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Apple and its quest to rule

Has Apple given both its fans and sceptics something to really shout about? Even the most rabid Apple fanboyz will agree that its share in the market has dwindled over time. The brand's need to come up with smart solutions was never more urgent, writes Rajiv Makhni.

brunch Updated: Jun 13, 2014 17:58 IST
Rajiv Makhni

Whether you're one of those rabid Apple fanboyz or a more non-zealot level user of Apple products, even you would agree with the following:
*Apple's dominance in the smartphone market isn't what it used to be.
*A very aggressive smartphone competition has made far greater strides than Apple in the last two years.
* Apple has mostly played a catch-up game with the last two iPhones.
* Apple MacBook products, on the other hand, are by far the best in their class and have been for a while.
*Apple better get its act together on phones and keep its superiority in laptops.

Read: Microsoft's new Surface tablet takes aim at Apple's MacBook

Now, even the most vitriolic Apple iMafia member will be able to see that there is deep truth in the above five statements. Thus, the need for Apple to do something earth-shattering and game-changing isn't just important, it's downright vital.

WWDC Disaster?

The perfect opportunity to do so was at this year's WWDC. Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference is a much-awaited event that conjures up images of all the new tasty things that Apple will bring out this year. Thus, there was incredible build-up with rumours of an iPhone 6 being announced, new MacBook Air models being introduced and even the iWatch being showcased. All that build-up came shattering down, as not even one of these were announced. Instead, all that was introduced were the next versions of iOS8 and the OS X, thus leaving most people a little shaken.

Yet, within these almost mundane and not-so-exciting announcements is, what I believe, Apple's biggest sleight of hand and trump card in years. Buried deep within the seemingly innocuous new features for the two operating systems is a paradigm shift in merging all three of the most used devices in the world. Apple plans to make your laptop, tablet and smartphone not just work together, but work as if they are joined at the hip. And, with that create an ecosystem so powerful, it will crush the competition and lead to Apple's old quest: Consumer Device World Domination! Here's why I feel this way.

Also read: Apple to release cheaper MacBook?

What the two Oses have to offer
You can now start a document on your mobile phone and finish it off on your desktop, tablet or MacBook. This in itself is the biggest killer feature, but it doesn't end there.

Voice calls and messages
Working on your laptop while your iPhone is ringing and beeping in the other room? You can answer phone calls and reply to messages right from your MacBook or desktop.

HotSpot control
This is the one thing I've always wanted. You're at home working and your normal home WiFi stops working. Now, OS X can find your smartphone and turn on its WiFi Hotspot without you moving from your place.

Airdrop has always been one of the cool features very few people use. Now everyone will. As Airdrop now works across Macs and iOS devices allowing you to share, transfer and drop your files easily between them.

Finally iCloud becomes like Dropbox and Google Drive and not a poor man's version of them. It will now appear as a drive on Finder and store everything and also sync across Macs and Windows.

The photos app becomes more powerful with this new iCloud syncing and thus accessing of photos and videos is across all devices. Better in-built editing capabilities with new tools like automatic straightening of horizons, adjust light and colours and automatic fine tuning are the new add-ons.

iMessage goes head on with other apps like WhatsApp and BBM. Apple has added a tap-to-talk feature on iMessage. Now, you can press and hold the mic icon above the keyboard to record and send voice messages. You can also record and send short video messages.

Siri moves from a fun toy to a serious assistant. You can trigger it purely by a voice phrase "Hey, Siri" similar to "Google Now". Plus, it has Shazam built in, allowing it to recognise music and 22 new diction languages. My only hope is it recognises our Indian accent finally.

Health App
Proof that the iWatch is just around the corner. A health app and a HealthKit API for developers. The app essentially gathers health-related data from various third-party health and fitness apps and stores them at one place.

QuickType keyboard
Finally, Apple has predictive texting. The keyboard can now suggest words that make sense and not make you commit those embarrassing clunkers with auto correct.

Family sharing
Up to six members of a family can connect with each other using their Apple ID, and create shared photo albums, shared calendars and also an option to share family members' locations.

Touch ID
TouchID moves from gimmick to serious use. Now available to developers to integrate the functionality in their existing and future iOS 8 apps. The TouchID will protect logins and user data, and help users unlock Keychain items while fingerprint-related data will also be protected.

There's quite a bit more, but in essence, it's the convergence of the OSes that is a very powerful force. While many have tried before, this really is the first time that all your devices truly will work together in a seamless fashion, not just in information and data exchange, but at a whole different level. After a very long time, Apple's finally given its fanboyz something to really shout about!

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, June 15
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