This Week @ MacsWest
Teaching, Helping, Learning and Having Fun! 

• Monday, September 22
    Well, we’re back to having nothing to do on Mondays.

• Tuesday, September 23
    11:30 AM – Program Committee Meeting, Room C    
    1:00 PM –  iPad Q&A Session, hosted by Mary Kocha, Palo Verde Room, until 2:00 PM

• Wednesday, September 24
    10:00 AM – Getting Started on the iPad, a new service from MacsWest. See below for a full description of this valuable service for new iPad owners. Room C

• Thursday, September 25
    Nothing Scheduled

• Friday, September 26
     1:00 PM — Regular Meeting: Sharon Service is the CW Monitor Chair. She will demonstrate the ins and outs of monitoring for CW. Palo Verde Room, until 2:00 PM

• Saturday, September 27
    
Nothing Scheduled  

OS X Yosemite Preview: 5 Features to Get Excited About

Apple iMacs and MacBooks are set to get a big upgrade in the coming months in the form of a new operating system. OS X Yosemite, the follow-up to OS X Mavericks, is a massive update to Apple’s operating system that not only gives the software a new, more attractive design, but also adds a boatload of features.

The update, which will be available for free when it launches later this fall, also blurs some of the lines between Apple’s desktop OS and its iOS mobile operating system — though not nearly as much as Microsoft’s Windows 8, which can switch from a desktop-based to a tablet-friendly interface on the same computer.

You’ll even be able to make phone calls from your Mac with your connected iPhone.

There are a lot of great additions to Yosemite, but a handful of the operating system’s features stand out. These are the top five features of OS X Yosemite (so far):

1. Improved design.
Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 7, was a major departure from previous versions in terms of design. Apple is adopting some of these design cues into this new desktop operating system.

OS X Yosemite Preview: 5 Features to Get Excited About

Icons in the dock at the bottom of the home screen have a leaner, less three-dimensional design, similar to those found in iOS 7. Even the Share button in Safari looks the same as iOS 7’s Share button. The operating system also has a new, crisper typeface that’s easier to read.

A big part of Yosemite’s new design is its translucent window effect. The feature gives everything, from the Dock to Finder windows to Safari’s command bar, a kind of frosted-glass look that’s somewhat reminiscent of the Aero design found in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

OS X Yosemite windows

2. Notification Center.
The Notification Center in the current version of the OS, Mavericks, doesn’t offer much in the way of functionality beyond providing you with recent message and iTunes updates. But that’s all changing with OS X Yosemite and its new Today view.

OS X Yosemite Today view

Accessible through the Notification Center, Today provides you with customizable widgets including a summary of today’s and tomorrow’s events, current weather conditions, your calendar, stocks, and the ability to post to social networks.

A few of Today’s features were previously available in OS X Mavericks’ dashboard, but Apple brought them over to Today to make them more easily accessible. And if Today looks familiar, it’s because it’s a dead ringer for iOS’s Notification Center.

Once Yosemite is available for download, Apple says, more Today view widgets will be available, too, further improving the usefulness of the Notification Center.

3. Spotlight search.
OS X’s Spotlight search also gets a considerable upgrade with Yosemite. In previous versions of OS X, Spotlight was capable of performing only local searches of your computer. With Yosemite, however, Spotlight can search not only your Mac, but the Web as well.

OS X Yosemite Spotlight search

If, for example, you search for a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy, a Spotlight search will provide you with showtimes for the movie at nearby theaters, a plot summary, trailers, the cast and crew, and even its score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Search for a contact’s name, and Spotlight will automatically populate with the person’s information, including her phone number and email address.

Want a bite to eat? Type in your favorite food, and Spotlight will pull up the names and locations of nearby restaurants. You can also look for things like famous public figures: Spotlight will pull up a Wikipedia entry with information on them.

Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 offers a similar feature called Smart Search. It looks like Yosemite’s version will be easier to use.

4. iCloud Drive.
Apple’s cloud storage service, iCloud has long taken a backseat to the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive. They are easy to use and make sharing a snap, too. With Yosemite, though, iCloud may become your cloud drive of choice. That’s because Apple is finally treating iCloud like a normal storage drive.

