Tag Archives: mac

Robots organize your photos, so you can procrastinate

If you’re like many people, you have thousands of photos on your phone, long forgotten after you’ve posted a few on Instagram or Facebook.

They don’t have to stay forgotten. Apple and Google are both applying a form of artificial intelligence called “machine learning” to organize your pictures and video _ and along the way, help you rediscover last year’s vacation, dinner with close friends and a casual summer outing to the park.

Apple’s tools are part of last month’s iOS 10 system update for iPhones and iPads. The Google Photos app for Apple and Android devices has a digital assistant to automatically organize these memories _ and Google signaled last week that it will only get smarter. And on Wednesday, Google introduced additional features for rediscovery.

Here’s a look at how they take you down memory lane:

APPLE’S MEMORIES

Apple’s new Memories feature automatically generates video highlights around a theme, such as a trip or birthday party. Individual photos and snippets from video are chosen for you, as is the music, though you can change it to reflect a different mood.

This isn’t just a slideshow. There’s slow zooming and panning, reminiscent of Ken Burns historical documentaries. Some of the photos also come to life, at least on newer iPhones that automatically take three seconds of video with every photo.

When you’re ready to share, the app creates a standard movie file _ so it works on Windows and Android devices, too.

For me, Apple’s app created a “Florida to Illinois” package for a three-week trip in January and one for a day trip to Philadelphia last November. But Apple goes beyond date and location. Apple created a “Together” package for shots with family over the past two years. It also created an “At The Beach” package with beach photos since 2013. Other scenic themes could include mountains, lakes and sunsets.

Apple offers up to three new Memories a day. You can create more based on photos you add to an album and generate new automated ones by scrolling down to “Related.” You can also add or delete images within Memories _ in my experience, a few included mundane screenshots I had to get rid of.

Nothing will ever replace the human touch. But let’s face it, even though I keep meaning to organize my photos, I never find the time. The machine-generated selections aren’t necessarily ones I’d choose myself, but with a small amount of tweaking, they’re presentable and will tide me over until I get around to catching up manually … someday.

 

GOOGLE’S ASSISTANT

Google Photos has been at this longer and offers more types of packages. With collages, Google combines smaller versions of several shots into one layout . Animations combine a bunch of photos taken in succession so that they resemble as a moving image . Unlike typical “GIF” animation files, Google applies its magic to align successive shots, so buildings and bridges look steady _ without the shake common with handheld video. Google also offers albums and video highlights, though without the Ken Burns effect.

Google’s Assistant generates much of this for you automatically. You can edit auto-generated albums and video highlights, but not collages or animation _ although you can create your own from scratch. (That does defeat the purpose of letting the robots do the work, though.)

Sharing is easy and doesn’t require recipients to have Google Photos.

The results vary in quality. I tend to take several shots of the same subject, just in case some are blurry. Yet I get collages and animations out of those repetitive shots. The albums and video highlights I got are grouped by location and date, though Google says it will be doing more with themes , such as following a kid growing up.

Most of my computer-generated creations are animations and collages. As with Apple, Google’s choices aren’t necessarily ones I’d make, if only I had the time. But some are good enough that I look forward to alerts for new ones to check out.

I also enjoyed a feature called “Rediscover this day.” Google will automatically create collages from shots taken on a day, say, two years ago. On Wednesday, Google said it will apply that to people, too, so you’ll get collages of you with a specific friend or family member.

 

SEARCHING

Apple and Google are both getting better at image recognition. Apple’s version tends to be more conservative. While Apple found four photos in a search for fireworks, Google found dozens. Google also found more photos with hats, though one was actually a strange hairdo and a few were of a headband. Then again, Apple thought an illustration of a hut was a hat.

Google is also bolder with face recognition. Its technology is smart enough to recognize the same child at 2 months and 6 years, while Apple often separates the same child into multiple identities (you can merge them, and things will be fine after that).

Google has an edge over Apple in part because it taps its powerful servers to process photos. Apple leaves all the machine thinking to your device as a privacy measure. But Apple says it also favors being right more than complete to reduce the work people need to do to fix things. Being wrong can also have consequences: Google had to apologize last year after its software got too aggressive and mistakenly labeled two black people as gorillas.

