Apple’s Handoff and Continuity Work Now; So What?

I wrote about a month ago about my travails getting Handoff and Continuity features to work on my Macs and iOS devices. With the exception of my MacBook Pro, which does not work at all with these features, all my other devices – my iMac, iPhone, iPad Air 2 and iPod touch – work. It’s clear that the problems are on Apple’s side; something to do with devices being correctly registered with their servers.

Handoff

But now that they do work, so what? While these are certainly gee-whiz features – the ability to start an email on one device, then finish it on another; accessing a web page on one, then viewing it on another device – there’s really not much point. With the exception of text messages and phone calls, I think I’ve used these features about twice, not counting testing.

While these features are a good idea on paper, how often do you really want to start an email on your iPhone then finish it on your Mac? If your Mac is close enough for Handoff or Continuity to work (I still don’t know which is which; Apple should have just one name for these features), then you’d be more likely to start the email on the Mac.

Handoff2

The only times I’ve used it was when I was looking at a web page in the living room or bedroom, then realized I wanted to see it on my Mac, such as to order something. I went to my office, then accessed the web page. But I could have done that with iCloud Tabs, which works (more or less) well.

I really can’t imagine using these features with Pages or Numbers documents, because if I’m creating a document, and I’m near my Mac, then I want to use that. If I’m just editing or viewing a document, it often doesn’t matter which device I use. And since I store them either in iCloud or Dropbox, I can easily access them from any device.

So this is another example of a feature that looks good (remember the fast user switching cube animation, that Steve Jobs happily explained that they do it “because we can?”) but that really doesn’t have much real-world application. I wonder; do you, dear readers, use these features, other than for text messages and phone calls?

12 thoughts on “Apple’s Handoff and Continuity Work Now; So What?

  1. I can think of a few situations in which this feature could be useful, but in my experience it is neither intuitive to use nor reliable. When it was announced, I was really looking forward to using it. I could see myself starting to write an email on the couch with my iPad, then wanting to switch to my Mac when I realise that it’s going to be a long one and I want to use a proper keyboard to finish it and make a few edits. But after several months, I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to do to make this work!

    Similarly, I could have started writing an email on my Mac and then realise I have to run out the door and maybe I’ll finish the email on the bus. But in this case I would just save it as a draft. At least I know how to do that, and I can feel pretty sure it’ll work as expected!

  2. I can think of a few situations in which this feature could be useful, but in my experience it is neither intuitive to use nor reliable. When it was announced, I was really looking forward to using it. I could see myself starting to write an email on the couch with my iPad, then wanting to switch to my Mac when I realise that it’s going to be a long one and I want to use a proper keyboard to finish it and make a few edits. But after several months, I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to do to make this work!

    Similarly, I could have started writing an email on my Mac and then realise I have to run out the door and maybe I’ll finish the email on the bus. But in this case I would just save it as a draft. At least I know how to do that, and I can feel pretty sure it’ll work as expected!

  3. “I really can’t imagine using these features with Pages or Numbers documents”

    I just can’t imagine working seriously on a Numbers document on a iOS device. It’s just unusable (and with the latest OS X version, it’s barely usable on a Mac). And using iCloud solves the issue already.

    • Well, you can use them on an iPad, but on an iPhone they’re ridiculous. As you say, using iCloud makes a lot more sense; because even if you use Handoff/Continuity, it’s just picking up the document that’s stored in iCloud.

  4. “I really can’t imagine using these features with Pages or Numbers documents”

    I just can’t imagine working seriously on a Numbers document on a iOS device. It’s just unusable (and with the latest OS X version, it’s barely usable on a Mac). And using iCloud solves the issue already.

    • Well, you can use them on an iPad, but on an iPhone they’re ridiculous. As you say, using iCloud makes a lot more sense; because even if you use Handoff/Continuity, it’s just picking up the document that’s stored in iCloud.

  5. I dunno, I kinda like the fact that they are there if I need them. It’s true, I’ve only used it a tiny handful of times, but mainly because my main iOS device – an iPhone 4S – is too old to have this feature, so I only see it come up if I’m using the iPad. Many times I’ve had to email or iMessage myself with a web url so that I could continue on my Mac or vice versa. I’m actually looking forward to getting a new iPhone so I can make more use of this feature.

    So, even if most people don’t use it all that much, I think it’s a good selling point for integration between Apple devices, and I’m sure it’ll help them sell more when pitching the plus points to customers in their stores.

  6. I dunno, I kinda like the fact that they are there if I need them. It’s true, I’ve only used it a tiny handful of times, but mainly because my main iOS device – an iPhone 4S – is too old to have this feature, so I only see it come up if I’m using the iPad. Many times I’ve had to email or iMessage myself with a web url so that I could continue on my Mac or vice versa. I’m actually looking forward to getting a new iPhone so I can make more use of this feature.

    So, even if most people don’t use it all that much, I think it’s a good selling point for integration between Apple devices, and I’m sure it’ll help them sell more when pitching the plus points to customers in their stores.

  7. I had the same thoughts when this was announced. I occasionally use it but honestly could have done it with iCloud Tabs or simply finished the email on my phone. For call handoff it’s useless. The call quality on my MBP is horrible even though I have very good bandwidth (50-75 Mbps). It never works with my iPad. Yet Skype is flawless. Go figure.

  8. I had the same thoughts when this was announced. I occasionally use it but honestly could have done it with iCloud Tabs or simply finished the email on my phone. For call handoff it’s useless. The call quality on my MBP is horrible even though I have very good bandwidth (50-75 Mbps). It never works with my iPad. Yet Skype is flawless. Go figure.

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