Apple kicked off it’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference with a laundry list of improvements coming soon to the iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV, iPad and more. Here’s a look at some of the biggest changes.
San Jose, CA – WWDC 2019 kicked off with a keynote from Apple executives including CEO Tim Cook. The company showed off the many changes coming soon to Apple products through software updates arriving this fall. Here’s a look at some of the most notable improvements.
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The next version of iOS will be iOS 13 and the feature that got the biggest response is dark mode! Not only will built-in apps get a dark look but the feature will allow app developers to link their dark modes to the systemwide setting, which can be toggled on or off manually or on a schedule.
Apple says iOS 13 is focused on performance – apps will download faster and load quicker. Face ID will also perform 30% faster.
Siri is also getting a new voice – for the first time ever, her speech is completely computer synthesized. In a demo, Siri sounded more natural than ever, which is hard to believe since Apple is no longer relying on any human recordings to create her voice.
The built-in keyboard on iPhone is getting a swipe to type feature. Apple calls it QuickPath. Sure, it’s been available on the iPhone for a while but you used to need a third-party keyboard like Google’s Gboard or Swiftkey.
iPhone will add a feature to help filter robocalls – you can now send unknown callers straight to voicemail. And it’s not just a standard filter – Apple is applying a level of AI and Siri Smarts to help make sure calls you might want to answer from unknown numbers actually ring your phone.
CarPlay is also getting it’s biggest update yet with a redesigned home screen. Plus, Siri voice controls will work with more third-party navigation and music apps. Waze and Pandora were announced for launch.
When it comes to privacy, Apple is taking a big stance. The company is creating a “sign in with Apple” button which is similar to what Google and Facebook offer. The difference here is that you can choose whether to share your personal information including name and email address with the website or app you’re signing up with. In a controversial move, Apple might require developers to use their new sign in button if they offer any other similar buttons. We will have to see how this one plays out, but it could potentially be fantastic for user privacy and cutting down on email spam.
Apple Watch continues to be the absolute best smartwatch out there, and improvements in watchOS 6 will make it even handier.
The Apple Watch will get it’s own App Store – which means you can download apps to the watch even if your phone isn’t nearby. The watch is also getting some new built-in apps including Audiobooks, Voice Memos and a Calculator. The calculator had dedicated buttons for figuring out tips and bill splits – handy when you’re paying the bill at a restaurant. Apple Watch is also getting a cycle tracker for female health.
Another interesting app the Apple Watch is getting is hearing related. The watch will monitor the sound quality of the environment around you and notify you if things are getting too loud. You’ll see a decibel reading and information about how the loudness can affect your hearing over time. Will be interesting to see this react to concerts and constructions sites.
Apple also announced that streaming audio is expanding on the Apple Watch past its own Apple Music and radio stations. They showed off streaming audio of an MLB game, but perhaps this means it’s only a matter of time before we’ll get a proper Spotify app for the watch.
Apple TV is getting a new home screen with a feature borrowed from Netflix: full-screen video trailers that play as you hover over an item. Personally, I hope this feature can be turned off as it always feels so in your face, but that’s just me.
Apple TV will also support multiple user profiles so everyone has their own personalized recommendations screen. Switching between profiles seems pretty easy. New screen savers on the Apple TV will take users under the sea.
The next version of macOS is named Catalina, after the tiny island off the coast of Los Angeles.
Catalina kills off iTunes – the software will no longer ship with the desktop operating system. In it’s place will be three apps: Apple Music, Apple TV and Apple Podcasts. Existing music, movie and TV purchases and any music you’ve ripped will now move inside the appropriate apps. You’ll still be able to buy music but obviously, those choices will no longer be front and center. The emphasis will be on subscribing to Apple Music. $10 a month gets you all the rented music you can ever think of. Stop paying and your access simply goes away.
As for iPhone syncing – if you still plug in your iPhone to sync it, that will be handled by Finder. And to add to the confusion, if you’re on Windows, iTunes will remain as is, at least for now. Stay tuned on that one.
If you have an iTunes gift card, it will still continue to work just as it did before.
One cool feature about Catalina: it will allow you to use an iPad as a second display wirelessly. This means you can edit video on your primary screen and have your chat app or email on a second screen. The possibilities are endless.
iPad is getting its own new operating system, called iPadOS, which puts widgets on the home screen and finally lets you plug in an external drive such as a Flash Drive, memory card or even a hard drive. The iPad might finally be able to take over duties once done on a laptop. One developer even found that it now supports a mouse.
This was one of the best WWDC’s I’ve been too in years. Lots of great, useful new features in Apple products coming soon to a screen near you. Keep in mind, a lot of these features will actually arrive on devices in the Fall (usually late September) as a free software update.