6 Important Changes Coming to the App Store

The app store is usually the subject of much wailing and gnashing of teeth. It hasn’t changed much since it’s first release and as the app store has grown to contain over 1,000,000 apps the old infrastructure and system has started to fail under the strain. However, in recent months there have been some promising signs and WWDC announced some upcoming features that should make the app store a much better place.

with obvious benefits to everyone involved (apart from shady developers) as it will lead to people discovering better apps which ultimately means good developers and Apple are rewarded with downloads (and money) and users are rewarded with good apps. Win win win except for rip off developers who just make cheap freemium rip offs suffer. But what exactly are these great new features.

Better searching!

This has to be one of the core features for any app store on the internet. A good search function will help you find what you want. In the past, the app store has failed to meet the basic requirement of search (you type the name and a rip off appears first) but the advances announced at WWDC suggest an greatly advanced search function which will show thematic results (search health and fitness and run tracking apps will appear etc).

This is a great step forward for the app store.

App preview

Recently, developers have taken to using the app store preview photos to explain the functionality of their apps rather than simply show screenshots. This has been useful for developers and users but has highlighted the weaknesses in the app store up to now. Fortunately developers are going to gain the ability to place a video within the preview section of the app. A great enhancement.

Explore tabs

The explore tab is going to replace the little used or loved “Near me” tab. This will bring a way to quickly explore categories and subcategories of different types of apps (including a section for “near me” apps. It’s great to see Apple make better use of this real estate in the app.

App Bundles

A radically new feature coming is App bundles. These will be groups of App which you can purchase at a discount. There is some speculation that this could even be used to offer upgrade prices to app owners. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

Developer tools

Behind the scenes developers are getting some new powerful tools to help them create better applications including.

  • beta testing via “test flight”
  • in build analytics on App pages (to show who is referring people to their app)

I’m sure app developers will welcome the opportunity to easily get feedback on apps as they create them and to understand their users better. These two factors can help them to create better apps.

Curation

Perhaps the stand out feature that we’ve noticed over the last few months has been the growth in curation within the app store. This has been a real help where previously it was relegated to occasional special events and weekly editors choice awards. Now there are groups of recommended apps on different areas, helping to promote the high cost and high power app that can so often be neglected by “top free”, “top paid” and “top grossing” charts.

All signs point to this increasing, especially in light of Tim Cook’s comments regarding Beats music and the value of curation there. This would also help the Apple app store stand out further from the Google app store where algorithmic suggestions and google plus information is the top measure to recommend applications.

Although there are strengths to Google’s model, there is a reason expert curation has a high value and why people still tune into certain radio programs or read certain magazines (or even a humble blog site).

How would you improve the app store?

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What The WWDC 2014 Keynote Means For You

The WWDC 2014 keynote on Monday revealed what Apple has been tinkering away at for at least the last year. In the hour and forty minute keynote (which you can watch here) a tag team of Tim Cook, Craig Federighi and a couple of other brief appearances revealed the new user and developer features. By the end of the presentation twitter was filled with praise and negative feedback (most typically, that’s been on Android for etc).

But do these changes really matter to you? How are they actually going to impact your use of your Apple devices? That what we want to focus on here at Macdaily. We’re not going to mention every new feature (Apple didn’t mention every feature!) but we’ll look at how the new features revealed at WWDC 2014 keynote are going to affect you and if they ticked off our wish list.

OS 10.10 Yosemite

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The latest version of OS X will be called Yosemite after the national park (and not OS X Weed). The main changes that are coming in OS X are

  • Iosification
  • App updates
  • New spotlight
  • Collaboration between OS and IOS

iOSification

As expected, OS X has continued to steal elements from iOS as the two OS mature. The most obvious of these changes has been the redesign with the increased flat design and translucent sidebars (let’s hope its not as bad as windows vista). However, it’s not just flat design and transparency which has been adopted from iOS. The notification centre has become more like iOS and also gained widgets. Although, I haven’t seen any confirmation of this yet, I suspect this is the end of the widget screen.

What this means to you: A more familiar interface as you switch between devices and a more sensible notification centre with easy to reach widgets.

App Updates

A series of App are set to be updated for OS X 10.10 and no doubt there are more which haven’t been mentioned and won’t be mentioned until later.

Mail

Mail has two promised new features coming

  • Mail drop (The ability to send up to 5GB files to other users)
  • Markup (The ability to edit and annotate images in app)

However, we’ll have to wait to see if this finally fixes its issues with gmail.

What this means to you: Overall this should lead to an improved inbuilt mail application for the Mac, though this is mostly playing catching up with other providers.

Safari

Safari has also gone a slight facelift and gained a few new features. Although the most obvious are the design and sharing aspects the real changes are under the hood with a more powerful and faster complex operations (you won’t need any extensions to watch Netflix). It also will now features individual tabs with privacy mode and a better set of sharing options and even the option to subscribe to RSS feeds in your browser.

What this means to you: If you use Safari then these will be very welcome upgrades enhancing how you can browse the net, with a much cleaner interface. If you use another browser then it will force them to keep up in the browser speed and performance wars.

Spotlight

Spotlight has changed from an app and folder search tool into a truly powerful search tool in general. It’s added in many functions you’d expect to see in an app like Alfred by adding autocomplete of app names and [more] but it also lets you search the internet as well.

What this means for you: Increasingly you won’t have to think about where you put something or where you should search for something, you can just turn to spotlight and it will search everything.

Continuity

In my mind this is the real standout feature of Yosemite and it sheds a lot of light on comments from Phil Schiller on the 30th anniversary of the Mac.