OS X Yosemite iCloud Drive

You can now access your iCloud Drive through OS X’s Finder, just like you work with your local drive. You can even organize the drive any way you want and create new subfolders that are accessible through other iCloud Drive-compatible devices. So you can save your photos, videos, and any other files on your MacBook and open them on your iMac at the office.

5. Mail.
OS X’s Mail has gotten some serious enhancements with Yosemite, too. The app’s new Markup tool lets you annotate and edit images and text within Mail without forcing you to open a new program. You can, for example, add highlights and shapes to photos and even sign documents using your MacBook’s touchpad.

OS X Yosemite image editing

That’s not all, though. Mail also makes it easier to send large files with its new Mail Drop feature. Mail Drop works by making your sent files accessible to your recipients via their iCloud accounts. If they don’t use iCloud, then Mail Drop will send them a link where they can download the sent files.

It’s a simple addition but one that will likely prove useful to people sending groups of images or videos.

Bonus feature we’re really waiting for: iOS 8 continuity
One of the biggest draws of OS X Yosemite will be its interoperability with Apple’s upcoming mobile operating systemiOS 8. Rather than existing in two separate worlds, the two operating systems will be able to talk to each other, letting you do things like make and receive phone calls, and send texts, from your Mac through your iPhone.

Mac laptop, iPad, and iPhone

Working on a Pages document on your Mac? If your iPad or iPhone is nearby, you can pick up where you left off on your mobile device. You can do the same thing with Mail, Safari, Messages, Maps, and other OS X apps.

Using your iPhone as a WiFi hotspot will also be easier with Yosemite. If your wireless data plan lets you use your iPhone as a hotspot, then your Mac will automatically detect that your handset is nearby and treat it like any other hotspot.

OS X Yosemite will be out later this fall as a free upgrade. It will run on Most Macs and MacBooks dating as far back as 2009 and some iMacs from 2007. Check Apple’s website for further compatibility details.

Email Daniel at 

dhowley(_AT_)yahoo-inc.com
; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley or on Google+ here.

Apple TV gets Beats Music streaming and a flatter look

Beats Music on Apple TV

Your iPad or iPhone isn't the only device getting a big iOS upgrade today. Apple is now rolling out an Apple TV update that brings not just iOS 8-savvy features like iCloud Photo and Family Sharing, but a flatter-looking interface on third-generation devices -- yes, that previous super-glossy look has gone the way of the dodo. If you're using that newer hardware in the US, you'll also see a Beats Music app that lets you stream on-demand tunes during a living room party. The refresh isn't going to get you any closer to that long-rumored TV set, especially if you're still stuck on a second-gen Apple TV box, but it's welcome all the same.

 

Apple Inc's new iPads, OS X Yosemite to be launched at Oct. 21 event: report | Financial Post

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The tech world is still recovering from the explosive launch of Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone 6 models and the announcement of Apple Watch.  Before the world has a chance to recover; Apple has dropped another bomb on technology enthusiasts. It is being rumored that Apple has confirmed the date for its iPad launch. According to reports from Apple Insider and The Daily Dot, October 21 has been pegged as the launch date for the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 as well.

The news does come as a surprise. Especially since only two weeks ago Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, made the iconic announcement of the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch. The iPhone 6 received 4 million pre-orders on the first day of its release and analysts estimated that its sales had gone up to 10 million by the end of the first weekend. The Apple Watch that is set for release next year is already threatening to give competition to Swiss watch manufacturers, who have been controlling the wrist watch market for more than two centuries.

However, the launch is not entirely unprecedented. Apple usually launches the next iteration of its iPad a month after the launch of its new iPhone. Apple’s last iPad was launched on October 22, 2013. This means if the rumored date of the launch is true, the event will happen exactly one year after the last Apple iPad was launched.

The iPad Air 2, according to Bloomberg, will have a 9.7-inch screen and the iPad mini is expected to have a 7.9-inch screen. Both iPads are not expected to have any major design changes. It is expected that the iPads will be upgraded with a new 64-bit A8 chip besides having better cameras. They might also feature a fingerprint sensor unlike previous iPads.

Apple is also likely to coincide the launch of its new iPad with that of its new Operating System (OS) OS X Yosemite. Yosemite is the successor to the Mac's previous operating system, OS X Mavericks, which was also launched simultaneously with the iPad Air.

