There is no such thing as finished software
The Worldwide Developers Conference in America for the Apple developers recently happened and they told us about the new operating system for OS X and for iOS. We’d better not forget there is also the new operating system for the Apple Watch coming. Usually with the update to the operating system in the past I have been quite excited to hear what is coming. There have often been marvellous features annnounced with the promise of making my life easier in one way or another. This time with El Capitan it was all a little bit underwhelming. I didn’t get to see the keynote live, but there wasn’t much that’s really jumped out and bit me on the bottom with regards to what’s coming up new. In OSX there is the new windowing system which will allow you to put windows to one side of the screen or the other. I can do that already with software I already use on the operating system. The other thing that was featured was the enlargement of the cursor or mouse pointer when you twiddle your finger around on the trackpad. When you have a large screen and a high definition setting it is handy to be able to find where the cursor has gone to. Once again I was already able to do this with some third-party free software. Even so, it will be great for the middle aged and sight challenged of the tech world.
Natural Language Searching
For a few years now it is been quite handy to use natural language within the application Fantastical. That sort of word usage for searching is becoming available within Spotlight. There are many people wondering why it is not coming with Siri for the Mac at the same time. You can fill the text in using the built-in voice to text, but it is not quite the same as having the Siri artificial intelligence assistant. So unless you have DragonDictate installed you won’t be able to use your voice to open applications. It seems to be going in the right direction though and there is the possibility that Siri will at some point in time arrive on your Mac.
The split screen on iOS to use on the iPad
I do have the latest version of the iPad which has a powerful processor and is able to take advantage of this split screen windowing. I am not quite sure about how useful this is going to be if I need to have two things on the screen at one time or not. What I have done up until now is to use a second iOS device, my iPhone, if I needed to have something else in front of me at the same time. One of the features of the iOS Split screen is to see video at the same time as you’re working on something else. He’s also going to possible to do a picture in picture so you can have the video playing out of the way while you are working on something else. So goodbye productivity!
Apple Watch iOS 2
Apple are making it so that you can have more than 12 friends in the section where you are able to make contact with messages and the phone app. I don’t have many friends so I was okay with having just 12 anyway. Seriously though, that will be a useful addition to the Apple Watch.
The big thing about the watch is the addition of a development kit for the software developers to make native third-party applications for the Apple Watch. Having non-native access to applications which will only work by connecting to the iPhone, for the most part doesn’t work very well. There are one or two applications that work fast enough, but most of them struggle to bring the information to the user of the watch. Many times when using one of these applications I just run out of patience and close the application to do something else instead. This has been because the application hasn’t give me the information before the screen goes blank in order to save battery usage on the watch.
The big music announcement
Although I have in the past been a big fan of listening to new music, these days I have to admit to being not so bothered. I prefer to listen to stories from books using the Kindle app or to various podcasts. This sort of listening is often more entertaining for me than music. Mind you, that doesn’t include many of the Mac news based podcast which all say the same thing and are starting to get very boring.
Getting Proactive with Siri
I did have some experience using Google Now and it looks like Apple are coming up with something similar. It is going to be called Proactive. The way it will work is that Siri will take note of the things you do and when you do them and offer you suggestions within your home screen. So it might put a contact name into your home screen if you regularly call a certain person at certain times. This seems like a good idea to make using iOS much more useful and easier and I’m looking forward to seeing what it can do. We won’t really know how useful Proactive with Siri is going to be until we actually get using it.
The new News application for iOS
This application is starting to look interesting as it is making it easier for publishers to get the digital media into publication. I have already signed up and had my application accepted for an account, even though it is not going to be usable mainstream until the autumn. The ease comes from being able to add RSS feeds. So anything I publish on my blog sites can go directly into the News application this seems to be easier than using Flipboard. With Flipboard you have to do is one post at a time which is a little bit tedious.
Coming soon is the Apple News format and I’m not sure that’s going to be a new application or ability to export out of either iBooks Author or more likely Pages. The good thing about it is that you are able to get a magazine type feel to your articles, making it easier to read for your readers. Apple will be selling advertising and publishers will get 70% of the income from those adverts. You can also sell your own advertising and you get the full amount. How good this is going to be will depend upon whether users will use the News application or if they will hide it as they do with the present Newsstand application.
Public transport in maps
This won’t make any difference to me because Barcelona is not included in the list of cities included for this addition. If I make a visit to London or to one of 300 places in China then I will be golden.
Improvements to the Notes app
It seems as though Apple are trying to keep up with Evernote and Microsoft One Note and finally improving the Notes application. I don’t think it will do as much as those other two applications still. Even so, it is welcome to have improvements to the application that it might just give it the edge into making it an application I would use. I do prefer to have a pure text app for simple note taking, Notes will have a layer of formatting as default. For collecting notes out of web pages, which is how I use Evernote then Notes could fill that niche.
I’m looking forward to seeing the new text selection and movement of the cursor facilities within iOS. You have to just put two fingers onto the keyboard and it turns the keyboard into a trackpad. It looks like it is going to be easier to move the cursor around the screen which will be good. Somehow or other you are also able to use the two fingers to select text. I find that the magnifying glass we have at the moment for positioning the cursor is not always working properly for me. It was one of the things that I moved back to Apple for, because it was better than the way of doing it in Android.
So how interesting and exciting is El Capitan?
As geeks, nerds and lovers of technology we are always delighted when our favourite fruit company gives us new stuff in the form of hardware or software. Whether it is something completely new that adds to our lives that we didn’t know we needed, or some sort of automation that brings together what we have already, this is what we love. At first glance at the information coming from WW DC this year is all seems a bit, ho-hum. Splitting windows and arranging them on OS X is not particularly exciting as neither is the growing closer to help you find it if your eyesight is bad. The splitting of the screen within iOS will be useful for some people with the larger iPads and will benefit quite a few people.
The new thing that is possibly the most interesting is the Proactive feature which will be the rival to Google Now. This could have been highlighted and talked about more within the keynote although it is probably the most difficult to explain and to demonstrate. With Proactive the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
In the Safari application you have the pinning of webpages to top of the screen. It’s not much different from having bookmarks and is a minor change that will not produce earth-shattering changes in ways of working when browsing. The other addition to Safari was the ability to shut down audio in a tab which has suddenly started up and is annoying. Now it is just going to be easier to get rid of the noise a little quicker and easier.