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Apple's Continuity tack brings ubiquitous computing to Yosemite and iOS 8

Michael deAgonia | June 9, 2014
At this year's WWDC, Apple showcased a variety of new technologies under the Continuity umbrella that take device communication to a more sophisticated level. Users are the winners, says columnist Michael deAgonia.

In OS X Yosemite, Safari gets a simplified toolbar and a new palette of icons more reminiscent of iOS 7. (Image: Apple)

Changes that are beyond skin deep

But a look that's more like iOS is just the beginning of the changes you'll see in Yosemite. Apple has figured out ways to get Macs, iPads and iPhones (signed in under the same Apple ID) to communicate with each other without any user configuration.

First of all, AirDrop — a feature that allows you to wirelessly share files, photos and other tidbits — finally works between iOS and OS X devices. Before now, it only worked between iOS devices or desktop-to-desktop. Now, instead of, say, emailing a video to yourself, or using a third-party cloud storage service like DropBox, it's possible to transfer the file directly from a Mac to your iPhone or iPad, or vice versa. It's instant and it's easy, and long overdue.

OS X Yosemite has picked up some iOS Notification Center features that give users more at-a-glance info. (Image: Apple)

When it comes to other types of data, Apple's iCloud services played a silent role in making sure documents within supported apps were consistent across all of your devices. With Yosemite and iOS 8, iCloud steps out of the background with iCloud Drive. Yosemite sports an iCloud shortcut right in the Finder sidebar. Clicking there will give you access to your documents, which are stored in a folder listed by apps. The best part? This iCloud folder is as customizable as a normal Finder window. Add documents, tags and new folders to your heart's content and every Mac and iOS 8 device will be able to see those changes — and all of that data — automatically.

Note: This is not just limited to iPads, iPhones, and Macs. Also supported: Windows.

But that's just the start.

Your Mac desktop as phone

Ever find yourself in a situation where your iPhone is charging in the bedroom, and it rings while you're in your home office? With Yosemite and iOS 8, the iPhone alerts the Mac — or your iPad — of the phone call, and even displays Caller ID information. Instead of racing to the other room to answer the phone, you can pick up the call right from whichever device is closest: Mac, iPad or another iOS device. The call will then be rerouted from the phone to the device.

The same thing applies to messages: Any iMessage you receive on your phone will be sent to other devices to keep data consistent. This feature already worked for iMessages between Apple devices, but Yosemite now syncs SMS messages, as well. You can even reply to an SMS message right from the Messages app.

 

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