There is also a chance of two other exciting product announcements at the rumored event next month. These include the possible unveiling of a 12.9-inch iPad and a Macbook Air laptop with Retina display.

Apple Watch Marks Apple’s Transformation Into a Luxury Fashion Retailer | TIME

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Apple Watch are displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. The Asahi Shimbun—Getty Images

The entire shopping experience will change radically

LinkedIn Influencer Charlene Li published this post originally on LinkedInFollow Charlene on LinkedIn.

While most of the tech and business press focused on the functionality of the Apple Watch (digital crown, battery life, taptic engine, yadda yadda…) discreetly milling around the event were the fashion press, invited by Apple’s new fashion and design team. The fact that Apple Watch comes in three distinct collections — Apple Watch, Sport, and Apple Watch Edition — mirrors how fashion targets different demographics and tastes with separate lines.

To date, merely owning an Apple iPhone or iPad says something about who you are. With only a few choices on colors (black, white, neon, etc.), the only way you could customize Apple products to suit your style was to entomb their beauty with covers and cases. These items lived in the back of the store, hung up as general merchandise and an add-on to the core experience of the products.

But with Apple Watch, Apple now has to change the shopping experience as well — and not just sell a luxury product but also create a luxury fashion experience. When Apple Watch launches next year, look for former CEO Angela Ahrendts to make her mark as the new head of Apple Store. Here’s the challenge — Apple Watch will launch with 3 collections, 2 sizes, and 6 bands styles in 18 colors, 2 sizes = 108 permutations of Apple Watch. An entire section of the store will be dedicated to people not just looking at the watches, but also looking at it on themselves. New salespeople will have to be hired — people who understand both technology and fashion. If you get a chance, go visit a Burberry store and marvel at the level of attention and discretion that is paid to you as you shop. Part of the fashion buying experience is knowing when to step forward and help — and also when to step back and wait.

The breakthrough of Apple Watch isn’t in its form or function — but the fact that wearable technology for the first time is truly being treated as a fashion item. I’ve been buying alternative holders and bracelets for my FitBit on Etsy, in a desperate attempt to marry my fitness and fashion goals — and left wholly unsatisfied with the experience. I’m looking forward to buying the Apple Watch — the actual act of buying it as I would an expensive purse or pair of shoes. When would I wear it? What image do I want to be sending when I’m wearing the watch — or not wearing it?

The Apple Watch is still in its 1.0 origins and it has a long way to go before it becomes a beautiful, desired item. And that’s a good thing, because Apple will need time to transform itself into the truly luxury fashion retailer and brand that it wants to be. At stake is Apple’s business model — Android will always be the low-cost leader so Apple has to continually deliver a premium experience to deserve the premium price it demands. I look forward to parting with a serious chunk of cash next year — but only if Apple Watch matches my new spring wardrobe.

Charlene Li is the Founder and CEO of Altimeter Group.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus: The world’s best phones for wireless and LTE connectivity

iPhone 6 with LTE

With every release of the iPhone, Apple dramatically improves the wireless radio capabilities in ways that no other device maker has ever matched. With the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple continues that trend, setting the bar even higher than ever before.

These new iPhones continue the fast-follower status for non-cellular connectivity by now offeringWiFi 802.11ac in addition to dual-band WiFi a/b/g/n that it offered in previous generations. Like the previous generation, Bluetooth 4.0 is supported, too. NFC with a secure element is new too, enabling Apple Pay and other mobile payment platforms (such as Softcard and Google Wallet). For cellular connectivity, Apple has rolled out two models for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (one of which that has both FDD and TDD variants of LTE), as opposed to the iPhone 5S and 5C which both had five hardware models each (initially four, but earlier this year, China Mobile got a special set for itself).

extremetech-iphone6-wireless

The doozy of cellular network support

Apple’s iPhone 6 (Models A1549 and A1586) and iPhone 6 Plus (Models A1522 and A1524) both support four-band GSM, five-band CDMA2000, five-band UMTS (with HSPA+42 support), andsixteen LTE FDD bands (with support for up to 150Mbps of download speeds). The quad-band GSM and pent-band UMTS provide complete global coverage for GSM and UMTS/HSPA+ networks all over the world. The five CDMA2000 bands enable coverage on all CDMA carriers in the US (who use ESMR, Cellular 850MHz, AWS 1.7+2.1 GHz, and PCS 1.9GHz for CDMA), as well as KDDI in Japan (who use Cellular 850MHz and IMT 2.1GHz for CDMA) and China Telecom in China (who use Cellular 850MHz for CDMA). These bands are the same as the American Sprint model for the iPhone 5S and 5C.

