For the past several years, Apple has made its annual Mac OS X updates available as free or nearly free downloads from its Mac App Store. This year is no different and the version released earlier this month, 10.10 Yosemite, contains a boatload of enhancements for those who live in the Apple ecosystem.
The primary mantra coming from Apple recently, espoused most forcefully by CEO Tim Cook, is the idea that “Only Apple” could do certain things because of the integration of hardware and software across multiple device types. This idea was a core message that Cook and Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, promoted at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. iOS 8 and Mac OS Yosemite are the beginning of this new, tighter integration. Let’s discuss some of these enhancements:
Handoff is a feature of iOS 8 and Yosemite that takes advantage of the fact that our electronic devices are always aware of what we’re doing on them. Handoff lets your workflow move seamlessly from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac and back again. If you begin composing an email or writing a note on your iPhone, you can put down your iPhone, and pick up your iPad or Mac and the devices prompts you to continue where you left off. While this works mostly with Apple’s apps currently, it is open to developers to add to their apps. I personally am looking forward my favorite text app, Byword, adding this capability to its iOS and Mac apps.
For those times when you’re somewhere without public wifi or when you want a connection more secure than public wireless, your cellular-connected iDevices can communicate with your Mac to create an instant hotspot. The idea of using a cellular device as a hotspot is old hat, but being able to do so configuration-free among your Apple devices is a great benefit to having both iOS 8 and Yosemite. To access the feature, just drop-down on the wifi item in your Mac menubar and select your iPhone or cellular-enabled iPad as your hotspot.
This is a feature that has lived independently on Macs and iDevices for some time. It allows you to share files with other Macs and iDevices with zero configuration networking. The devices magically “find” each other and instantly allow the two computers or iDevices to transfer data between them. Until iOS 8 and Yosemite, the two platforms operated independently and could not talk to each other. With these newest releases, the barrier between iOS and Mac has been eliminated and you can now transfer documents, pictures, and other data freely, wirelessly between iOS and Macs, as long as the two devices are on the network.
The final major interoperability feature between iOS 8 and Yosemite is the ability to make phone calls from your Mac via a wireless connection to your iPhone. For those of you with office VOIP systems or other so-called “soft-phone”, software-based phones, this is not new. However, for smaller firms and just for household use, it’s a great convenience to be able to make speakerphone calls from your Mac and not have to hustle across the room or down the hall to retrieve a ringing cell phone when you can answer it directly from the computer or iPad you’re working on at the time of the call.