OS X Yosemite first look video: Handoff

Posted:
in macOS edited September 2014
One of the more exciting features shown off at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference was Handoff, a piece of technology that lets OS X Yosemite recognize what a user is doing in an iOS 8 app and seamlessly transfer that action to Mac.



Handoff is one of four tentpole features -- alongside SMS, phone calls and Instant Hotspot -- in Apple's next-generation OS X and iOS operating systems the company is collectively referring to as "continuity." Baked in to OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8, continuity features let Macs recognize actions on nearby iOS devices to enable a new level of integration and cross-platform connectivity.

With Handoff, a Mac running OS X 10.10 Yosemite will monitor for iOS 8 devices via Bluetooth. Tying in iCloud as a registration backbone, OS X doesn't need to pair with an iPhone or iPad to log it as a viable target device, making the proximity-aware feature utterly seamless for users with properly configured Apple IDs.

Once the Mac establishes a connection with the iOS device, it appears to enter a low-power "listening" mode until an appropriate call signal is received. As seen in the video above, the iPhone sends out a call whenever a Handoff-capable app is opened, which in turn invokes an icon of the corresponding OS X version of the app to appear next to the Mac's dock.

Clicking on the Mac-side pop-up opens the app and transports the user's most recent action data from the iOS device. For example, users can start reading a webpage on an iPad and pick up where they left off on the Mac.

In the video, we demonstrated this "last action" transfer with Safari and Maps. While Safari took us to the relevant webpage, Maps was more granular in its assessment of most recent iOS device activity and navigated to the correct area and zoom level last displayed on our iPhone.

We also tested the feature with Mail, which returned a new message window with all data fields filled down to the last letter typed. Similar results were found with all supported apps, including Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts.

It should be noted that the feature was working only from iOS to Mac at the time of this writing, but Handoff should be completely two-way compatible at launch. When a Mac sends an appropriate call to a listening iOS device, a small icon of the app is displayed on the iPhone or iPad's lock screen. Swiping up on the icon will take users to the last action performed on the Mac side.


Handoff of Mail on iOS to Mac.


Looking more closely at the tech behind Handoff, we found the setup to be similar to AirDrop, which seeks out nearby devices via Bluetooth and transfers files over a higher-bandwidth ad-hoc Wi-Fi connection. With Bluetooth turned off, our Mac was not "aware" of the nearby iPhone and opening supported iOS apps would not trigger the Handoff mechanism.

Even in its beta form, Handoff is an impressive feature that fits seamlessly into Apple's multi-platform software environment. Further, Apple has provided the appropriate APIs to third-party developers so they can integrate Handoff in their own apps, opening the door to a completely connected ecosystem of Mac and iOS apps.

Aside from a few connectivity issues that required us to toggle our iPhone's Bluetooth on and off, Handoff worked as demonstrated on stage at WWDC by Apple SVP Craig Federighi. By the time Apple's next-gen operating systems hit the App Store this fall, the feature should be ready for action.

For more information on Apple's new push in cross-platform integration, see AppleInsider's hands-on iOS 8 videos.
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77
    thedbathedba Posts: 667member
    I hope that older devices will support this option, such as 2008 iMac. I don't see why they wouldn't.
  • Reply 2 of 77
    adrayvenadrayven Posts: 460member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheDBA View Post



    I hope that older devices will support this option, such as 2008 iMac. I don't see why they wouldn't.

    I suspect 2010 or later.. unless you add a Bluetooth 4.0 device that supports Bluetooth LE.. I think BT LE is the key to the feature...

     

    In theory you could add a BT 4.0 USB adaptor and this would still work on your 2008 iMac

  • Reply 3 of 77
    BT low power state? BT 4.0 only then?
  • Reply 4 of 77
    mejsricmejsric Posts: 150member
    Nice from iOS to Mac

    Just wonder if there is Mac to iOS.
  • Reply 5 of 77
    jmgregory1jmgregory1 Posts: 473member
    I've gotten the connection of my iPhone 5s to my iMac (late 2012 21") for things like phone calls, but the email side and even Safari web handoff has not worked. That being said, this is most definitely a feature that is worth upgrading hardware for if you use your iPhone, iPad and Mac laptop or desktop for work.

    The seamless connectivity between devices makes way more sense than Microsoft's idea of trying to make a single device that is a jack of all trades, master of none.
  • Reply 6 of 77
    What I would really like to know is if I can use the same functionality between a Mac desktop and a Mac laptop, because I want to work in the office on a Mac desktop and then take a laptop out with me on site. I want to have the same documents working the same way (sync) on both.
    Can anyone confirm this is possible?
  • Reply 7 of 77

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    Clicking on the Mac-side pop-up opens the app and transports the user's most recent action data from the iOS device. For example, users can start reading a webpage on an iPad and pick up where they left off on the Mac.

    Big deal.

     

    The question is whether they also send over the content of edit fields, like the one I'm typing into now.

     

    My major workflow issue is starting a response on a web page on my iPhone, and then deciding I'd like to move to the desktop because it's going to be long.

     

    If they solve that problem, I'll buy another iPhone.

  • Reply 8 of 77
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    Big deal.

