New OS, New Opportunities

This week sees the launch of Apple’s latest IOS operating system, and next week sees the launch of their Mac OS, Sierra operating system. These updates to operating systems gives all IOS and Mac OS users an excellent opportunity to review our systems and see how we can take advantage of the new features to our greater productivity good.

No matter what operating system you are using, whether it is IOS, Android or Windows, whenever an updated system comes out, it is incumbent on us to take a good hard look at the new features to see what any of them can do to help us become more productive. Apple, Google and Microsoft’s goal is of course to make money, but they also want to make the lives of their customers better, easier and more fun. With each new iteration of their operating systems some incredibly smart people have spend many, many hours thinking about how they can take advantage of new technology to make our work and personal lives better and easier.

As an Apple user, when Apple launch their new operating systems, I use the lead up time to review how I use my technology at present, and how the new features will make any of my processes, workflows and systems better. One of the biggest changes for me was way back in the early 2000s when Apple introduced their first cloud based service called .mac. (I still use my @mac.com email address) This gave me access to cloud based storage and I happily paid my subscription for the service. It allowed me access to documents I had created on my desktop on my laptop without having to use USB drives. Although it was much criticised at the time, I never had any problems with it and made full use of it. I suppose this is why, despite the criticisms of MobileMe and iCloud, I have happily paid over my money to use the services year after year.

In recent years I have taken a passing interest in Apple’s Reminders and Notes. Sadly, at this stage neither are better than the current apps I use (Todoist and Evernote), but Notes is certainly getting there and I can foresee a future where Apple Notes could replace Evernote as my go to note taking app. (Although the ability to change the text size in Notes on Mac OS Sierra is a huge plus for me!)

Often we just update our devices whenever the time comes or we are pushed to do so without taking any time to look at the new features and how they can improve our lives. This year for example sees a big improvement in Apple’s Photos. I took a good look at the new features and realised I could incorporate many of these features into my workflow. I have undertaken a project to clean up my photos on my computer, deleting off bad or blurred images, accidental videos and other non-required photos. The project involves spending around an hour a week cleaning up one year’s worth of photos. I am up to 2013, and with a bit of a push this week I should have completed the project by the end of the week, ready for Mac OS Sierra’s launch next week.

Of course, the biggest new feature for most Mac users is Siri on the Mac. I have the Beta version installed on my desktop and I have been playing with it to see how I can incorporate Siri on my computer into my workflow. It’s actually quite an enjoyable process. I haven’t found any significant improvement opportunities yet, but searching for documents or for information on the web through Siri, is quite a time saver.

And that’s why, if you want to be the most productive version of yourself, taking some time out to take a good look at the new features in your operating system’s update is time well spent. It is also a lot of fun. From a productive point of view you need to be asking the question how can this improve my systems? Questions like how does the new Android OS improve my ability to link and send attachments in email? How can I incorporate Microsoft Office’s new features into my workflow? How does the new version of Outlook work with my work and personal email system? Playing with and testing these new features can lead you to even greater productivity and at the same time it can lead you down avenues you had not previously thought of.

As most of these companies bring out new operating systems each year, this opportunity to take a look at the way you work and find ways of simplifying and refining your systems is a great use of your time. It is usually only once a year and the time spent playing with the new features, can be rewarded later with a lot of saved time. If you make it a task to play with the new features, it is not procrastination, it is assigned work. It is far better to do this as a specific task than to end up following a rabbit hole later when you are trying to do something and haven’t the faintest idea how to do it.

So, for all you IOS and MacOS users out there, take some time out this week and review the WWDC Event video from June this year, have a look at the new email system, the new photos and the improvements to Notes. You might just be surprised how these new features can improve your overall system. I for one will be taking a closer look at the new iWork suite of apps when they are launched, as the new collaboration tools may make my work much, much easier.

Technology is advancing at a faster rate than ever before, new features, that were previously impossible, are now possible. These new features can often have a profound effect on our ways of working. it is up to us to find these ways and to make them work for us. We live in an exciting time for technology and we would be fools not to take advantage of the latest developments whenever they become available to us to make us even more productive.

Carl Pullein is the author of Your Digital Life: Everything you need to know to get your life organised and put technology to work for you, a book about how to get yourself organised in the twenty-first century

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