OS X Yosemite, iOS 8: Continuity -- what you need to know

Apple's promised Continuity feature will bind OS X Yosemite with iOS 8, enabling integration between Macs and mobile devices for compatible apps. So what is Continuity and what can you expect?

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What is Continuity?

Continuity allows iOS devices and Macs to work together enabling either platform to:

  • Make or answer phone calls.
  • Send and receive SMS and iMessages.
  • Personal Hotspot (zero configuration tethering)
  • Handoff
  • (Updated to add) But all these features depend on the devices being connected and in range using Bluetooth LE.

Handoff means you can start a document on an iPad, work on it on your Mac, and then perhaps complete it on your iPhone -- the file will be right where you need it and fully updated.

Integration is seamless -- it's everything Windows tried to do to combine its mobile and desktop platforms, but done with the elegance Microsoft lacks. It's a merge between the PC and the smartphone.

Apple ID

Connecting all your devices, apps and services (including your music collection and iTunes payments) is your Apple ID. For Continuity to work properly you need to be logged in using your ID on both systems.

How Handoff works

When you log in using your Apple ID the magic happens. Launch a compatible app on one device and a link will appear on all your other devices. Tap this link and you can continue working on the same material.

Macworld UK explains the link appears at bottom left of the iOS 8 Lock Screen, or on the left of the Dock in OS X Yosemite. The icon always relates to the last app and device you were working on, the report explains.

Which Apps are supported by Handoff?

Apple has initially promised Handoff support in the following apps:

  • Mail
  • Safari
  • Pages
  • Numbers
  • Keynote
  • Maps
  • Messages
  • Reminders
  • Calendar
  • Contacts

Apple has also made it easy for third-party developers to build Handoff support into their apps. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft implements this in Office, as that would be the killer feature for enterprise users Apple will now attract subsequent to its alliance with IBM.

Sharing files between Mac and iOS

AirDrop seemed great when it appeared, but I don’t use it because it doesn't connect Macs and iOS. This changes with Continuity and now all your devices can speak together and share files.

How do I use the other Continuity features?

Assuming your Mac and iOS devices are linked:

To answer a call on your Mac: When your iPhone is in range of your Mac you will see an alert appear in the OS X Notification Centre when a call comes in. You can take the call on your Mac using the alert, or place a call by selecting and clicking a phone number found in any supporting app.

To handle SMS messages: The same logic applies to messages, these can be read and despatched using the Messages app on your Mac.

Personal Hotspot: Until now you have had to enable your iPhone as a personal hotspot in order to see it appear as an option in your WiFi menu. Now (assuming your carrier allows it) you should see the iPhone appear automatically within that menu, no set-up required.

Not for everyone

As explained here, Continuity won't work on every Mac or iOS device. At present the feature will only be supported on the following systems.

  • MacBook Air (mid-2011 and above)
  • MacBook Pro (mid-2012 and above)
  • Retina MacBook Pro (mid-2012 and above)
  • iMac (late 2012 and above)
  • Mac mini (mid-2011 and above)
  • Mac Pro (2013 and above)
  • iPad models later than iPad 2
  • iPhone 4S and above.

Apple hasn't yet disclosed the system requirements for this feature and the list of supported Macs may change before Yosemite ships.

I do hope this report gives you a sense of what to expect from Continuity when it ships.

Also read:

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