Apple's recent software announcements

On September 9th, Apple held an event where announced the latest iterations of some of its most popular devices worldwide—most notably the new iPhone 6S, which has become the star of the fall keynote.

While the hardware is what attracts the users en masse, the simplicity and power of the software keeps the entirety of Apple’s offerings highly coveted by consumers and businesses alike.

Further blurring the lines between the mythical (for some) work/life balance is the seamless connectivity between all the OSes powering Apple’s devices. It’s this essence that we’ll be reviewing, because the talented developers in Cupertino have provided a host of features, apps, and updates aimed squarely at resolving the needs of business users.

The changes in iOS 9 are less about additional functions and more about stability and efficiency. The OS update, which will be available September 12, is designed to streamline functionality altogether to provide a more powerful operating environment that runs at higher efficiency and on average has been known to increase the usable battery life by about an hour.

  • Performance:The size of iOS 9 is nearly 2/3 smaller, and this will benefit both older, less powerful devices and those with smaller storage capacities. It will free up more space to allow for more productivity through increased storage for apps.
  • Slide Over/Split View/Picture-in-Picture (iPad only):
    • Slide Over allows for the viewing of a second app as a side bar overlay while viewing the first app. This helps to check social media sites while sending email simultaneously.
    • Split View is a true multitask feature in that two apps may be open—side by side—on the same screen, which allows work to be done on both at the same time.
    • Picture-in-Picture allows users on a FaceTime call or viewing a product video to continue their video/chat while opening a second app. The resulting action will shrink the video to a small picture that is overlaid on the second app so as to not obstruct productivity on both fronts.
  • Two-Factor Authentication:Extending security is a necessity these days. All companies—from small to large—have information at stake that needs to be better protected on all fronts. With two-factor authentication baked right in to iOS and OS X, there’s no reason to let a lost device be the cause of a potentially damaging data leak for your organization.
  • iCloud Drive:While iCloud Drive was initially introduced with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, it’s been tweaked to provide increased support for applications and end-user data that’s stored within your iCloud account and accessible to Apple and non-Apple devices alike.
  • Notes:The Notes app has matured, bringing with it the ability to handwrite notes and take/embed pictures. Additionally, the creation of bulleted items and the ability to convert those bullets into actionable lists have been highly requested features from users.

The next version of OS X, available September 30, continues the trend toward a refining of the OS X experience—blending iOS usage sensibilities to make the most stable, simple-to-use, and high-performance version of Apple’s OS to date.

  • Split View:Like its iOS little brother, Split View works much the same, allowing two apps to be opened at the same time—side by side—for a full view of the workspace.
  • Mail:Apple Mail has improved full-screen support and added gestures for better management of your inbox messages. Also of note is the Suggestions feature that allows users to add events and contacts to the Calendar and Contacts apps, respectively, with the click of a button from the email app.
  • Safari:Aside from enhanced security, the popular browser now features added social media functionality and AirPlay sharing of web-based content.
  • Chinese and Japanese font support:Apple has always provided multi-language support in all OS X releases. Yet, the new Chinese and Japanese fonts aid in keyboard entry for these languages and provide for smoother readability onscreen as well. Input support, however, is not limited to just typing. Adding a Trackpad will also extend the enhanced features to handwriting.
  • Performance:Similar to iOS 9, OS X El Capitan is a minor upgrade in the sense that stability and performance enhancements play second fiddle to new, whiz-bang features and apps. However, added performance in the form of productivity, increased battery life, and better graphic performance is always welcome.

Apple TV has undergone both a hardware and software transformation. On the software side, several new possibilities will become open to developers in the creation of native apps, universal search capability, and a motion-sensitive remote, among others.

  • App Store:The Apple TV has been given its own OS, called tvOS that will allow for apps to be run natively from the entertainment hub. While unreleased as of yet (available in late October), the App Store is expected to contain software that can leverage the Apple TV’s multimedia capabilities, such as video sharing and collaboration.
  • SDK:Utilizing frameworks similar to those found in iOS, Apple TV’s SDK will be used in the creation of apps that will run exclusively on the device with ample developer support.

Apple Watch users have flocked to the wearable tech by the millions. With excellent battery life and near seamless connectivity with a paired iPhone, watchOS as it exists currently must run apps from a Bluetooth-connected device, as the processing data is offloaded on the iPhone’s CPU. Yet with watchOS 2, available on September 16, several changes are in store for the wearable, which will change how the device is used going forward.

  • Native apps:Aside from the Watch functionality itself, no other native apps ship with watchOS. However, it won’t be lonely for much longer, because Apple is adding support for native applications to be run right from the Apple Watch in watchOS 2. Additional opportunities will exist with the inclusion of many new APIs, which developers will gain access to when developing native apps.
  • Activation Lock:With security being as great as focus as it has been in the last couple of years, it seems like a natural order of progression to enable Activation Lock—the popular theft-deterrent mechanism found in iOS and OS X—to protecting watchOS 2 devices from loss.
  • Email management:The Apple Watch is already capable of receiving email, but now replies to emails will be possible. Users will also be able to better manage their inbox with with ability to delete and flag messages while they’re on the go, right from their wrist.
  • Time Travel:Featuring a combination of the Apple Watch hardware and watchOS 2, peppered with some of Apple’s forward thinking, Time Travel is now possible! Well, somewhat. The idea behind Time Travel relies on scheduled tasks and appointments, along with the Digital Crown, which—when rotated forward or backward—will scroll through your schedule to highlight each event in the order that they are occurring to provide an outlook of day ahead (or behind you, if rotating backwards).
  • Complications: This is an odd one, because the tech industry never wants to ever hear the word “complications.” But, in this case, it’s actually a good thing. Complications are the Apple Watch equivalent to notifications as they pertain to apps data that can all be culled together on one screen, similar to how the Notifications pane in iOS lists bite-sized pieces of information on one clutter-free screen to assess what’s important.

The next month promises to be very interesting for Apple users. What changes are you most excited to see? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

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What Apple's recent software announcements mean for business