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OS X 10.10 Yosemite, iOS 8.1, and Apple Pay Have Arrived

After months of testing since its developer release at the World Wide Developer’s Conference in June 2014, Apple has now released OS X 10.10 Yosemite. (If you haven’t been paying attention, you can read about its major new features in our initial coverage in “Apple Unveils iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite at WWDC,” 2 June 2014). Yosemite is available for free in the Mac App Store as a 5.16 GB download. Refer to Apple’s system requirements to see if your Mac can run Yosemite (most will, and the base requirements are the same as Mavericks), and if it will support all of Yosemite’s new features (many older Macs won’t, partly due to Continuity’s need for Bluetooth 4.0).

The most noticeable change in Yosemite is a new visual design that takes its cues from iOS. It also brings compatibility with Apple’s new iCloud Drive service and offers a slew of Continuity features to make working between Apple devices easier.

As always, we recommend waiting a few days before updating to see if any major issues develop and then proceeding with caution according to the time-tested advice in Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Upgrading to Yosemite.” For more on the new features, also check out Joe’s “Digital Sharing for Apple Users: A Take Control Crash Course” and Scholle McFarland’s “Yosemite: A Take Control Crash Course.”

After Yosemite’s release on 16 October 2014, Apple pushed out iOS 8.1 and Apple Pay on 20 October 2014. The iOS 8.1 update is much smaller than the 5 GB iOS 8.0, ranging from 70 to 127 MB, depending on the device being updated.

With iOS 8.1, Apple seeks to remedy common user complaints, most notably by bringing back the Camera Roll in the Photos app, but only when iCloud Photo Library is not enabled. The update also opens up the beta of iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to sync all your photos and videos between your Apple devices (as long as they’re running iOS 8.1, Yosemite, or Apple TV 7.0 or later). However, the Mac version of Photos, which will provide iCloud Photo Library support, won’t be available until early 2015, so access via the Mac will be limited to iCloud’s Web interface until then.

Another promised feature that arrives in iOS 8.1 is SMS Relay, which enables you to send and receive iPhone SMS (green bubble) messages via the Yosemite version of Messages.

iOS 8.1 also adds Apple Pay support to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, although Apple Pay is currently limited to the United States (for details, see “Apple Pay Aims to Disrupt Payment Industry,” 9 September 2014). Since the initial announcement last month, Apple has signed up 500 more banks to the program, in addition to credit card companies American Express, MasterCard, and Visa. You will be able to use Apple Pay at a growing number of major retailers, such as American Eagle, Foot Locker, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Office Depot, Panera Bread, Subway, Walgreens, and Whole Foods.

Other improvements in iOS 8.1 include:

  • Low-space alerts before capturing Time Lapse videos

  • Fixes for Messages search, marking messages as read, and issues with group messaging

  • Resolution of Wi-Fi performance issues with some base stations

  • A fix for a bug that could prevent Bluetooth connections with some hands-free devices

  • A fix for a bug that could prevent screen rotation

  • The option to select between 2G, 3G, and LTE cellular networks

  • Fixes for a Safari issue that would prevent video playback

  • AirDrop sharing support for Passbook

  • The capability to enable keyboard dictation separate from Siri

  • HealthKit-enabled apps can now access data in the background

  • A number of improvements to accessibility

  • Fixes for an issue that prevented the use of OS X Caching Server for iOS updates

If you want help with iOS 8, we hope to have it soon, in the form of my “iOS 8: A Take Control Crash Course.” You can pre-order now, and we’re working hard to integrate details about features that weren’t fully operational before the release of Yosemite, along with the just-released changes in iOS 8.1.

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