A great thing about iOS 8 and Yosemite was the creation of new communication links between iOS devices and Macs. When they were released to the public those links were there to an extent but there were significant issues with reliability. Subsequent updates to both platforms have improved reliability. The experience when those links work is excellent, but one or two issues remain. This is actually the kind of thing that I expected once I got my first iPhone (I was already a Mac user), when it didn’t materialise it was what I always hoped for. Here are some aspects of this new integration that I find most useful.
Airdrop. Useful method for quickly pinging something between Mac and iPhone. I take a lot of video on my iPhone and then edit it in iMovie on my Mac. I used to have to plug in the phone to transfer video files, but now I can Airdrop them wirelessly and it isn’t slow. Aside from the ease of transfer I like this method because it avoids charging my phone. That’s good for two reasons: (1) I dislike partially charging my phone between full charges, (2) if my MacBook is on battery power it’s discharge cycle will take a big hit by charging my phone.
It needs to be said that a mysterious problem affects Airdrop. Sometimes Airdrop won’t work if sending from an iOS device to a Mac – the Mac doesn’t show up as an option even though the iOS devices do show up on the Mac. This has happened only a few times but it is incredibly frustrating when it does occur. As of yet I haven’t tracked down a cause of the bug and there is no obvious cure. I have tried numerous reboots, turning Handoff/Airdrop off and on, unpairing and repairing devices in bluetooth. Nothing seems to solve the issue, it mysteriously resolves itself after a couple of days of not trying anything in particular.
SMS – Continuity. This was really troublesome when it was initially released. If you were put off by a bad experience you should try it again now. Being able to text from my laptop makes life quite a bit easier when I’m working at my laptop.
Pocket – Handoff. Read an article on iPhone, sit down at my desk and pick up where I left off on my Mac.
iWork – Handoff. Tweak a document on iPad, arrive at my desk and finish it off with precision on my Mac.
Personal Hotspot. Entering the Settings app and activating a personal hotspot is now largely a thing of the past. The new method of an instant hotspot from the Wi-Fi menu is incredibly convenient – it just makes sense. Generally speaking it works well, though I have run into a couple of instances of a failed attempt.
A Word of Caution : older Macs (pre 2012) do not support the useful features of Yosemite! I discovered this to my huge disappointment when I performed a clean install of Yosemite on my 2011 iMac. I cannot use Handoff, but more galling is the fact that I cannot Airdrop between my iPhone and iMac! Even between my newer MacBook and iMac an Airdrop requires me to choose the “Older Mac” option in the Finder window, which makes the process very clunky indeed. I’m strongly considering going back to Mavericks or upgrading the Bluetooth chipset.