This fall comes the release of iOS 8 from Apple, which they are advertising as “the world’s most advanced mobile operating system.” Technological advancements include easier access to the user’s cloud-based photo album, additional texting capabilities to include voice and video, and bolder design initiating easier response notifications. Each of these OS updates are enhancements on what is already available on the current OS, yet Apple consistently strives to enhance the user’s experience by simplifying the touch-screen movements necessary to move from one application to the next. However, it is the incorporation of the new Health app that raises a level of anticipation in the health-conscience consumer.
One of the hottest consumer items in 2013 was the Fitness Tracker, a device a user wears to track certain personal health statistics. As a user of one of these devices, I have enjoyed the capabilities but have found the accessibility of the data to be cumbersome. Apple, with its new Health app and HealthKit (a new tool for developers), will provide a much-needed update in how users can access their health-related data. This new application also provides the ability to share user-chosen information with doctors, fitness professionals, or nutritionists to make better-informed decisions in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The vision of Steve Jobs was to create products which thrive in their own technological ecosystem. For those who work on several Apple products, we have come to depend on their cross-functionality. To be able to access the same files from the iPhone, iPad, or the iMac has increased the productivity of many Apple users. With the coming release of iOS 8 that functionality only increases with Handoff. When signed onto the same iCloud account, Handoff enables users to continue the same work from any Apple device. Handoff will also be available to developers for use in new applications as well.
With Handoff also comes a basic capability that we might take for granted. I personally know the frustration of leaving my phone in one room, the iPad in another room, while working from my iMac in my home office. With Handoff, when a call comes in and I’m not near my phone, I will now have the accessibility to answer that call from any of my Apple devices as long as they are on the same Wi-Fi network and updated with iOS 8. Such an enhancement increases the user’s ability to stay in contact with family, friends, clients, and business associates without being tethered to a single Apple device. This accessibility also includes the shared capacity for text messages as well.
To reiterate, Apple designs its products to enhance the user’s ability to access the device’s functionality. With Spotlight, Apple users can run a query without accessing Google or Bing to provide local news, Wikipedia profiles, iBooks and iTunes content, and localized searches for restaurants and cinema showtimes. Siri also gets an update to provide users the ability to purchase content from iBooks and iTunes through voice request. If you’ve ever wanted to purchase a song or audiobook while driving on the interstate, you know how nice such a capability is.
With iOS 8 Apple is continuing to increase the legitimacy and breadth of their ecosystem by creating functional applications and a clever user interface that emboldens the Apple user to increase their dependency on Apple products and their content stores. Perhaps the most anticipated development for iOS 8 is what will be available in their app store in the coming months. Apple’s OS update extends the capabilities for app developers to create products with which users will become dependent upon. Some of these advancements have been touched upon, but further enhancements include the support of devices in your home through HomeKit, increasing the reliance on iCloud through CloudKit, and increased capabilities of their Touch ID and useful tools such as the iPhone and iPad’s camera functionality.
Although there has been no announcement (yet) of a new Apple device, the enhancements of iOS 8 appear to increase the ability of users to access the full power and productivity in Apple’s line of products through cross-functionality and their desire to increase the simplicity of the user’s Apple experience.