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Apple Continuity

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News January 2015

Apple Continuity connects all your Apple devices for an easier, more convenient system for work and communication.

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I’ve been trying to figure out this arrangement for years.

I’m usually on the phone throughout the day and frequently dictating emails and other text in my computer. For years, I’ve either worn two headsets or struggled to make a quick switch to answer a phone call.

In the past, I used a portable telephone with a corded headset to make and receive phone calls. For dictation into the computer, I needed another headset connected to my laptop via USB.

I tried various configurations for years to simplify and use one headset, but none of them were seamless. They all needed some sort of interface, physical connections and flipping a switch to move from dictation to using the phone.

None of these headset changes or switches are easy for someone living with quadriplegia.

I’ve been using the headsets even though voice over IP has been available on the computer for quite a while and you can make phone calls with Skype, but for an added fee.

Doing Much More

However, with the release of Apple’s newest operating systems, OS X Yosemite and iOS8, a new solution allows you to receive and make phone calls from your computer (desktop, laptop or tablet) via your iPhone.

Apple’s Continuity feature in Yosemite makes connecting your laptop, desktop or other Mac device with your iPhone much simpler and more powerful.

The feature makes it possible for me to dictate, pause and answer a phone call using the same headset. Continuity really goes beyond the ability to make and receive phone calls, but that’s one of the key features and it’s a good place to start exploring.

Phone

So, your iPhone is ringing in the other room or deep in your pocket. The new integration ends the need to travel to another room or dig into your pants for the phone.

Instead of needing to get the phone, you’ll see a notification on your computer’s desktop. You then click and answer, “Hello.”

To make a call it’s as simple as moving to your contacts and clicking on the number to dial. If a phone number is referenced in a calendar event or a webpage when using Safari, those two can just be clicked as well.

It’s especially useful for conference calls where both a number and a conference code are required.

Text Messages

Sending a text message from your computer to someone’s smartphone used to be a bit problematic.

Now, with the Continuity feature, outgoing messages to a phone number not registered with Mac Messages, Mac OS’s messaging interface, are sent via your iPhone.

However, don’t be fooled! Regular message costs will still be incurred depending on the type of billing plan you use.

Handoff

Another great feature of Yosemite’s Continuity is the ability to keep working on projects when you need to switch devices.

The Handoff feature lets you start writing a report on your iMac and continue it on your iPad when heading to a meeting.

An icon representing the last app you were using will appear on your second device (in the Dock on your Mac or on the lock screen on your iOS device). Click or swipe to pick up right where you left off without having to search for the file.

Handoff works with Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar and Contacts.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is a major necessity in today’s world and it can be very frustrating (and possibly costly to your phone bill, too) when you’re not connected. Yosemite’s Continuity feature helps fix that issue.

With Instant Hotspot, your Mac can remotely activate the Personal Hotspot on your iPhone when they’re near each other. This feature lists your iPhone in the list of available networks (given it’s nearby).

Simply select your iPhone from the Wi-Fi menu on your Mac and you’ll be online in seconds. You don’t even have to take your iPhone out of your pocket or bag.

You’ll be able to keep track of the signal strength and your iPhone’s battery life at the top of the Wi-Fi menu. After you’re finished, the hotspot automatically deactivates to preserve battery life.

Game Changer

Obviously, this article is solely focused on Apple products like the iPhone, iPad and MacBook.

However, it does show how technology is advancing and increasingly ubiquitous. It’s a safe bet other computer manufacturers will soon follow Apple’s lead.

It’s also important to note these advancements in computer and mobile device operating systems are a big game changer for someone like me living with quadriplegia.

These advancements weren’t developed specifically for persons living with a disability or an accessibility need. It’s just good universal design we benefit from.

Suggestions and insights for future Tech Talk articles are welcome and can be sent to Dr.Larsen@buyvet.com.

 

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