For LTE FDD, the iPhones support a full mix of bands for every region. LTE bands 1 (IMT 2.1GHz), 3 (DCS 1.8GHz), 5 (Cellular 850MHz), 7 (IMT-E 2.6GHz FDD), 8 (Cellular 900MHz), 20 (EU 800MHz), and 28 (APT 700MHz) are supported to provide the full range of access to LTE FDD networks throughout Europe, Asia, and Brazil. LTE bands 2 (PCS A-F blocks 1.9GHz), 4 (AWS-1 1.7+2.1GHz), 5 (Cellular 850MHz), 7 (IMT-E 2.6GHz FDD), 13 (US Upper 700MHz C block), 17 (US Lower 700MHz B+C blocks), 25 (PCS A-G blocks 1.9GHz), 26 (ESMR+Cellular 850MHz), 28 (APT 700MHz), and 29 (US Lower 700MHz Supplemental Downlink) offer nearly full access to LTE FDD networks throughout the Americas. Japanese LTE bands 18 (ESMR+Cellular 850MHz subset) and 19 (Cellular 850MHz subset) are intended to enable KDDI and NTT DoCoMo’s low-band networks, while band 28 sits in the wings for future 700MHz LTE network rollouts by KDDI, DoCoMo, and SoftBank.

 

The fact that band 29 is supported indicates that the iPhone supports LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation, since band 29 (as a supplemental downlink band) cannot be used without being paired with bands 2 or 4. AT&T in the US, and Bell & Telus in Canada control band 29 spectrum. They would love having the ability to aggregate it with their LTE FDD networks. Bell and Telus also control spectrum in band 13, which means that the iPhones can take advantage of Bell and Telus’ multi-band 700MHz network once it is fully deployed.

Curiously enough, LTE band 12 (US Lower 700MHz A-C blocks) is not supported. This omission is a bit strange, given that this is the second year that both U.S. Cellular (the largest owner of Lower 700MHz A block spectrum) and T-Mobile US (the new second-largest owner of Lower 700MHz A block spectrum) have carried the iPhone. Depending on what components are in the radio chain for the iPhone, this may turn out to be a software-based block. If a component like theSkyworks SKY77806 front-end module is used, then there is no hardware restriction, just a software one. Until teardowns of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are available, we will not know for sure. Hopefully, these iPhones will be the last to perpetuatethe Lower 700MHz interoperability problem.

Models A1586 (iPhone 6) and A1524 (iPhone 6 Plus) extend the cellular capabilities to support both TD-SCDMA bands used by China Mobile (TD-SCDMA 1900 and 2000) and LTE TDD bands 38 (IMT-E 2.6GHz TDD), 39 (IMT 1.9GHz TDD), 40 (2.3GHz TDD), and 41 (Expanded TDD 2.6GHz). Bands 38 and 40 are in use (or going to be used) throughout Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Band 39 is used in China, and may soon also be in use in Europe, since most mobile network operators throughout Europe have some band 39 spectrum. Band 41 is used by Sprint in the US for its Spark network (using Clearwire spectrum), all three operators in China (China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom), and KDDI and SoftBank in Japan.

For Sprint, this is a huge deal. These iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the first so-called “tri-band” devices for the company, and the substantially improved performance of band 41 combined with the expanded coverage of band 26 will provide substantial benefits for iPhone-using Sprint customers.

New communications capabilities

However, the most interesting aspect of the new iPhones is the support for VoLTE. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are the first phones to support Verizon’s VoLTE, and will support VoLTE on T-Mobile and AT&T in the US; KT, SK Telecom, and LG U+ in South Korea; Hutchinson Telecom (branded “3”), CSL and SmarTone in Hong Kong; and StarHub in Singapore. This will enable Verizon customers to completely avoid CDMA — and like all Verizon LTE phones, the Verizon iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be sold unlocked. This also means that iPhones sold by AT&T and T-Mobile can also be unlocked and brought over to Verizon and get the full range of service now. Verizon VoLTE is supported in the iPhone 6/6 Plus sold by AT&T and T-Mobile, just as AT&T and T-Mobile VoLTE is supported on the Verizon iPhone 6/6 Plus. Though it is technically possible to backport VoLTE to earlier LTE-enabled iPhones, it appears Apple will not be doing so.