 

STORAGE

To free up space, both services will automatically clear photos from your phone after uploading them to the internet, once you activate the option. You still have a lower-resolution version on the device and can get the sharper image anytime, as long as you’re online.

Google Photos offers unlimited online storage of photos at up to 16 megapixels and videos at 1080p high definition _ good enough for most people. It will compress larger photos, or you can store the original and have it count toward your Google Drive limit, which starts at 15 gigabytes for free. Apple’s iCloud Photo Library requires paying once you exceed 5 gigabytes, which is enough for a few thousand photos.

 

On the Web

Apple Memories video from January trip.

Google animation of fountains.

Google collage.

Apple unveils iPhone with high-res cameras, no headphone jack

airpods

Apple Inc. unveiled an iPhone 7 with high-resolution cameras and no headphone jack at its annual launch this week, though the biggest surprise was the debut of a three-decade-old Nintendo game franchise, Super Mario Bros, on the smartphone.

While shares of Apple barely budged, Nintendo’s U.S.-listed shares jumped 29 pct on investors’ hopes that Super Mario would be another mobile gaming hit for the Japanese company akin to the wildly popular Pokemon Go.

Much of the presentation headed by Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook was devoted to technical details of photography, wireless earphones, games from Nintendo, and a new version of Apple watch – with fitness features.

The biggest iPhone technical improvements all had leaked, and Apple itself spoiled the surprise by sending out tweets of some details before Cook spoke. The company then deleted the messages.

Apple has reported declines in iPhone sales for the last two quarters, which raised the stakes for the iPhone 7. Some consumers and analysts are considering waiting until 2017.

“Just gonna wait on iPhone 8 cuz it’s the 10th anniversary of iPhone,” Tweeted @LewBruh near the end of the event. “Ya know they gonna do something big.”

But Mike Binger, senior portfolio manager at Gradient Investments LLC in Minneapolis, said the new phone encouraged him that Apple was in good shape for a new sales cycle.

“I think the iPhone 7, just from a replacement basis, will be a successful launch,” he said.

The world’s best-known technology company said the iPhone 7 would have one, zooming 12-megapixel camera. Starting at $649, it is the same price as the 6S predecessor. The larger 7 ‘Plus’ edition, starting at $769, would feature two cameras, including a telephoto lens.

Apple also removed the analog headphone jack from both new models, as was widely expected. The new headphones supplied by Apple with the phone will plug into the same port as the recharging cord, making it incompatible with most wired headphones without an adaptor. Apple includes the adapter.

The phones will also work with Apple’s new wireless headphones, called Air Pods, available in late October at a price of $159.

The disappearance of the headphone jack “will probably annoy a certain amount of people” but they would likely get over it, Binger said.

Apple described dropping the jack as an act of courage as it moved toward a wireless future with the optional Air Pods. Getting rid of the jack also increased room for stereo speakers, and Apple sharpened the technology on most features, from the camera to a pressure-sensitive home button to a boost in memory.

The new phone will start shipping in major markets, including the United States and China, on Sept. 16.

Bob O’Donnell of research firm TECHnalysis said Apple’s new glossy black finish could be more popular than any tech feature, reflecting the slowdown in major tech innovations for smartphones.

“While the camera improvements for the iPhone 7 Plus are nice, they are incremental for most and the lack of headphone jacks could offset that for others,” he said.

Apple typically gives its main product, which accounts for more than half of its revenue, a big makeover every other year and the last major redesign was the iPhone 6 in 2014. Many are expecting a three-year cycle this time, culminating in a major redesign for 2017 to be called iPhone 8.

Apple said its Apple Watch Series 2, with a swim-proof casing, will be available in more than 25 countries starting on Sept. 16.

“I predict Watch sales will improve dramatically,” said Tech analyst Patrick Moorhead. “Most of the current Watch owners are early adopters and the next wave could be 10 times the size of that market.”

Apple also launched a new version of the device called the Apple Watch Nike+, in partnership with the athletic goods manufacturer Nike Inc., featuring GPS so athletes can track their runs.

