Apple Inc. has unveiled new versions of its operating systems for Mac computers and iOS mobile devices, further integrating the interactivity between the two platforms, in a bid to encourage its hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users to be plugged into the Mac universe.
The firm’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco Monday may have disappointed some observers by failing to unveil new hardware such as a brand new iPhone or an iWatch, but the event served to reinforce the technology giant’s goal to boost its ecosystem and demonstrate the power of its software that runs the best-selling iPhones, iPads and Macs.
To further widen the gap with Google’s Android operating platform, and Microsoft’s Windows platform, Apple is deepening the integration between iOS and Mac OS to ensure users’ loyalty to the Apple family of products. The move assumes significance as the technology giant plans to launch its first big-screen iPhone later this year.
While Apple holds a relatively small market share of less than 20 percent in the overall global smartphone market, its chief executive Tim Cook has pointed out that there are 800 million iOS powered devices in the market now. About 130 million users were said be new to Apple in the last year, indicating that the company is winning some customers from the Android camp.
Meanwhile, shipment of Macs has risen, taking the total installed base of the computers to 80 million. It is clear that Apple would like to further boost Mac penetration leveraging on the 800 million strong iOS users. That could also ensure sustainable growth for the Mac business.
Commenting on the launch of the latest operating systems, veteran technology journalist Walt Mossberg noted that digital life can be better if your phone, tablet and laptop all bear the same Apple logo. Unlike in the past, it isn’t just about a better laptop operating system, or a better phone-and-tablet platform. It is all about the advantages of having a common provider of hardware, software and services.
“The biggest new features were about making iPhones, iPads and Macs work seamlessly together, so that people on Planet Apple have no reason to leave, and those toting other brands might be tempted to fully join the Apple tribe,” Mossberg wrote on his website.
The new iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite, scheduled for launch this fall, is no longer a standalone platform for iOS and MAC devices. Several new features enable users to work seamlessly across the two platforms. For example, a user can compose an email on his iPhone device; when he’s back in the office, he can just “handoff” the email he is composing on his iPhone to his Mac, and vice versa.
Handoff works with selected built-in apps such as Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts. And app developers can easily build Handoff into their apps.
In addition, Apple is also redefining phone call with a new function of enabling users to pick up a phone call on the Mac. In the new Mac OS, users can make and receive iPhone calls on Mac. When an iPhone rings, users will get a notification on the Mac showing the caller’s name, number, and profile picture. Click the notification to answer, and the Mac becomes a speakerphone.
While the integration is impressive, the lack of new hardware could still be an overhang on Apple, especially as Google and Microsoft are gradually launching new things with the “wow” factor — such as driverless cars from Google and instant voice translation by Microsoft. Some industry analysts say Apple’s new OS needs completely new hardware to boost its penetration, rather than just a minor upgrade of existing product lines.
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