by Jeremy Rogers
Last year’s 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference was marked by the announcement of the Homepod as well as a new configuration of the 10.5 inch iPad, updates to the Macbook line and the all new iMac Pro. This year’s WWDC 2018 has taken a much more software-focused approach.
Among the largest updates presented at the keynote speech were some of the changes that will be coming to iPhone users with the newest edition of Apple’s mobile operating system. Firstly, iOS 12 should be the fastest operating system yet, boasting significantly faster launch speeds for various apps as well as faster launching under heavy use. This speed upgrade will be in effect for devices going as far back as the iPhone 5s and the iPad Air.
FaceTime is also getting an update. Now users will be able to have a group FaceTime with up to 32 people in a single call at once. People speaking in the call will automatically have their image made larger while keeping the screens of quieter callers small.
Animojis have also been updates, with Apple adding four new avatars for users to choose from. Users will also be able to make customized animojis. These new “memojis” can be added to the Animoji drawer for use in Messages. Animojis can now be used for taking pictures and can be placed on the user’s head during FaceTime calls.
Developers now have access to ARKit 2, allowing them even more tools to make augmented reality applications for iPhone users. Apple has partnered with animation studio Pixar to create a standardized Augmented Reality filetype that has been integrated into the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite of software. Apple demonstrated a new app, Measure, which uses AR technology to measure the dimensions of real world objects. A representative from Lego came onstage and demonstrated the possibilies of using AR to play with Lego sets. ARKit 2 allows for a shared AR space, so multiplayer AR is now a possibility, with two presenters simultaneously playing an AR game that used a real-life Lego set as a vantage point. Details about the Lego game were not released.
In a nod towards parents concerned about their kids’ use of their Apple devices, a new feature of iOS 12 named Screen Time gives users a detailed outline of their phone usage. The information shows which types of apps the user spends time using and for how long. It also allows users to set time limits on certain apps. Parents can see the usage of their children’s devices and set limits for their app usage as well.
Siri is also getting an update. Siri will analyze your usage of third party apps to look for patterns it can automate. If it finds something, users will see a suggestion on their lock screen to make a shortcut to perform said action, like consistently ordering a cup of coffee at a certain time through a third party app. iOS users will also now be able to create shortcuts for Siri, grouping together different tasks to be executed under one verbal command. With one phrase, users can send automatic texts, open up a navigation app with a predetermined address, turn on a radio app and more using the Shortcuts app.
That’s not all that’s new for iOS 12. Users will get to experience all the changes that will come along with iOS 12 in the fall.
Tim Cook started the WatchOS 5 segment of the keynote highlighting some of the successes that the Apple Watch has seen in the last year. The Apple Watch has grown 60% last year and has a high rating of customer satisfaction.
To build on the progress made with the growing WatchOS consumer base, updates to the operating system will focus on wellness and connectivity.
To help with wellness, users may now start exercise competitions with their friends to see who can get closer to achieving their workout goals. There are also more types of workouts that are recognized in WatchOS. The Apple Watch will also start to detect workouts automatically so users can be safe from forgetting to start their fitness tracking app.
To stay connected, a new walkie talkie app will be coming out for Apple Watch users. Walkie Talkie will allow for quick real time communications between two Apple Watch users. The sound will travel over cellular networks or through a wifi connection.
Other updates include being able to access websites directly through Messages and simliar updates to the watch face.
Apple TV has seen 50% growth in the last year, and Apple has many updates planned for current customers as well as a few things to entice more people to pick up an Apple TV device of their own.
The first major update to Apple tv is compatibility with Dolby Atmos sound, making the Apple TV 4k the only streaming player to be both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos certified. New additions to Apple TV are live news and live sports coverage.
Apple is now courting television providers to combine Apple’s Apple TV digital delivery platform with their broadcast content. The American cable company Charter Spectrum will be partnering with Apple to stream their content live to Apple TV devices. Apple users will be able to access Charter Spectrum’s live programming on their Apple TVs, iPads, and iPhones.
Mac users will have some updates to look forward to as well with the upcoming macOS Mojave. To start the presentation, Apple focused on some of the more noticeable changes that user will be able to see. Mojave will have a dark mode to change the color of toolbars and menus. The desktop image that shows the desert will have dynamic lighting that changes to match the time of day.
In an effort to increase productivity and organization on the desktop, Apple has introduced a new feature to macOS that automatically sorts items on the desktop into neat stacks. Users will have several options for organizing the contents of each stack (by file type, by metadata, client names, etc.). Another productivity-oriented upgrade are changes to Finder. Now users will be able to edit photos, videos, and other documents though the Quick Actions options in the file preview pane of Finder. This will allow users to work on a file without having to open a different program.
News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos apps will be synced with users’ Macs automatically with Mojave. In addition to that that functionality, the Mac App Store has gotten a big redesign.
Other improvements include more options for taking screenshots and screen sharing, allowing users to take photos with their iPhone and storing them automatically on their Mac, and allowing Mac users to join in FaceTime calls with up to 32 people.
MacOS will also have new features focused on maintaining user privacy, especially from companies like Facebook, who can track users’ internet usage on sites with Facebook plugins whether the user interacts with those plugins or not. Throughout the keynote, Apple highlighted several initiatives aimed at increasing the security and privacy of user information, seemingly taking direct aim at Facebook.
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Overall, this was not a conference about momentous change for Apple, its products, or its customer base. Instead, the focus was on incremental improvements focused on strengthening the Apple ecosystem.
Jeremy is a News Journalism and Telecommunications Major and aPolitical Science and American History Minor. Jeremy is serves as Byte’s News Editor (2017-2019). He also writes reviews, features, and guest stars on podcasts.