Shares of Fitbit Inc., which makes activity-tracking bands, closed down 2 percent on the emergence of such a high-profile competitor.

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Apple still strong at 40, but are best years behind it?

Apple turned 40 this spring, and it’s a very different company from the audacious startup that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak launched in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976.

Today, the maker of iPhones and Mac computers is the world’s most valuable public corporation, with 100,000 employees and a new, multi-billion dollar headquarters in Cupertino, California, set to open next year. But despite its astounding financials — Apple reported $53 billion in profit on $233 billion in sales last year — some critics have suggested Apple’s best years are behind it, as it has struggled to come up with new products and match the phenomenal success it has had in recent years.

Not surprisingly, longtime employees like software vice president Guy “Bud” Tribble disagree.

“We still think we’re going to change the world,” said Tribble, one of a half-dozen Apple staffers selected by the company to briefly reminisce with reporters this week. Tribble started with Apple in 1980 and worked on the original Macintosh team. He added: “We had no idea back then that Apple would grow to the size that it is.”

The company now boasts that more than 1 billion Apple devices — iPods, iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple Watches — are in regular use around the world. Those products are widely admired and imitated. But Apple depends on the iPhone for two-thirds of its revenue. And after selling a record number of iPhones last year, analysts say sales are leveling off and may even decline this year.

As it enters middle age, Apple may find it difficult to maintain its leadership in the industry. Some experts say it’s getting harder to come up with new advances to distinguish Apple’s products from those of its competitors.

“Apple is still as good as it used to be, but everyone else has gotten better than they used to be,” said James McQuivey, a tech analyst with Forrester Research.

He cited longtime rival Microsoft, once viewed as an industry laggard, but now credited with pioneering tablet computers with detachable keyboards _ a category even Apple is embracing with the business-oriented iPad Pro. By contrast, he noted, Apple’s latest iPhone is a downsized version of earlier models.

Longtime staffers said Apple still has the zeal to create revolutionary products.

“We’ve done this more times than anybody else,” said Greg Joswiak, a 30-year employee and vice president for product marketing. He listed the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes and the company’s online App Store, the new Apple Watch and recent initiatives to create new health-tracking and medical-research apps for the iPhone and Watch.

Apple is widely believed to be exploring new businesses, from electric cars to virtual reality, but analysts say developing products in those categories could take years.

“We want to go into new industries … and really challenge the status quo,” said Divya Nag, a former medical researcher and entrepreneur hired in 2014 to work on Apple’s health projects. Always secretive about specific plans, Apple declined to provide Nag’s job title. Her resume shows a track record of helping win FDA approval for new medical inventions.

Apple’s growth hasn’t been smooth. Jobs was forced out in 1985, leading to a revolving door for chief executives until he returned in 1997, as the company he co-founded was on the brink of collapse. “There was a time when you were worried about keeping engineers here,” said Cheryl Thomas, a vice president for software engineering who joined Apple in 1989.

And in 2000, when the dot-com bubble burst, Joswiak said Jobs refused to cut spending when competitors were tightening their belts. Joswiak said Jobs pledged to “invest in ourselves more than ever before. We then suffered through 11 straight quarters” of dismal financial returns.

Jobs’ death from cancer in 2011 led to the elevation of current CEO Tim Cook, who’s intense but softer spoken. Tribble credits Cook with maintaining Apple’s focus on quality products, even as Cook has taken his own path in running the company.

Far more than Jobs, Cook uses his prominence to speak out on social issues, from global warming to civil rights and individual privacy. He recently challenged the U.S. government in a high-stakes legal dispute over an encrypted iPhone used by an extremist killer. While that drew criticism from top Justice Department officials and GOP presidential contender Donald Trump, Joswiak said he was proud of Apple for taking what he considers a principled stand.

Apple remains one of the most sought-after brands. BAV Consulting, a firm that tracks brand reputation, said that after reaching a low in 2001, just before the iPod came out, Apple is now in the top 1 percent of American brands. And it’s in the top 2 percent of brands “being worth paying more for” — which means it can get away with charging more for its products, according to BAV.

