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WWDC 2015 Highlights

Apple has announced their mid-year updates for iOS, OS X, and Watch OS platforms, at the Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC for short. Here’s a breakdown of the main announcements:

OS X:

Apple announced OS X El Capitan, the follow up to OS X Yosemite. Yes, they’re dead serious about the name. Unlike Yosemite, El Capitan doesn’t feature a redesigned interface – it only serves to improve what Yosemite has built upon.

El Capitan features include:

  • Split View; or the ability to open two consecutive apps on the same screen, by dragging one app onto a fullscreen app.
  • Windows get a cleaner look when viewed in Mission Control.
  • Mail gets gesture support, as well as the ability to go fullscreen.
  • Website pinning, as well as the ability to mute tabs in Safari. Websites will also be able to make use of Force Touch trackpads on laptops that have Force Touch trackpads.
  • Notes let’s users add photos, maps and URLs to any note.
  • Maps gets Transit Directions.
  • Metal comes to OS X, and brings a 50% improvement in graphic rendering speed.

El Capitan is available to developers today, and will come to users as a free upgrade in the Fall.

iOS:

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Apple announced iOS 9, and while it doesn’t have any groundbreaking features, it’s meant for optimization; with under the hood improvements that vary from decreasing update size to 1.3 GB, to extending battery life. Apple is also known for updating as many devices as possible, and this year isn’t any different: the iPhone 4S, and iPad 2 – both devices were released in 2011 – will be updated to iOS 9.

iOS 9 features include:

  • Siri takes on Google Now with Proactive Assistant.
  • News is updated, and will display stories based on topics the user is interested in.
  • Notes is updated, and lets users add checklists, photos, maps, and URLs. Users can also draw sketches.
  • Maps lets users plan their destinations with Transit view.
  • Split View comes to the iPad Air 2, where two apps run at the same time side by side. Picture in Picture allows users to play video from one app while using a different app. Slide Over allows users to open a second app without leaving the one they’re in.
  • Introduction of Apple Wallet with increased card support, such as store credit cards.
  • Keyboard shows lowercase letters when typing in lowercase.

iOS is available for developers today, and will come to users as a free upgrade in the Fall.

Watch OS:

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Apple announced Watch OS 2, the much needed update for Watch OS, in order to fully make use of the Apple Watch hardware.

Watch OS 2 Features Include:

  • Native apps that run on the watch itself. Apps can also take advantage of the Apple Watch sensors and digital crown.
  • New watch faces, including Photo Album and Time-Lapse faces.
  • More ways to customize complications (the information you see on your watch). Users can also rotate the digital crown to view future complications with Time Travel.
  • When the Apple Watch is charging on it’s side, it will give an alarm clock-like display with Nightstand mode.
  • Support for Transit, Apple Pay, and the updated Siri.

Watch OS 2 is available for developers today, and will come to users as a free upgrade in the Fall.

Other Announcements:

Music:

  • Apple announced Music, its music streaming service that will be available to users on 6/30/2015.
  • Individual plans are $9.99 a month, and family plans are $14.99 a month.
  • Apple surprised fans by announcing Android support for its Music service, since this is the first time Apple makes an Android app.

Swift 2:

  • Apple announced the new version of its programming language, Swift, as an open source project.

Apple is different this year; its competitors have caught up and even surpassed Apple in some areas. This compelled Apple to look around, see what these competitors are up to, and to implement similar features in their updates.

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The Android Flagships of MWC 2015

It’s that time of year again! Mobile World Congress is over, and we’re left gawking with brand new tech goodness.

Out of all companies and manufacturers that were present at MWC, there’s no denying the fact that HTC and Samsung stole the show this year; both phone manufacturers unveiled their new flagship smartphones to an eager audience around the globe.

HTC introduced the One M9 model to a fairly unsurprised crowd; the reason being the considerable amount of leaks that have surfaced during the past few weeks. The One M9 is highly similar to last year’s One M8 in design; with the only difference being the power button, which has migrated from the top of the phone to the side, and the omission of the second camera on the back. The M8’s design was highly praised by reviewers last year, and the only issue most people had with the phone were with the camera.

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Not to delve too deep into phone specs, the One M9 is powered by the Qualcomm’s new and powerful Snapdragon 810 processor, has 3GB of RAM, 32GB onboard expandable storage, a 2,840 mAH battery, and runs Sense 7 UI on top of Android 5.0. The biggest change, however, is the camera; HTC finally moved its Ultrapixel camera from the back of the phone, to the front of the phone – a smart move since Ultrapixel technology absorbs more light – and has replaced it with a 20.7 megapixel camera. HTC also refused to follow the trend of QHD screens and ever-increasing display size, so they left the screen at 5” with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels.

The impressive specs, coupled with HTC’s premium aluminum design, were bound to get a positive reaction from tech fans, right? Wrong.

The One M9 was met with cries of disappointment, since most of these tech fans were expecting a major design overhaul, not just the revamped specs. The Verge has even dubbed the One M9 as “the world’s most beautiful disappointment”.

Samsung introduced not one, but two flagship phones this year: the S6 and the S6 Edge. Not unlike HTC, both samsung phones were leaked, albeit not as heavily as the One M9. Samsung managed to garner a slightly more positive reaction from tech fans, since they took a whole new direction in terms of design, they didn’t hold back on the specs, and they introduced something that’s new to the market: a phone with the screen curved on both edges.

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It’s pretty well known that last year’s Samsung S5 was a failure; it didn’t introduce any groundbreaking features, and didn’t differ from the design of its predecessor, the S4. By the time the S5 was released, people were getting sick of the fake metal sides and plastic backs, since they were buying a flagship phone, so they voiced their complaints on various social media platforms and tech websites.

Samsung took note, no pun intended, started from scratch material wise, and released the S6 and S6 Edge with real metal edges, and a glass back. The S6 and S6 Edge not only look like premium flagships, they run like ones as well. On the inside, both phones share the Exynos 7420 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32/64/128 GB fixed storage. Yes, fixed storage, because both S6 and S6 Edge phones don’t support SD cards, they don’t have removable batteries, and they aren’t waterproof like their predecessor; this has left some fans disappointed. Another similarity is display, with a size of 5.1”, and resolution of 1440 x 2560. There is, however, a difference in battery capacity: the S6 has a 2,550 mAh battery, and the S6 Edge has a 2.600 mAh battery. Both phones run Touchwiz UI on top of Android 5.0, Samsung’s own version of Android, which has been also refined and rid of excessive bloatware.

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As expected, there was more interest in the S6 Edge, since the concept is still rather new to consumers, but that doesn’t mean that the S6 garnered any negative reviews by eager tech fans.

Both HTC and Samsung are listening to the demands and suggestions of the public. It’s not all about releasing a phone and forcing the consumer to like it. No, the game has changed this year; they have released phones that are tailored for the consumer. HTC already had a great product, and tried to make it better this year; while Samsung learned from its previous mistakes, and refined their product. It’s comforting to know that companies are getting more and more concerned with what people have to say, and this will encourage people to voice their opinions on social media, since they now know that there is someone listening on the other side.