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Apple will finally let you use a different keyboard on your iPhone, if you must

Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference today in San Francisco by announcing updates to its popular line of computers and telephones. Among the most notable features coming to the new iOS 8 later this year is an on-screen keyboard called QuickType, which adjusts its suggestions based not only on your own linguistic tendencies but also on the context: The OS will suggest different words if you’re, say, consulting with your boss about company drug-testing policy than it will when you’re texting a close friend to have dinner and maybe blast a couple rails afterward.

iPhone and iPad owners will also be able to install third-party keyboards even though the one Apple came up with is obviously the perfect combination of elegance and function. Apple had previously resisted any major changes to the iOS keyboard, as the original iOS text-input design sprang fully formed from the Steve Jobs godhead. (The famously mercurial Jobs ended his involvement with Apple in 2011 by dying.)


Other highlights of the upcoming iOS update include expanded online photo storage, interactive notifications that let you quickly respond to pop-up messages without launching an app, the ability to “mute” annoying group text conversations, and frameworks to track your fitness or lack thereof.

Apple’s Mac operating system is also on the verge of a version-number bump, graduating to 10.10, nicknamed “Yosemite.” As expected, the free upgrade streamlines the desktop system’s look to bring it in line with the iOS 7/8 “flat design” overhaul, although the revisions on Mac OS aren’t as dramatic as they were on mobile devices. The push toward phone/computer unity is more than superficial, as your iPhone will now talk to your Mac more intimately than before—mostly because it is tired of talking to you, with your poorly designed stubby fingers and your terrible pesto breath that you belch directly into its precision-tuned microphone.

With Yosemite, if you start composing a text message on your iPhone, you can finish it on your Mac. You can make phone calls on your Mac if there’s an iPhone nearby, too. Perhaps the most welcome revelation of the keynote’s Yosemite demo was the “instant hotspot” feature: If your Mac is disconnected from wi-fi but senses the presence of your iPhone, it’ll just use the iPhone’s data connection instead. This is one of those additions that’s exciting mostly because that’s the way it should have worked from the beginning.

Not to be outdone in the quest to merge our computers with our phones, the Windows PC industry today unveiled this thing:

(Photo: Engadget)

Newly minted Apple executive Dr. Dre made a cameo appearance by phone. The company’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, called Dre to welcome him to the company.

Along the way, Federighi nervously told the audience, “I talk to people like this all the time” (not specifying exactly which “people” he meant), he referred to Dre as “Doctor,” and he expressed alarm at the deep baritone voice that answered the phone. It’s likely the whitest phone call Dr. Dre has ever received.


Engadget, Gizmodo, and Re/Code all have further details in their roundups of the announcements from today’s keynote.

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