All the mobile operators offering VoLTE on the iPhones at launch

All the mobile operators offering VoLTE on the iPhones at launch

Apple is also introducing WiFi Calling with iOS 8, and unlike VoLTE, this will be available with earlier iPhones with the iOS 8 update. However, with the newest iPhones, WiFi Calling will also have handover capability with cellular and back. This allows for seamless usage of cellular or WiFi to support voice calls. This capability is going to be offered with iPhones running on T-Mobile in the US and EE in the UK. Both companies have long histories with WiFi calling, so this isn’t very surprising.

Conclusion

As always, Apple aims to please and exceed. And as always, Apple over-delivers with its new iPhones. It is very clear that Apple has more than delivered on developing the greatest world phones that any traveler could ever want. Aside from the lack of Band 12 LTE, Apple has truly delivered a best-in-class smartphone for the connected traveler. And with features like seamless WiFi calling with HD Voice on T-Mobile US and EE as well as VoLTE on a number of operators, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are unquestionably better than any of Apple’s previous smartphones, and probably the best smartphones in the world for cellular connectivity.

Intuit's Quicken 2015 for Mac revamps interface, expands investment features

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Venerable financial software Quicken is ready to help you with all of your newest accounting needs. Intuit on Thursday announced the release of Quicken 2015 for Mac, the latest update to the long-running app for tracking your personal finances.

Highlights of the new version are a simplified interface designed ground-up for the Mac and new features related to keeping track of investment portfolios. The latter allows for users to create Schedule D tax reports for capital gains, making things easy when April 15 rolls around.

Lest you think that finances haven’t yet entered the 21st century, Intuit is also offering a free mobile app for iOS and Android that works with Quicken for Mac, allowing you to photograph and keep track of your receipts while you’re on the go. You can also use the mobile app to keep tabs on your finances, check account balances, view budgets, see transactions, and more.

Quicken for Mac 2015 supports more than 14,500 banks, credit cards, and loan and investment accounts, presenting them all in a unified interface that lets you get a single top-down view of your finances. And, if you’re a user of Quicken Essentials for Mac, Quicken Mac 2007, or Quicken 2010 for Windows or later, you can easily import your data from any of those apps into Quicken for Mac 2015.

That’s not to say that the app has complete parity with either its predecessor, Quicken 2007, or with Quicken Premier for Windows. Among the missing features in Quicken 2015 are native bill payment, a calendar view of bills and transactions, paycheck deduction tracking, and more. Intuit has posted a feature comparison along with an opportunity for users to vote on which feature they’d most like to see added. (Apparently “all of them” is not currently an option.)

Intuit earned some ire from its customers a couple years ago: The company was slow to adapt Quicken 2007 to Intel Macs, leading to problems when OS X Lion removed the Rosetta compatibility system that allowed PowerPC-based apps to run. The company eventually released a patch to update the software. 

The new version, which is available from Intuit, the Mac App Store, and Amazon is available for $75; it’ll go on sale at retail locations in October.

Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET with more information on missing features and Intuit’s voting process.

 

OS X Mavericks 10.9.4 Update Brings Safari 7.0.5 and Miscellaneous Fixes

Apple has released 10.9.4 system update for OS X Mavericks. The update brings Safari 7.0.5 and a bunch of bug fixes, including one for an issue that prevented some Macs from automatically connecting to known Wi-Fi networks. The update also claims to improve the reliability of waking from sleep, while fixing an issue that caused the background or Apple logo to appear incorrectly on startup.

Like any other Apple OS update, OS X 10.9.4 also contains fixes for a bunch of security issues. The details of these issues can be found on Apple's website.

As usual, to download and install the update, click the Apple menu and choose Software Update to check for the latest Apple software via the Mac App Store, including this update. The update's size may vary from computer to computer when installed using Software Update, depending upon what earlier updates you had installed.

You can also download the manual update installer. This is especially useful when you need to update multiple computers but only want to download the update once. These versions of the standalone installers are available from Apple Support Downloads.