“It’s a world where you’re going to have a phone, a tablet, a computer, you don’t have to choose. And so what’s more important is how you seamlessly move between them all…. It’s not like this is a laptop person and that’s a tablet person. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

The new continuity features basically let you do exactly what Phil says, move seamlessly between devices and collaborate between them with ease. You will be able to:

  • make and receive phone calls on your Mac
  • send and receive SMS messages
  • Start and email, message or even pages document on your iPhone/iPad and continue on Mac (or in reverse)
  • instant connect to iPhone hotspot with no set up
  • airdrop to and from iOS!

What this means to you: If you run both iOS and OS X you will now be able to seamlessly move between the two platforms and use the best device for the task at hand. As Phil says “you don’t have to choose”

iOS 8

14112089969_f59f792892_bAfter iOS 7 major cosmetic reshape to iOS, many people were looking at iOS 8 to address some of the more common system complaints that remained on iOS. Apple has answered many of those complaints and produce an update which “the biggest release since the introduction of the App store” and it’s easy to see why the comparison is there. The App store opened up completely different ways to use iOS via third party apps. The changes in iOS 8 introduce a completely different way for iOS devices to be used.

osXification

Just as OS X has gained influence from iOS, so iOS has been influenced by OS X (and other platforms too). There are four key areas that have changed here.

  • actionable notifications (from notification centre and the lock screen)
  • iCloud drive (with the ability for apps to use the same files)
  • inter app communication (so apps can work together not in isolation but in a secure way)
  • third party keyboards (really this is part of previous points but it is a very obvious change to users)

What this means to you: There are whole hosts of app possibilities that just weren’t possible before. It will be a lot easier to create professional level apps that can do what only a traditional desktop could do before with out complex workaround.

HealthKit

HealthKit is the passbook like storage bank for all your health data. It will allow third part applications to access certain sets of your health data that you allow them too. It will also provide accurate health data from your M7 chip and any connected devices or applications which feed in.

What this means to you: If you are a health nut (or just have a passing interest) then it’s going to be easier to collect and assign health data to different devices that can help track your health progress and encourage you to be healthy.

updated apps and features

  • Updated keyboard
  • Third party keyboards
  • Mail with gesture controls
  • Safari
  • Touch ID all the things
  • HomeKit (with Siri integrations)

Photos!

One that many people have been hoping for has arrived. Apple has taken a serious look at photos and while it isn’t a perfect solution to everyone’s photo worries, it’s pretty darn close. Gone is photo stream and in its place is iCloud photo library. This is a library of ALL your Photos online which can be accessed and edited from any device (or application with the new APIs). These will also be full resolution images with no expiration. However, you are only getting 5gb of free data (free is free) and after that you have to pay. Thankfully these new prices are very competitive and overall this is a great step in the right direction at least.

Oh and there is a new photo app coming for Yosemite and other versions of OS X to help make the most of the new photo system.

What this means to you: With the new photos system you can just take pictures and forget about them, you’ll have them backed up securely and safely and if you delete them you won’t lose them forever after a few days.

App Store

Let’s face it, the app store as it is at the moment sucks. The search is so terrible that even if you enter the exact name of an app, you aren’t guaranteed to get it! There is little curation and it doesn’t do the best job of helping developers. Thankfully for developers (and users) Apple is finally taking a good long look at the App store. Some highlights include:

  • better search (even searching for an idea will get you top app results)
  • sub categories (no just vague categories like “productivity”)
  • videos on app pages (to show off how to use an app or the app in use)
  • beta testing (to prevent more bugs)
  • app bundles (which could be used for upgrade pricing???)

What this means to you: You’re going to have a better app store that helps you find what you want and not some rubbish rip off or clone which has gamed the search system. Plus developers will be able to create better apps for everyone.

Conclusion

This is a huge update to both iOS and OS X that is going to change how you use your devices. Generally, the theme is that you are going to be able to switch seamlessly between devices and applications. Sure, there are still limits (it’s apple after all) but these will create an experience which makes it simple and clear where you are, what is happening with your data.

And that’s not even mentioning the whole new possibilities of applications that developers will be able to bring to us.

What are your thoughts after WWDC?
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4 Apple Related Videos A True Apple Fan Will Love

Over the last few days there have been a string of Apple related videos that I’m sure you’ll love and want to share with your friends.

1. iPhone ringtone Remix

Dj MetroGnome took the original iPhone ringtone and turned it into something completely different. If you really like his remix you can even download it as a track or ringtone for free.

2. Your Verse: Esa-Pekka Salonen

One of the latest Apple “your verse” adverts which shows off the power of the iPad. In Esa-Pekka’s case, he is a composure and conductor who uses the iPad to record ideas as they come to him. A great example of the power of the iPad for Musicians.

3. Kids react to the Apple II

I wasn’t born when the original Apple II came out but I remember computers that didn’t look too dissimilar from this one. For the iPad generation these devices must look like they are from another planet and their reactions certainly show that. Some of my favourite quotes include

  • “If you don’t have a desk, where do you put this?”
  • “It looks very hipster”
  • “So you turned the monitor on, where else might the on switch be?”
  • “Apps, games, websites, BUT this thing has NOTHING.”
  • “Where’s the mouse?”

4. Your Verse: Cherie King

Cherie is a travel writer who shares her experiences as she travels. Her verse shows the power of the iPad not just for short social sharing of text and image but also for finding places and understanding the world around us even when language limits us.

Have you seen any great Apple related videos this week?
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