WWDC '14: Leapfrogging the competition

Once a year, Apple’s hosts the World Wide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, and the opening keynote address is the executive team’s opportunity to show off the year’s upcoming new software. As expected, we learned much about iOS and OS X (the operating systems for iPhone/iPad and the Mac). What was not expected was the overwhelming tsunami of features soon to hit this fall. It seemed like with each minute of the keynote, it was Christmas all over again. It was busy.

I watched the keynote at home on my Apple TV and was amazed to see how Apple is now raising the bar for their devices. We are finally entering an era where iCloud truly harmonizes each of its three pillars: iPhone, iPad, and Mac. No longer is iCloud regulated to just syncing contacts and documents – it now syncs workflow.

I’m not going to list all the items Apple introduced yesterday. If you have a few moments, you’d be better served by traversing Apple’s website.

But, there is one feature I want to discuss now. It’s called Continuity. In my opinion, this is the prime example of the excellence and uniqueness of Apple. Continuity allows the user to have a seamless experience as they move between their Apple devices. It recognizes which device is being actively used and which devices are close at hand. Here are some examples of Continuity at work:

  • Answer & make cell phone calls from a Mac or iPad
  • Reply to SMS messages (green chat bubbles) from Mac or iPad
  • Instantly tether a Mac to an iPhone's data connection
  • AirDrop files locally and quickly between Mac and iOS
  • Handoff an active document from one device to another (E.G. Start composing an email message on one device, but move to another to seamlessly pick up where you left off.)

Each one of these items could be discussed at length. For those of us who use several Apple devices, Continuity will change the way in which we work. Whether that be simply by answering your iPhone with your Mac, or moving between iPad and Mac as you work on the same Pages document, Continuity will be an awesome addition.

Only Apple can pull off something like Continuity because they control every bit of the software and hardware ecosystem. How in the world would an Android phone have this level of integration with a Windows PC? The answer would require cooperation between Google who makes the Android operating system, Samsung who makes most Android devices, Microsoft who makes Windows, and HP who makes the computer. The biggest bottleneck is the fact that only 9% of Android devices running the current version of the OS. It will be years before this kind of tight unity is available to normal consumers. Apple users dwell in luxury and will receive these updates for free after the summer.

Rick Stawarz

Minneapolis, MN

I am an Apple Certified Support Professional with over a decade of experience supporting families, schools, and businesses. Tech has always captured my imagination, but it's not my only passion. I'm an ordained Anglican minister;  Aeropress is a daily ritual of mine; I've driven across Mongolia; and I'm the father of three girls. I hope to provide for you a balanced and realistic perspective into the practicality of technology.