Apple introduces OS X 10.10 and iOS 8

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Apple introduces OS X 10.10 and iOS 8

Opens APIs to developers.

Apple released two operating systems today at the company's Worldwide Developer Conference 2014 in San Fransciso, unveiling OS X 10.10 and iOS 8.

Code-named Yosemite, OS X 10.10 has been given several interface tweaks for consistency and ease of use such such as the app window controls now being in one place, and the maximise button being replaced with full-screen mode.

While Apple didn't reveal many details about the underpinnings of OS X 10.10, the company's vice-president of software engineering Craig Federighi said the redesign and built-in apps had been engineered to work with the iOS mobile operating system.

To this end, Federighi demonstrated features such as 'Handoff' - which allows users to start tasks on iPhones or iPads and finish them on Macs (or vice versa) as long as they are in proximity to each other.

Other feature integrations include an updated Messages app that displays SMS texts and MMS multimedia messages on all of a person's Apple devices, not just iPhones. OS X can now also send SMS/MMS messages directly, as well as making and receiving iPhone calls directly from the computer.

The new iCloud Drive cloud storage feature built-into the Finder file management in OS X 10.10 is also available on iOS 8, and lets users share files between the two operating systems.

A new notification centre, featuring widgets downloadable from the App Store, comes with a unified 'Today' view, presenting calendar, weather, reminders, social media and other information in one place.

The built-in Spotlight search function has been updated and now provides results from internet properties such as Microsoft's Bing search engine, the App Store, iTunes, and iBooks stores as well as major websites.

Safari, the built-in web browser for OS X, gets a new Nitro Javascript engine that Apple claims is five times as fast as Google Chrome and six times quicker than Mozilla Firefox.

It also boasts support for WebGL graphics and the SPDY page loading performance protocol, as well as HTML 5 Premium Video Extensions digital rights management technology.

OS X 10.10 is available as a developer preview only, with the final version to be released via the Mac App Store later this year. Apple has also set up an early-access beta program for users wanting to try out OS X 10.10 who don't have developer accounts.

iOS 8: Interface enhancements, new APIs

Apple's mobile operating system also gets a makeover with iOS 8. The new mobile OS includes long-awaited improvements to the QuickType keyboard, with better predictive typing that now suggests entire phrases as it learns how users communicate - in 14 different languages.

For the first time, third-party keyboards will also be available in iOS, a feature that Google Android has offered for several years.

Enterprise customers can look forward to enhanced mobile device management and security features in iOS 8, as well as a greater level of data protection for some built-in apps.

New productivity features are also bundled with iOS 8, such as availability or presence notifications for meeting scheduling, configurable thread notifications in mail, and the aiblity to set out-of-office responses.

Users can also act on notifications such as meeting invites from the iOS lock screen, and these are also enhanced elsewhere in the operating system, obviating the need to go the apps in question.

A new Health app that integrates with Nike+ and other vendors' apps and fitness devices debuts in iOS 8, but Apple did not release the expected iWatch wrist device with the sensors to enable it.

The Messages app in iOS 8 now features soundclips and videos, and easy location sharing.

Apple has also released a beta program for iOS 8 to developers, including a a new software development kit (SDK) that features the new, C-like Swift programming language and 4000 new application programming interfaces (APIs).

Of the APIs, the Touch ID fingerprint recognition can now be used by third party apps for the first time, and a new HomeKit home automation interface lets developers create apps that will let users control lights and heating, for example, with the Siri voice recognition feature.

A new graphics technology aimed at speeding up gaming, Metal, is also released with iOS 8. This is aimed at newer devices with the 64-bit A7 processor, and Apple said it will enable developers to create console-class 3D games to for its devices.

iOS 8  will run on iPhone 4S and newer phones, as well as iPod Touch 5Gen, and iPad 2 onwards, to be delivered as a free upgrade this southern hemisphere winter.

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