Apple Updates : IOS 8 GM

ios87

Family Sharing
Family sharing is a way for up to six (6) members of a family to share iTunes, iBooks and App Store content on all of their iDevices. You can pay for family purchases with the same credit card (which is required, for family sharing, by the way); and then approve your child’s spending right from a parental iDevice. You can easily share photos, a family calendar and can keep everyone connected.

Once connected, family members get access to each other’s music, movie, TV, book and app libraries. You can download what you want, when you want, with just a tap at any time. The nice thing here is that you don’t have to share Apple ID’s or passwords to make this happen.

One of the biggest things at my house is photos. I’m a budding photographer and my wife is a huge amateur shutterbug. Family Sharing gives you the ability to share photos across devices, so mom can share photos of the baby taking its first steps with dad who’s on a business trip in another state when it happens.

If you’re looing for more, Family Sharing also provides a group calendar. The shared calendar allows you to keep track of all the kid’s activities, so you’ll know who has to be at soccer, who needs to be at band practice, etc. Any way you slice it, keeping track of a big household just got easier.

iCloud Drive
iCloud Drive is Apple’s answer to services like Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. The service allows you to store documents in the cloud and then access them via any iDevice you have access to, including your PC. All you have to do is drag your files to your iCloud Drive folder or start a new document with an iCloud enabled app. Its that simple. Edits or changes you make to the file appear everywhere the file lives. You can start on one device, and then move to another at your convenience..

The biggest concern I have with iCloud Drive, however, is that its not QUITE like the other services. It feels as though documents are moved there, and not simply copied, as they are with other services like Dropbox and Google Drive. This only becomes a problem when the cloud isn’t available (my biggest question and concern with the cloud has always been, “What happens when the cloud evaporates (or you don’t have an internet connection?”)

iCloud Drive doesn’t feel as though it answers that question, though I could be wrong. iCloud Drive hasn’t been easy to test during the iOS 8 and Yosemite beta program as you had to have a Mac for everything to work right, and Apple keeps wanting to wipe your content after every beta. Honestly, I’ve not wanted to risk truly using the service until after everything is released.
Health
Health is one of those applications that simply is totally confusing; and it likely isn’t going to get a lot of use unless you spring for an Apple Watch at $350 bucks. Health is an onboard application that allows you to keep track of your fitness activity. Its designed so that you can keep track of important metrics like heart rate, calories consumed and burned, your weight, etc. However, the biggest hole with the app isn’t necessarily the app, but the fact that it (and perhaps Passbook) are the most UNINTUITIVE applications I have EVER encountered in my last 20 years of mobile device use.

I have NO idea how to use Health. I have no idea how to get information in it at all. I should be able to use my Nike Fuel Band to put my activity in it, but there doesn’t seem to be a way for me to do that. The biggest problem is that there’s no documentation or manual that helps you figure that out.

Perhaps that’s mostly because Apple’s held back Health Kit for now; but if that’s the case, then they should have held back Health, too. At this point, its just an app that I can’t do anything with, other than create my emergency medical ID with, and while that’s ok, having the rest of the app on board right now, is a confusing waste of space.
Continuity and Handoff
I’ve said from the very beginning that Continuity is cool. However there are a couple things that you have to keep in mind when thinking of using the features.

Yes. Apple’s new products are designed to work together. You iPhone 6/+ will allow you to (nearly) instantly swap back and forth between all of your Apple devices and you’re going to be connected to your computer in ways you never thought you would be, BUT there’s a catch – You MUST be using an iDevice using iOS 8, you MUST be using a Mac and you MUST be using a Mac that supports Bluetooth 4.x and BT-LE for it all to work together like Apple designed it.

Handoff lets you pick up right where you left off. It will quickly and easily pass information back and forth between your connected Apple devices, and you don’t have to do a thing. It just happens. When you’re on the train surfing the web after a long day at work and you get home, you can pick up where you left off on your Mac or on your iPad with the bigger screens. Handoff enabled apps like Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts support the feature out of the box. Third party developers will also be able to build the functionality into their apps as well.

The coolest thing here is the ability to use your Mac as a speaker phone. You can make and take calls through your iPhone right on your Mac. When your iPhone rings, you can answer the call on your Mac and then use its mic and speakers to talk to your friends and family.

FaceTime is the hub here. While you can make a call from Contacts, Calendar or Safari, everything is recorded in the FaceTime Call Log and that data syncs with the call log on your iPhone.

I’ve noticed a few problems here. First of all, with my iPhone 6 and iOS 8, there seems to be a BT-LE issue again. I didn’t have this problem with my iPhone 5 running iOS 8, but my iPhone 6 isn’t always recognized by my MBP. When it is, and I do receive a call, the phone always rings first and my Mac starts ringing well AFTER I’ve already answered the call on my iPhone 6; and then won’t stop for 15 or so seconds into the call. It’s a huge pain, as the background noise is very distracting when you’re sitting right next to your monitor and Mac.

There seems to be a huge communications lag between the two devices; and it really should be instantaneous. Both should ring at the same time, and one should stop ringing as soon as the call is answered on the other.

Your Mac and your iDevice will also just intelligently recognize each other to help provide additional, needed connectivity. You can initiate a hotspot connection FROM your Mac to your cellular iDevice just by selecting it from your Wi-Fi drop down menu in the menu bar. Hotspot doesn’t even have to be turned on, on your iDevice. It will automatically turn on when you select it as a connection.
Spotlight
Apple’s search tool, Spotlight is universal throughout their ecosystem. It lives in every iDevice in service and is on every modern Mac as well. In iOS 8, you can use it to search for nearly everything on or off the device. You can search for news, search the web, search for nearby places, or just about anything in any of the Apple content stores, like the iTunes Store, App Store or iBooks Store. Spotlight will also show you movie times if you ask for them, it works in Safari and will suggest websites that match search criteria that you either speak or type in.

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