’re writing an email on your iPad, but realise the photo you want to attach is still on your laptop. No problem – just stop typing the email on your iPad, pick it up on your Macbook and attach the photo, and hit send. Easy, and no more messing around emailing files to yourself.
The Airdrop feature, which allowed files to be copied between two iOS devices, has been extended to include MacOS computers too. Now you’ll be able to quickly copy files to and from all of your Apple gear, regardless of what operating system they’re running.
Continuity will even extend to phone calls – so if your phone rings in the other room, you can pick it up on your laptop or iPad. Placing calls and sending/receiving SMS will work in the same way.
If you don’t have any other Internet connection available, your phone will offer to become a hotspot using its cellular data. You can do this manually already, of course, but automating it makes the process even simpler.
This is undoubtedly just the tip of the iceberg with what we’ll see from Continuity, but it’s already off to an impressive start.
There are a few other, minor improvements too. There’s a better version of iMessage that includes voice messages and location sharing. Android-like interactive notifications will let you respond right from the status bar. You’ll also get a better, more multi-lingual version of Siri.
There’s a new Health app to track your fitness data, and the ability to link a family’s multiple Apple devices together for shared contacts and calendars. At last, there’ll also be an approval process when the kids try to buy yet more gold on Candy Crush Saga with their parent’s credit card.
That’s it, at least for now. While nothing truly revolutionary was announced at WWDC 2014, it was all useful stuff. Many tech-loving travellers will undoubtedly already be getting excited about what lies in store for their favourite devices. The countdown to iOS 8 starts now.
Do any of these features excite you? Which ones?
Images via Apple