Even at 40, the company hasn’t lost its passion, Thomas said. She said she wanted to work there since seeing the famous 1984 Macintosh commercial, in which a young woman hurls a hammer at the giant image of a Big Brother figure.

The idea of joining what was then a tech upstart didn’t sit well with her father, a career IBM scientist, who advised Thomas: “You need to think with your head and not your heart.”

But Thomas said: “I thought with my heart.”

‘Harry Potter’ e-books come to life in new Apple edition

You don’t need to be a wizard to see the “Harry Potter” books come to life.

The seven books are getting a makeover with more than 200 new illustrations in enhanced e-books made for Apple devices. More than half of the illustrations are animated or interactive, with such touches as a golden snitch from Quidditch matches flying away as you tap it on the screen. Series creator J.K. Rowling also goes deeper into some of the characters and story lines with a handful of pop-up annotations.

The editions are exclusive to Apple’s iBooks Store and require an Apple Inc. mobile device or a Mac computer to read. For other devices, including Amazon’s Kindle, standard electronic editions are available through Rowling’s Pottermore site.

The makeover offers readers young and old a new way to engage with the story. It also gives Rowling and her publishers an opportunity to resell these best-selling books, the last of which came out eight years ago. It’s akin to Hollywood releasing the same movies in new formats and with bonus materials.

While the illustrations are new and exclusive to the enhanced editions, Rowling’s annotations aren’t necessarily so. Rowling has been regularly posting new essays on Pottermore. She has traced Harry’s roots to a 12th-century wizard and has written about the origins of an invisibility cloak that appears throughout the series. Rowling has also penned supplemental books, including “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” a children’s book that was referenced in the last “Harry Potter” book.

Until recently, the Pottermore site also had a game that took readers through the books chapter by chapter, with riddles and other discoveries along the way. That game incorporated clips from the “Harry Potter” movies. The new e-books do not.

Instead, the new editions offer full-color illustrations and animation from Pottermore artists.

In one animation, you see multiple letters fly in through the fireplace with news of Harry’s acceptance to Hogwarts wizardry school. In another, an owl, a cat and the fog come to life on Platform 9 3/4, where a Hogwarts-bound train awaits. On the train, you see landscape moving by through a window.

In one scene of a feast, you can slide left and right to see the rest of a long table covered with food. It’s not obvious which illustrations are interactive. The idea is to get readers to explore.

There’s no sound, though. When Harry’s friend, Ron, gets an angry audio letter from his mother, you see steam coming out, but you don’t hear her screaming, as you do in the movie.

You can access Rowling’s supplemental materials by tapping a quill icon embedded in the text. For instance, you learn how students arrived at Hogwarts before train service began: Some rode on broomsticks, but that was tough with trunks and pets to bring along.

There aren’t many annotations, though. You get more backstory at the Pottermore site, but you need the e-books for the full text.

The books also get new digital covers to reflect each book’s theme — serpents for the second book, for instance. Artists also designed a new font with each letter incorporating a lightning bolt — the shape of a scar on Harry’s forehead. This font — named Fluffy, for a three-headed dog in the first book — is used for the opening letter of each chapter.

The books cost $10 each, or $70 for the series. There’s no discount if you already own standard electronic editions. English editions are available in the U.S. and 31 other markets right away. Editions in French, German and Spanish are coming Nov. 9.

Highlights from the Mobile World Congress electronics show

Apple was highlighting the capabilities of its iPhone cameras with a gallery of photos taken by its users around the world at an electronics show in Madrid.

Apple’s campaign comes as Samsung unveiled new phones with improved photo-taking capabilities. The two companies have been fierce rivals, and one research firm said that Apple bested Samsung as the world’s top smartphone maker in the last three months of 2014.

Apple Inc. wasn’t at the Mobile World Congress show this week, but is making its presence felt, as new phones are inevitably compared with iPhones. Apple has its own event Monday in San Francisco, where it’s expected to reveal more details about its upcoming smartwatch.

