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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.

More fluid mobility

If you've been using Pages in concert with iCloud for creating documents, then you understand the convenience of being able to pick up what you were doing on any device, iOS or OS X, and complete it on another. Apple brings this integration to an incredibly useful new level with a feature it calls Handoff. Every app with support for this feature can be picked up on any device.

On your iPad or iPhone's lock screen, you'll find a tiny avatar of whatever program you were last using on your Mac; on the Mac, your last-used app will display to the left of the Mac happy face icon in the Dock. If you're surfing the Web on the desktop and decide to step outside, all you have to do to continue your surfing session is grab an iPad, flick that avatar to the top of the screen and you're back to the same piece you were reading — now on the iPad. If you start writing an email on the iPad, when you return to your Mac, you'll find that there is a Mail avatar left-most in the Dock, and if you click on that, it'll bring you directly to the message you were writing — even if you stopped midsentence.

This is possible because Apple devices use low-power Bluetooth; it's this technology that allows these devices to keep tabs on one another and on what you're doing.

Handoff is current supported by many Apple apps, including Mail, Safari, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, and Messages. But third-party developers can take advantage of this, too, by incorporating the feature into their apps.

With Yosemite and iOS 8, you can answer a call to your iPhone — and get caller ID information — right from the desktop. (Image: Apple)

Final thoughts

The features that make up Continuity will be incredibly useful, especially for anyone juggling multiple devices. While the idea of using Bluetooth for device integration isn't new, Apple has combined the features in a creative and natural way. It makes for a slick, frictionless computing environment where your devices take a back seat to whatever you're doing.

I've always maintained that Apple devices are great on their own, even better when used in concert with each other. With Yosemite and iOS 8, Apple engineers are taking the potential for interconnectivity to a whole new level. It's a marriage of convenience for users and a level of integration that would be much more difficult to achieve if Apple didn't make both the hardware and software.

But because Apple is in control of the whole experience — hardware, software and services — its customers can enjoy a full array of products that actually improve when other devices are added to the mix, securely and without complication. For many Apple users, the level of integration afforded by Continuity will be worth the updates alone.

 

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