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Apple’s iOS 8 Adds Home Automation, Health, And Mac Sharing

San Francisco – Apple’s iOS 8 operating system for iPhones and iPads will deliver integrated control of home systems, consolidate information among multiple fitness and health-care devices, and further break down the barriers between the use of Mac computers and mobile devices, Apple executives said during the 25th annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

The new OS, due in the fall, will also enable families to share calendars, purchased content and other content such as pictures across iOS devices.

To break down barriers between Macs and Apple’s mobile devices, iOS 8 will expand the capabilities of AirDrop, which was introduced last year to let users share content among nearby iOS devices. Now users working on a Mac running the planned Yosemite version of the OSX OS will be able to transfer content from a Mac to a nearby iOS device. Consumers will able to start working on a Mac, then continue their work on the iOS device right where they left off. Yosemite is also due in the fall.

Apple’s iOS 8 will also let Yosemite-running Macs display caller ID information and text messages from a nearby Apple phone. Consumers will then be able to use the Mac as a speakerphone to accept the call. From a Mac, users will also be able to call a phone number in a web page by clicking on the number and using a nearby Apple phone to call out.

With iOS 8 and Yosemite OSX, a Mac out of range of a Wi-Fi network will automatically connect to an iPhone to get to the Internet, Apple added.

To turn iPhones and iPads into home-automation controllers, Apple is teaming up with multiple home-automation suppliers to bring out products that will share a communications protocol, security technology and a single app. From a single app, mobile iOS devices will be able to control individual systems or create scenes that coordinate actions among multiple systems. Consumers will also be able to control individual home systems and execute scenes via a mobile device’s touchscreen or via Siri voice control.

To create compatible home systems, Apple teamed up with Haier, LED-lightbulb maker Cree, Kwikset, Schlage, Osram/Sylvania lighting, Honeywell, Haier, Philips,  Broadcom and others. A timetable for availability wasn’t announced.

To tap into the growing fitness and health-care markets, Apple’s Health app will tie into third-party apps to consolidate data from different healthcare and fitness devices and create a composite profile. New apps will also be able to share data. Nike and the Mayo Clinic are working to develop compatible apps, and Apple is working with other healthcare providers to share a user’s information with different hospitals across the country so doctors can take proactive measures.

The new mobile OS also offers enhancements to email, notifications, the touchscreen keyboard, CarPlay, Safari and photo taking.

With notifications becoming interactive, users will be able to swipe down from the lock screen to view an app notification and execute app commands without leaving the app that they were already in. From within the notification, users will be able to execute actions, such as typing an email reply.

In other changes, users will be able to tap to view all of their browser tabs in a bird’s-eye view on an iPad. In email, users will be able to gesture to mark, flag or delete an email, and users will be able to grab content from one email and place it into another from within the email app. The email app will also prompt users to add emailed data into the calendar app.

Also new is QuickType, an on-screen keyboard with ability to offer predictive typing suggestions.

And for group messaging, users will be able to see attachments and photos in a thread, share location data to others in a group messaging session, remove individuals from a conversation underway, and send a voice message or video message as part of a group messaging session.

With enhanced CarPlay, users will be able to plug an iPhone into a CarPlay-equipped car stereo and begin issuing Siri voice commands without having to touch the phone’s on-screen display.

For iOS 8 app developers, newly developed apps will be able to take advantage of new 3D graphics capabilities for games. A new app extensibility feature will enable new apps to talk with other new apps residing on a mobile device. While viewing photos in their photo viewer, for example, users could use a downloaded app to add special effects to the photo without closing the photo-viewing app.

With the iOS 8 launch, Apple will also open up its Touch ID fingerprint-identification technology to third-party developers, who could use it to protect logons and user data. Apple won’t share the fingerprint with app creator, however.

The new mobile OS also adds new enterprise features.

Separately, Apple announced App Store enhancements to make it easier to find apps.