Here’s a look at some of the developments at and beyond Mobile World Congress, which ended on March 5:

Apple is turning over a large portion of its home page, along with billboard and print ads in dozens of cities, to photos from its “Shot on iPhone 6” campaign. The company collected photos from 77 users around the world by combing through Flickr, Instagram and other sites (and getting permissions from the photographers). Apple is featuring 57 photos and three videos from those users at http://apple.com/worldgallery . The rest are on print ads.

Apple is seeking to show that people can take quality images with iPhones, without needing to buy and carry a stand-alone camera. The photo captions describe what makes each image stand out and present tips and information on any apps and accessories used.

The campaign launched just as Samsung Electronics Co. announced its new Galaxy S6 phones, which promise improved focus, low-light capabilities and color adjustments to account for ambient light.

***

Before iPhones came around, there was the BlackBerry. But iPhones — and later, Android phones — showed people that smartphones can do much more than email and calls. BlackBerry was late in modernizing its operating system to offer those capabilities.

At the show, BlackBerry CEO John Chen reiterated the company’s “philosophical” shift away from merely making devices to becoming a leader in software, especially for businesses and even rivals such as Samsung.

Nonetheless, BlackBerry said it may launch four new smartphones over the coming year, including the BlackBerry Leap, a “low-to-mid” market phone that will go on sale in Europe in April. Although the Leap has a touch-screen keyboard, BlackBerry’s head of devices, Ron Louks, told The Associated Press that BlackBerry remains committed to making models with its signature physical keyboards.

***

The head of the Federal Communications Commission is taking the defense of new Internet regulations on the road. During a keynote, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said “there needs to be a referee” for the Internet.

The FCC’s vote last week approved “net neutrality” rules that prevent Internet providers such as Comcast and Verizon from slowing or blocking Web traffic or from creating Internet fast lanes that content providers such as Netflix must pay for. Broadband providers and Republicans have been critical of the new rules, and the FCC’s decision is expected to trigger industry lawsuits that could take years to resolve.

Wheeler did not specifically address the political aspect of the decision, but said “the people against it spawned all kinds of imaginary horribles. This is no more regulating the Internet than the First Amendment regulates free speech in our country.”

IPhone statue removed in Russia after Apple CEO writes about being gay

Shortly after Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote about being a proud gay man, a statue of an iPhone was dismantled at a university in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The statue, which was about 6 feet tall, stood on an IT university campus.

A statement from a company that removed the statue, ZEFS —Western European Financial Union, which deals on construction, advertising and finance — said Cook’s writing was “a public call to sodomy,” according to reports from The AP and Washington Post.

The statement also referred to Russia’s law banning minors from “homosexual propaganda” and said the statue, which was a tribute to Steve Jobs, violated the statute.

“Russian legislation prohibits propaganda of homosexuality and other sexual perversions among minors,” ZEFS wrote in a statement, according to the Washington Post. “After Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly called for sodomy, the monument was dismantled pursuant to Russian federal law on the protection of children from information that promotes the denial of traditional family values.”

Some Russian news sources have said that there were plans to remove the statue before Cook’s essay was published in Bloomberg Businessweek in October.

Cook’s sexual orientation was not a secret when he took the helm of Apple and the statue was installed after Jobs’ death. However, the Bloomberg interview was the first in which Cook wrote about his homosexuality.

Cook wrote, “I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

About time: Apple debuts the Apple Watch

Apple unveiled its long-anticipated smartwatch on Sept. 9, introducing a device that transplants the features of an iPhone onto a smaller screen that’s never more than an arm’s length away.

Dubbed the Apple Watch, the gadget marks the technology trend-setter’s attempt to usher in an era of wearable computing and lift its sales with another revolutionary product.

The watch’s debut also heralds a turning point in Tim Cook’s three-year reign as Apple CEO. Although the company has thrived under Cook’s leadership, it had only released upgrades to the iPhone, iPad and other products hatched before his predecessor, Steve Jobs, died in October 2011. The lack of totally new devices raised questions about whether Apple had run out of ideas without the visionary Jobs.