About the update

The OS X Mavericks 10.9.4 Update is recommended for all Mavericks users. It improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac.

This update:

  • Fixes an issue that prevented some Macs from automatically connecting to known Wi-Fi networks
  • Fixes issue causing the background or Apple logo to appear incorrectly on startup
  • Improves the reliability of waking from sleep
  • Includes Safari 7.0.5

iOS 8 additions promise to streamline how you communicate and share

wwdc ios 8

iOS users will have plenty of new things to familiarize themselves with this fall. That’s when iOS 8 arrives, and Apple’s updated mobile operating system promises a slew of new features and enhancements that aim to help you communicate and share more easily.

While most of us will have to wait until the fall to really explore the many changes announced Monday during the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, app makers and developers will get an early crack at iOS 8, with a pre-release version available now for anyone with a developer account. Here are the features we’re most excited to see:

 

wwdc ios 8 notificationsPhoto: Serenity Caldwell

Changes to how you interact with Notifications highlight the new additions to iOS 8.

 

Notifications: Perhaps most notably, Apple introduced new interactive notifications that allow you to respond to alerts without having to leave the app you’re in. Get a calendar invitation, and you can respond, all while continuing to compose that email or—more likely—play that mobile game. You can also interact with notifications from your mobile device’s lock screen, swiping on a notification to deal with it.

 

wwdc ios 8 multitaskPhoto: Serenity Caldwell

The multitasking menu in iOS 8 adds contacts to the top of the screen, allowing you to communicate with them more quickly.

 

iOS 7 added the ability to double tap the home button to bring up a multitasking menu. iOS 8 adds most frequent contacts across the top of the multitasking menu, allowing you to quickly call, text, or FaceTime friends, family, or other VIPs.

Mail: Mail will get several new tools in iOS 8, starting with the ability to add an event to your calendar directly from within an email message. Mail now incorporates several new gestures into the interface, letting you swipe to flag, delete, or mark an email as unread. Dragging all the way across on a message will delete it from your mailbox.

Perhaps one of the coolest feature in iOS 8’s Mail will be the ability to minimize drafts by swiping down. With this feature in place, you’ll be able to more easily grab information from one message and put it in another.

Safari: The built-in browser for iOS is in line for a few updates as well. Safari’s quick-glance tab view from OS X comes to the iPad version of the browser as will the just-announced sidebar slated for OS X Yosemite, which Apple also previewed on Monday.

Search: OS X’s Yosemite update also inspires some new spotlight features in iOS 8. Searching for “Yosemite,” for example, brings up the Wikipedia page for Yosemite, news, and all other kinds of relevant information.

Keyboard: A new keyboard in iOS 8 will use predictive typing to speed up input. As you type out words with the new keyboard, recommendations for the next word based on common phrases will pop up; you can then add those to your message. We’ve seen this a bit with the keyboard in theSwiftKey Note app, but Apple’s solution goes a bit further to learn your personal voice (all the while maintaining your privacy, Apple executives were quick to add during Monday’s keynote.)

Continuity features: Apple wants better integration between all those devices you own, so iOS 8 is going to let you pick up on your iPad what you were doing on your iPhone. That includes taking phone calls on your tablet by more easily creating a portable hotspot for sharing your phone’s connection.

Messaging: Enhancements in the Messages app in iOS 8 focus on group messaging; you can add and remove people within a thread. Other enhancements let you name your thread for easily tracking or turning on a Do Not Disturb setting for a particular thread. You can share your location with people in a conversation;if they’ve shared with you, you can see their location on a map.

 

wwdc ios 8 tap to talkPhoto: Serenity Caldwell

Tap to Talk in Messages lets you send audio or video messages to your contacts.

 

A useful addition to Messages is a Tap to Talk feature that sends audio or video messages to contacts—and yes, it works with selfies, too. Best of all, you can listen to and interact with these to messages right from your lock screen just by putting your phone up to your ear.

iCloud Drive: iCloud Drive promises a better way to work across applications in iOS 8. For example, if you’re working in an app such as Sketchbook, you can open up a document from another application and edit them in that app.

HealthKit: Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, lamented how different health wearables are unable to talk to each other and share the information they gather. iOS 8 looks to address that problem with HealthKit, an attempt to take health stats and put it in a central repository so you can manage it all from one app. Partnerships with the Mayo Clinic and Epic Systems (who provide software for many major hospitals and healthcare organizations) will make it easier for iPhone users to share key health statistics with their doctors, in order to better manage their health between checkups.