    The question is whether they also send over the content of edit fields, like the one I'm typing into now.

    My major workflow issue is starting a response on a web page on my iPhone, and then deciding I'd like to move to the desktop because it's going to be long.

    If they solve that problem, I'll buy another iPhone.

    What do you mean, "starting a response"? "Hello Mr. Glockenspiel,"...then decide? Or type several paragraphs, THEN decide?

    The assumption is that as long as you are using an iWork app or presumably a program like Mail, it is taking snapshots of whatever information you've entered and will be reflected on your alternate choice of device as long as you are logged in.

    I'm a bit curious to see this in action myself.
  • Reply 9 of 77
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,350member
    Expect handoff to be supported on the 5S or 5, and not the 4s, etc. All the macs that support Yosemite will hopefully support it, but who knows?

    Apple did not announce which features will be supported by which devices. It's likely that the coolest ones will not be on the 4S.
  • Reply 10 of 77
    65c81665c816 Posts: 133member
    How do you do the phone calls hand off?
  • Reply 11 of 77
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    65c816 wrote: »
    How do you do the phone calls hand off?

    I don't believe they promised the ability to handoff a call in progress, just the ability to select which device you prefer to answer the call with while it is ringing.
  • Reply 12 of 77
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,677member
    If I have three half finished emails and two Numbers document open and in progress in my work Mac.... How will this transfer to my iPhone? And when I get home will I be able to open Mail and Numbers on my home Mac and continue work? Anybody know?
  • Reply 13 of 77
    dalledalle Posts: 21member
    It doesn't work on my 4S and Macbook Air (late 2011).

    Is the video made with the Preview version? Or a special version available at WWDC? Because on https://appleseed.apple.com/sp/betaprogram/ is is stated:

    "Since the beta software is unfinished, some new features will not be available, such as phone calls, SMS, Handoff, Instant Hotspot, and iCloud Drive."
  • Reply 14 of 77
    rolandgrolandg Posts: 632member

    How does the SMS part of continuity work? Are they synched between devices similar to iMessages or are they only available when the iPhone is connected to / in reach of a Mac/iPad?

     

    I wish they would create a unified messenger API other providers could tap into and/or make open iMessages to other OSs...

  • Reply 15 of 77
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    It's already the case on iOS that you have to write code to save the state of your app to a file, and code to read this file and restore the state again. This is because if the user switches to another app, and that app needs all the memory, your app will be purged by the OS, and will need to restore it's state later if it's switched back to.

     

    So it should be fairly easy for developers to implement Handoff. All they need to do is use the same format of state file on both the Mac and iOS, and when the time comes for a handover, just transmit the state file over the provided BTLE link. If that is in fact how it works.

  • Reply 16 of 77
    If Continuity is successful the bottom line results will be considerable. With Swift, the same code base will be used to write osx and iOS applications. More apps will become available to the Mac, more macs will be sold. Less likely will people use an iPhone and Windows. The tie in into the apple world will become a lot more sticky.
  • Reply 17 of 77
    squuiidsquuiid Posts: 55member
    5S on iOS 8 beta 1 and Macbook Pro 15 2010 on Yosemite beta 1 would only do calls on the Mac. I could not handoff safari, iMessage or anything else. Hopefully will be fixed in next beta. Early days.
  • Reply 18 of 77
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Adrayven View Post

     

    I suspect 2010 or later.. unless you add a Bluetooth 4.0 device that supports Bluetooth LE.. I think BT LE is the key to the feature...

     

    In theory you could add a BT 4.0 USB adaptor and this would still work on your 2008 iMac


    2010... I dunno, with the Macbook Pro try 2012 cause that's when they started to add Bluetooth 4.0.   My Late-2011 MBP only has 2.1  It would be strange to see Apple feature out a system they sold just 2 years ago, but then again they do this often with their iOS devices so it's definitely possible.

  • Reply 19 of 77
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    dalle wrote: »
    It doesn't work on my 4S and Macbook Air (late 2011).

    Is the video made with the Preview version? Or a special version available at WWDC? Because on https://appleseed.apple.com/sp/betaprogram/ is is stated:

    "Since the beta software is unfinished, some new features will not be available, such as phone calls, SMS, Handoff, Instant Hotspot, and iCloud Drive."

    Good question.

    I'm a paid developer for both iOS and Mac OS X and I can't get any of the Continuity features to work, except SMS from my Mac, but that's really just sending a tagged iMessage that will then be forwarded as an SMS once it reaches your iPhone.

    I can't figure out how to make a voice call from my Mac, get any apps to handoff, or figure out how to create a hyperlink of an item in iCloud. Ally my devices are on the same network connected via an AirPort Extreme. I have a Late-2013 MBP, iPhone 5S and Retina iPad mini. I thought it would be automatic with WiFI but I also tried to connect them via Bluetooth but that didn't work.

    So what am I missing?

    PS: I also can't figure out how to enable Dark Mode.
  • Reply 20 of 77
    bigzajbigzaj Posts: 4member

    I still don't understand why I can't click on a phone number on my iPad and have it dial from my iPhone...

Sign In or Register to comment.