Handoff – what is it and how it works?

HandoffBecause our iPhones, iPads and iPods touch use iOS, a mobile version of desktop OS X, you can’t run full desktop applications from Mac world. This is often critised, especially in cause of big 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Microsoft regullary points to this in it’s marketing campaign, showing that Surface tablets can run full Windows with all of it’s benefits. But things are gonna better, we got some close-to-desktop-class apps, like MS Office directly from Microsoft. It was presented too in Special Event September 2015 when introducing brand new big iPad Pro. And Affinity, creator of Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer, is going to port theirs great apps for iOS as desktop-class software, not like Pixelmator with it’s very light version for iOS. Affinity confirmed it on Twitter.

So that was my introducing words and how back to theme – Handoff. It’s generally good feature, part of platform that Apple calls Continuity. Just imagine to start working on iPad and after you come home, continue on your Mac and vice versa. You can start writing a document on iPad while outdoor and when you get home, you can continue on your desktop Mac.

Please don’t forged, that it requires optimized software on both Mac and iDevice. Here is list of supported Mac apps directly from Apple:

  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Mail
  • Maps
  • Messages
  • Notes
  • Phone (iOS only)
  • Reminders
  • Safari
  • Pages (Mac version from version 5.5 or later and iOS version from 2.5 and later)
  • Numbers (Mac version from version 3.5 or later and iOS version from 2.5 and later)
  • Keynote (Mac version from version 6.5 or later and iOS version from 2.5 and later)

And don’t forget, you will need supported devices to run Handoff:

Supported Macs:

  • MacBook Air (Mid 2012 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 and later)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015 and later)
  • iMac (Late 2012 and later)
  • Mac mini (Late 2012 and later)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013)

Supported iPhones, iPads, iPods touch:

  • iPhones – iPhone 5 or later
  • iPads – both iPads Pro, both iPads Air, all iPads mini and iPad 4th generation
  • iPod touch – 5th generation or later.

OS X Yosemite or later required for Mac, iDevices need iOS 8 and higher.

For using Handoff, you need to be on same wi-fi network with Bluetooth turned on using same Apple ID on all your devices.

How it works?

Just launch Handoff-enabled app and start creating document. In this case, I have used Ulysses on iPad. In this scenario, an icon will apperars on the left side of dock:

Handoff Mac

Note: if you have dock on left or right side of screen, icon will appears at top.

Just click on new icon from Handoff-enabled app and you can continue on Mac. Amazing.

If you use Ulysses on Mac and want to continue on iDevice, in this scenario iPad Pro, just double-tap Home Button on iDevice and Handoff-enabled app will show at bottom:

Handoff iOS

Just touch down banner and swipe to top. Now you are ready to continue on iDevice. You can do it even on locked screen, just tap Handoff-enabled app’s icon on locked screen and swipe top. If you have password/passcode (or Touch ID), you will have to enter it, so no worries about security.

Note: If you want to write on iDevice, then continue on Mac and then continue on iDevice again, I strongly recommend exit Handoff-enabled app before turning back to iPad. If you are confused, I will explain that: writing on iPad –> then continue on Mac via Handoff -> after finishing editing on Mac, quit Handoff-enabled app on iDevice (keep Mac version open!) -> double-tap Home Button -> select Handoff-enabled app in bottom panel –> continue working on iPad. If you later decide to continue again on Mac, just close Mac version of Handoff-enabled app (keep iOS version open!), then open it by clicking on icon on left side of dock (again, if you have dock at left or right, it will appears on top). Done.

You can turn off Handoff on your devices. On iOS devices, go to Settings -> General -> Handoff & Suggested Apps. Then turn off Handoff. On Mac, go to System Preferences -> General. Then uncheck the Allow Handoff setting.

Some 3rd-party software for Mac and iDevices I use are here, find them in (Mac) App Store:

  • Ulysses by Soulmen GbR
  • PDF Expert by Readdle
  • PCalc by TLA Systems Ltd.
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