Now Apple is betting on a gadget that seems like something James Bond might wear. The Apple Watch’s top-of-the-line edition comes in a casing made of 18-karat gold, with an array of elegant bands available for most models. The watch can serve as a walkie-talkie, a drawing pad, pulse monitor, calorie counter and activity tracker.

“It is amazing what you can do from your wrist,” Cook said.

Apple is a late arrival to the still-nascent market for wearable technology. Several other companies already sell smartwatches that have been greeted with widespread indifference.

But Apple has a reputation for igniting dormant markets. Other music players, smartphones and tablet computers were first to market, but the devices did not enthrall consumers until Apple imbued them with its magic touch.

The smartwatch “might not only be a game changer for Apple, but for the entire industry,” says FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives. “A lot of major technology players around the globe are taking notes on what Apple is trying to do here.”

Investors appeared lukewarm about the unveiling. Apple’s stock dipped 37 cents to close at $97.99, but the shares had been surging for months ahead of Tuesday’s show. The stock has gained 22 percent so far this year and hit an all-time high earlier this month.

It will take months to gauge the popularity of the Apple Watch. The $349 device won’t go on sale until early next year.

Cook hailed it as the most “personal device we have ever created.”

The watch is “the first product we have seen with Tim’s fingerprints all over it,” said Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin, who has been following Apple through most of its 38-year history.

The watch will tie into a new payment system designed to enable people to store all their credit card information in a digital locker so merchandise can be bought with a tap on a sensor at a checkout stand or a press of the button.

The watch must be used with one of the iPhone models released in the past two years – the 5, 5S, 5C or the latest versions scheduled to go on sale Sept. 19 in the U.S. and nine other countries.

Here’s a closer look at what Apple has in store:

LARGER iPHONES

The iPhone 6 will feature a 4.7-inch screen, up from the 4-inch screen on the models released in each of the previous two years. The iPhone 6 Plus will have a 5.5-inch screen and other improvements, including longer battery life, that will cost an additional $100.

App developers will have new tools to rearrange their content to take advantage of that larger screen.

The new phones are not as big as Samsung’s latest flagship phones – 5.1 inches for the Galaxy S5 and 5.7 inches for the Note 4 – but they will be large enough to neutralize a key advantage Samsung and other Android manufacturers have had.

The iPhone 6 will also have a barometer to estimate how much users climb stairs, not just how far they walk or run.

Apple is improving a slow-motion video feature by allowing even slower shots on the iPhone 6. The camera will be able to take 240 frames per second, double the rate of last year’s iPhone 5s. Normally, video is at 60 frames per second.

Starting prices for the new iPhones will be comparable to those in the past – $199 with a two-year contract for the iPhone 6 with 16 gigabytes of storage.

However, the step-up models will have double the memory as before – $299 for 64 gigabytes and $399 for 128 gigabytes. The iPhone 6 Plus phones will cost $100 more at each configuration.

MOBILE PAYMENTS

Apple is calling its new payment system Apple Pay.

Consumers will be able to use their phone cameras to capture a photo of their cards. Apple will verify it behind the scenes and add it to the phone’s Passbook account so people can make payments at a retailer. Apple announced several merchants that will accept this system, including Macy’s, Whole Foods, Walgreens and Disney stores. American Express, Visa and MasterCard all are cooperating with Apple, too, as well as most major banks.

For security, the card number is stored only on the device. Each time you pay, a one-time card number is created to make the transaction.

SMARTWATCH

Cook says Apple had to invent a new interface for the watch because simply shrinking a phone would not work. Much of the interaction will be through the dial on the watch, which Apple calls the digital crown. It’s used to zoom in and out of a map, for instance.

Apple worked with app developers to create new functionality. Users will be able to unlock room doors at some Starwood hotels or remind themselves where they parked with a BMW app.

The new watch will come in a variety of styles, with a choice of two sizes.

NEW SOFTWARE

Though much of the attention has been on new gadgets, the software powering those gadgets is getting its annual refresh. Apple considers iOS 8 to be its biggest update since the introduction of the app store in 2008.

Existing iPhone and iPad users will be eligible for the free upgrade, too.

