Electronic Design
Image courtesy of Krlis Dambrns Flickr

(Image courtesy of Kārlis Dambrāns, Flickr).

What Can You Expect with the Latest Apple OS X and iOS Upgrades?

Apple gave a short answer and a long answer to that question on Monday at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

The short version is a more efficient interface and increased capabilities for managing applications within Apple devices. The long version takes a route through the pantheon of Apple devices and examines the software features that will optimize current applications.

While it focused most of its time and energy to showcase the new iOS, Apple also unveiled the latest operating system for Mac computers, OS X 9 El Capitan. Released to developers on Monday and expected for public beta in July, the system will introduce only slight refinements to the user interface, such as opening applications side by side in a split-screen view. In an attempt to draw in video-game developers, Apple also revealed that OS X 9 would support Metal, an application program interface that grants low-level access to graphics hardware.

For developers, Apple introduced the next version of its programming language for building Mac and iOS applications, Swift 2.0. It features better performance, a new error-handling API, and support for availability checking. Greater compatibility with Apple’s software development kit makes it possible to seamlessly incorporate the language into existing Objective-C code. Apple will make it an open-source code later this year.

The iOS platform will also support upgrades to the user interface, as well as leverage machine-learning algorithms to create more intuitive device feedback. To that end, Apple introduced Proactive Assistant, a service that will anticipate what you want based on geographical location, open applications, search history, and other factors. In the interests of privacy, however, this service will only access information from your device and not from the Cloud.

Apple unveiled several other applications that rely on machine-learning algorithms, including a music streaming service dubbed Apple Music and an application simply called News that will suggest articles from an archive of websites and native content based on what you have been reading lately.

Apple also said that software updates will extend iOS-device battery life to almost an hour longer than available with the current operating system. On top of that, a low-power mode will extend battery life up to three hours by restricting certain applications and services to the device.

The company also announced that its mobile payment service, Apple Pay, would be supported by four major credit-card companies and accepted at over one million locations by next month. It will support 70-80% of credit cards in the United Kingdom next month and be welcomed at over 250,000 locations.

On another front, the operating system of the newly released iWatch will be updated to enable email access, an alarm clock, messaging, and video and music features. In addition, the watch will be able to communicate with a remote iPhone as long as it is connected to the Internet. As far as applications are concerned, developers will be able to create “complications,” or widgets, that show updates and gauges on the watch face.

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