Family Sharing: iOS 8 introduces better management features to let family members easily share photos, location, reminders, and many other pieces of information with each other. The chief benefit here: You’re finally going to get to share music, movies, and TV shows you’ve bought with other family members. You can hook in up to six devices. Parents in particular will appreciate new notifications that alert you when your kids try to make a purchase.

Photos With iOS 8, photos will be integrated with iCloud so that every photo you take will be available on all your iOS and OS X devices. To help you sort through all the photos in iCloud, you can search by location, time, and albums you’ve set up. And there are smart editing controls that help you quickly edit and crop photos from your device.

 

wwdc ios 8 photosPhoto: Serenity Caldwell

Apple’s Craig Federighi shows off the new photo features in iOS 8.

 

Siri. Siri also gets some enhancements in iOS 8. Saying “Hey, Siri” will now let you interact with Siri in your car so you don’t have to touch your phone while driving. (OK Google, that feature may sound pretty familiar to you.) Siri will also add Shazam integration to help identify the song that’s currently playing on the radio; you can buy that song using voice commands from Siri. Apple’s digital assistant also gains streaming voice recognition and 22 new dictation languages in iOS 8.

Cox Communications plans 1 gigabit speed for Phoenix Internet customers

Cox Communications is upping the ante in the battle for broadband supremacy, bringing 1 gigabit Internet speeds to Phoenix and going head to head with Google Inc.

The Atlanta-based company, which is the major cable and Internet provider in Phoenix, announced the plan this morning to put in the gigabit service for all new construction. Phoenix, along with Las Vegas and Omaha, also will see existing customers get the speed bump by the end of 2016.

“We are excited about our road map to offer gigabit speeds to all of our residential customers,” saidPat Esser, Cox Communications president.

Company officials said it does not yet have prices for how much it will cost for the 1 gigabit service.

The plan was unveiled at Mark Taylor Residential’s San Travesia apartments in Scottsdale, where Cox will first offer the product as well as Cox Metro wi-fi.

“Offering the fastest Internet speeds and wi-fi access where our residents live and play, makes it essential to connecting our tech savvy residents,” said Dale Phillips, president of Mark-Taylor Residential.

The Metro service will launch later in 2014 and give Cox customers access to more than 250,000 hotspots around the country.

While current customers will have to wait more than two years for the increased speeds, Cox plans to double its existing speeds by the end of the year. Those with the preferred tier will see speeds rise to 50 megabits per second, and those on the premier speed will see speeds of 100 megabits per second. Company officials said there would be no price increase this year when Internet speeds are increased.

The move is a clear shot at Google, which has listed Phoenix as one of its finalists to install its Google Fiber network. That network, however, would be limited to Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe.

Google’s move is still in the evaluation stages, but the city of Phoenix has given the company permission to use city land to place network hubs to help build the network.

Patrick O'Grady is managing editor of the Phoenix Business Journal.

Apple reportedly readying new smart home platform

Apple plans to launch a new smart home platform at next month's Worldwide Developer Conference that will allow iPhones and iPads to control a home's lights, security system, and other connected appliances, according to a Financial Times report.

The new "software platform," which will be unveiled at WWDC on June 2, will be built into the iOS devices, according to the report, which cited anonymous sources. As with Apple's "Made for iPhone" program, the new platform will be open to third-party device makers, allowing their gadgets to work on Apple's automation system.

One application of the new software platform cited by the newspaper was the ability to automatically turn on the lights when an iPhone paired with the system enters a building. Appleoutlined its ideas for a home automation system in a patent filing last November.

The move is seen as a "big play" to challenge device giant Samsung and Google, which in February closed its $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs, maker of the Learning Thermostat and the Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector.

As companies look for opportunities to expand smartphones' reach, home automation is seen as one of new markets for growth. Apple already has made inroads with the automobile sector. AtWWDC 2013, Apple announced plans to better integrate iOS into car dashboard screens. Apple's iBeacon location-sensing technology, which debuted late last year on devices running iOS 7, is already in use for indoor navigation, automatic ticketing, and location-relevant promotions.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the report and will update this report when we learn more

 

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