Among other things, iOS 8 will let devices work better in sync. For instance, it will be possible to start a message on an iPhone and finish it on an iPad. With an upcoming Mac upgrade called Yosemite, it will be possible to continue working on that same message on a Mac computer. These handoff features will extend to the Apple Watch.

The new software will be available to existing users on Sept. 17.

Coming from Apple in the fall …

Apple’s Mac operating system will have easier ways to share and search, while the iOS software for iPhones and iPads is getting new features for keeping tabs on your health and controlling home devices.

Apple executive Craig Federighi said data from various fitness-related devices now live in silos, so you can’t get a comprehensive picture of your health. He said that will change with HealthKit in iOS 8. Apple is also working with the Mayo Clinic to make sure your weight, calorie intake and other health metrics are within healthy ranges.

Apple is also making it easier for various devices to work together, even though the Mac and mobile systems are separate. You can share songs, movies and books you purchase with your entire family, and you can sync photos more easily across several devices. Macs and mobile gadgets will share more features, and you can exchange files between the two more easily and even make phone calls from your Mac.

The free updates will come this fall, though app developers get a test version Monday as the company opened its 25th annual developers conference in San Francisco.

Here are the highlights:

CHANGES TO MAC COMPUTERS:

– The next Mac system will be called Yosemite, after the national park, now that Apple is naming it after California locales rather than cats.

– You’ll be able to search for content on the computer and on the Internet at once, similar to a feature available with Microsoft’s Windows 8.

– Apple is expanding its iCloud storage service so that you can store and sync files of any type, not just the ones designed specifically for iCloud. It’s similar to how other services such as Dropbox let you work with the same files on multiple devices more easily.

– A Mail Drop feature will make it easier to send large files. Instead of pushing the entire file by email and overloading mail servers, the Mac will create a link that the recipient can click for the full file.

– The Mac’s Safari Web browser will have more privacy controls and ways to share links more easily.

CHANGES TO IPHONES AND IPADS:

– Like the new Mac OS, the iOS 8 system will have a universal search tool to cover both your device and the Internet. It will also get the iCloud Drive service.

– The new software will sport interactive notifications, so you can respond to a message without having to leave another app. It will have new gestures, such as double tapping to see a list of frequent contacts.

– A QuickType keyboard promises predictive typing suggestions. For example, if you start typing, “Do you want to go to,” the phone will suggest “dinner” or “movie” as the next word. Currently, the suggestions are limited to spelling corrections.

– IOS 8 will have a built-in health-management tool to help people track their vital signs, diet and sleeping habits. Apple’s chief rival, Samsung Electronics Co., incorporated fitness-related features in its latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S5, and announced plans last week for similar management tools.

– Apple announced new technology for controlling garage doors, thermostats and other home systems, although the company didn’t say how all the pieces will be linked together through what it calls HomeKit.

– For developers, Apple announced the ability to sell app bundles at discounted prices. The fingerprint security system on the iPhone 5s also will be accessible to apps written by outside parties, not just Apple functions such as unlocking the phone and verifying iTunes purchases.

WORKING TOGETHER:

– Apple’s AirDrop feature, which has let you share files with other devices of the same type, will now let iPhones and Macs share directly with each other.

– A new Handoff feature will let you switch devices more easily, so you can start writing an email on a phone and finish on a Mac. And when your iPhone gets a call, you can answer it using the Mac as a speakerphone.

– The iMessage chat service will be broadened to work better with Android and other competing phones.

ANNOUNCED EARLIER:

– Last week, Apple announced a deal to pay $3 billion for Beats Electronics, a headphone and music streaming specialist. The deal brings rapper Dr. Dre and recording impresario Jimmy Iovine to undetermined roles at Apple. During a demo Monday, Federighi placed a call to Dr. Dre to welcome him to Apple.

COMING SOON:

– Apple typically announces new iPhones in September and new iPads soon after that. Many analysts also believe the company will release an Internet-connected watch as part of Apple’s expansion into wearable technology.

SILENT:

– Despite speculation, Apple didn’t say anything about a long-awaited digital wallet that enables Apple to process payments on iPhones and iPads.

