Apple’s keynote at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference confirmed (as if it were really ever in doubt) their spot at the top of tech. CEO Tim Cook spoke first, followed by Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi and his eighty-minute presentation of attractions packed into the coming OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8. There’s improved operating system aesthetics, huge application updates, and something they call “Continuity”. The first two of those are nice, improve on an already-nice, industry-leading product, but the third part is a big deal. Continuity is Apple’s push for complete and seamless integration of OSX and iOS, of its desktop and mobile platforms. With Continuity, you can search Safari on your desktop and pick up the search exactly where you left it with your iPhone with a feature called handoff; with iCloud Drive, you can easily work on projects, be sure any project-edits will save and hold across platforms, pick up on them whenever, and you can organize the cloud space however you like; Continuity allows you to pass a call from your iPhone to your computer. Working on one is working on the other.
This is amazing technology, but complete and seamless integration – Continuity – isn’t really a new idea: Windows launched Windows 8, their version of Yosemite-iOS 8-type connectivity, in 2012, and marketed it then as cross-platform cloud-based OS, exactly what the “new” Continuity is. Apple’s Continuity is just the Windows concept with significant design and performance improvements; they’re just doing it better. Part of better is harnessing available technology better. Apple rolled out “HomeKit” and “HealthKit”, services that interact with third party tech to control a home’s many devices and provide accurate health information, respectfully. This type of device-to-device communication is steadily becoming more important as wearable technology becomes more feasible and affordable, and of course, as mobile-platform usage continues to explode, a trend recognized by many analysts like Mary Meeker. As mobile gets more powerful, desktops have to keep up – it’s really the desktop that has to become more mobile-biased. A future in which mobile is the dominant method of computing/cloud access is totally possible, and Apple’s elegant products are leading the way by every commercial measure. What this all means, though, and HomeKit and HealthKit are indicative of this, is that the cloud, too, is evolving. In Apple’s hands, it’s becoming a way to get devices and applications speaking in the exact same language and speaking all the time. It’s asking the cloud to do more.