– Apple didn’t provide an update on CarPlay, its project for embedding automobiles with some of the iPhone’s main applications. But Apple did say it’ll be possible to tap the Siri virtual assistant without pressing a button. Cars with built-in CarPlay services and radios that are compatible with CarPlay are both expected this year.

Top apps for the iPhone, iPad

Top Paid iPhone Apps:

1. Sleep Cycle alarm clock, Northcube AB

2 Bridge Constructor, Headup Games GmbH & Co KG

3 Minecraft – Pocket Edition, Mojang

4 Heads Up!, Warner Bros.

5 Afterlight, Simon Filip

6 Plague Inc., Ndemic Creations

7 Papa’s Freezeria To Go!, Flipline Studios

8 Threes!, Sirvo LLC

9 Card Wars – Adventure Time, Cartoon Network

10 Free Music Download Pro – Mp3 Downloader, ASPS Apps

Top Free iPhone Apps:

1 Smash Hit, Mediocre AB

2 Red Bit Escape, redBit games

3 Crazy Taxi, SEGA

4 Don’t step the white tile, Ayumu Kinoshita

5 Darklings, MildMania

6 Snapchat, Snapchat, Inc.

7 Facebook, Facebook, Inc.

8 YouTube, Google, Inc.

9 Instagram, Instagram, Inc.

10 Flappy Fall, Balloon Island

Top Paid iPad Apps:

1 Minecraft – Pocket Edition, Mojang

2 Calling All Mixels, Cartoon Network

3 Card Wars – Adventure Time, Cartoon Network

4 Survivalcraft, Igor Kalicinski

5 Bridge Constructor, Headup Games GmbH & Co KG

6 SSkyblock – Survival Game Mission Flying Island, Violet Games

7 Hide N Seek : Mini Game With Worldwide Multiplayer, wang wei

8 Surgeon Simulator, Bossa Studios Ltd

9 Block Fortress: War, Foursaken Media

10 Plants vs. Zombies HD, PopCap

Top Free iPad Apps:

1 Smash Hit, Mediocre AB

2 Darklings, MildMania

3 Farm Heroes, SagaKing.com Limited

4 Crazy Taxi, SEGA

5 Red Bit Escape, redBit games

6 Flappy Wings – FREE, Green Chili Games UG (haftungsbeschrankt)

7 Frontline Commando 2, Glu Games Inc.

8 Jenga HD, NaturalMotion

9 Little Hand Doctor – kids games, George CL

10 Flappy Fall, Balloon Island

The desk that tells you to stand up

Sitting down all day is bad for you, or so doctors say. There’s been a burst of interest in standing desks, but they’re not that easy to use, and it’s hard to motivate sitters to stand.

Stir, a company founded by a former Apple engineer, says it has the answer: a table that will nudge you to stand, with a gentle, one-inch rise and fall of its surface. If you take the suggestion, the table rises to standing height.

The table is controlled from a color touch screen. It looks as though someone has hammered an iPhone into the table’s surface. To change between sitting and standing positions, you tap it twice. You can program it to make you stand, say, 35 percent of the time. A hidden heat sensor helps the desk determine whether you’re there.

The screen also controls the table’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. They don’t do much right now, but the plan is for the table to connect to your smartphone to track your sitting and standing periods.

One day, it’ll also connect fitness bands such as the Fitbit to help the table figure out when you should be sitting and standing. For instance, the FitBit could tell the desk that you’ve had a tough workout already that morning and let you sit a bit more than usual, Stir CEO JP Labrosse says.

Now, all we need is a TV couch that reminds people to stand.

OTHER GOODIES: The desk contains power and USB connections in recessed, lidded boxes, so you can charge your phone straight from the desk, then hide the cable under a lid.

AVAILABILITY: You can order the Stir Kinetic desk now for $3,890. That’s about three times the price of simple motorized adjustable-height desk. The company expects to start shipping the tables in February.

THE PEDIGREE: Labrosse was one of the engineers behind the first iPod. He then co-founded a company that made a system that moved solar cells to track the sun. His former boss at Apple, Tony Fadell, went on to create another surprising “smart” product: the Nest connected thermostat.