I have a feeling this could be the lowest hit post of this year – but I’m not bothered. Apple’s events always manage to wow even the most hardcore of IT geeks (me included) and my interest was peaked a little more with rumours around iPadOS and the potential of Apple switching from Intel to ARM-based processors.
So if you’re unaware, WWDC stands for World Wide Developer conference, so this is generally the one focused around software changes Apple are due to implement, unlike their Special events which often see the oooh and aaahs as they release shiny new iPhones, iPads and Macs.
It was a little different this year because, like all conferences, it was online only, and in the only way Apple could, they made it as slick as possible. There wasn’t any backgrounds of homes, or kids running in – this was a well edited, CGI intros, the whole lot. I mean it’s Apple, so its expected – but from the opener from Tim Cook it was superbly delivered.
In a bold opening Tim talked inside the Steve Jobs Theatre in Apple Park, Cupertino about the pain and suffering across the US in the black and brown communities. Plenty of people online have said this is Apple jumping ‘on the bandwagon’ but in all fairness to Tim, not only did he deliver his speech with empathy, such is the power of the Apple brand, I would be surprised if this didn’t leave a lasting thought in a number of their loyal followers.
I want to address the topic of racism, inequality and injustice and to recognise the pain being felt throughout our nation, especially in our black and brown communities, after the senseless killing of George FloydTim cook, apple ceo
Apple split their announcements into the four main OS’ they support:
- iOS (iPhone)
- tvOS (Apple TV)
So iOS 14 is coming, whats new I hear you ask? Most average Joe’s will be excited about widgets coming to the home screen, the ability to hide pages of your home screen or the ‘auto-sorting’ of your apps (App Library). Nice features, not game changers and once you’ve done it once – you’ll never use the feature again. Don’t get me wrong, well implemented, but nothing to get me excited.
Oh, and Apple – just an FYI, picture in picture is something that was on a 2005 Sony TV I had, I didn’t use it then, I didn’t use it when Android did it god knows how many years ago – and I don’t need it now. Oh and I’m not getting excited about Siri not taking up the whole screen!
Anyway, enough of the negativity – there was some interface tweaks I liked. The implementation around Group chats within iMessage was excellent. Replying to threads, focusing in on particular message threads are handy features, especially if, like me, you are subjected to a group containing 10+ people.
Now the digital car key… finally what looks like a superb implementation alongside BMW. I hope this tech doesn’t have be isolated to £60k+ saloons, and that as many of the car manufacturers get on board. The sharing of digital keys is excellent too – I could lend the car to the wife and not let her go above 40mph – fantastic!
The best part here though comes from App Clips, a smaller version of the App Store apps. This implementation is very easy, as I can think of numerous times I need to use an app, but literally I will use it once. Think about checking on to a flight, paying for parking, or ordering some food in a local Wetherspoons 😉
A new photos app is lovely, with the fancy sidebar – but I think most we’re audiably hearing a sigh of relief when they saw positive changes to the Files app. Its one of the big issues preventing iPads being used more frequently, so bravo to Apple here.
Nice to see spotlight (rebranded as Search) appearing here, another feature which will be appreciated by those with far to many apps knocking about thier device.
Scribble was announced which allows people to handwrite (using the Apple Pencil) into any text box, and it’ll convert it to typed text. Really quite handy, but I imagine a lot of users have a keyboard, either folio or magic and its far quicker to type than to tilt your ipad down and write into it.
WatchOS7 was annouced with new watch face customisations and the ability to share those faces online or via iMessage. It now tracks dance as an activity, although its yet to be seen whether Dad Dancing qualifies… watch this space people. Sleep tracking is another feature that arrives for those Apple Watch users, a nice feature, but long, long overdue.
What was clever, although a bit gimicky, was it tracking when and for how long you are washing your hands – very topical given the pandemic but clever use of the tech at your disposal.
Some minor updates here, picture in picture support – which is handy in this instance as it links through to any Homekit compatible CCTV camera – so you can issue a command to view your back garden whilst you’re watching a re-run of Blackadder. The only other news that was buried was that Apple TV will now support YouTube content in 4K – something that has been a bug bearer for a while.
Not a tvOS update, but the Homekit accessories now support facial recognition, but as this is all part of the Apple Ecosystem, it can utelise those faces that Photos recognise making things that little bit more simple.
The big news of the day was Apple announcing that the latest version of Mac OS was not going to be another OSX flavour, but we will all soon have OS 11 – Big Sur.
Although there were tonnes of new features announced, including new visuals, it was the announcement of Apple moving to their own silicon for future hardware rather than the Intel-based chips they’ve been using since 2006. This is particularly interesting – Apple are the only business who write their own OS and exclusively product their own hardware – hence why their iPhones and iPads have always some of the most performant devices out there.
Their 2 year transition period in lengthy and only time will tell how the developers migrate their apps to the new platform, but seeing the Adobe and Microsoft’s of the world already up and working certainly gives some encouragement.
The most notable features in Big Sur will be new design, with more “depth, shading and translucency”. I applaud the return of colour as I have felt Catalina has become a bit drab looking.
The next big feature was the introduction of the control center, fresh from IOS but with more customisation. You can adjust the display, sound, wifi, etc – and if its something you use more frequently, you can pull it out of the control center and put it on the menubar.
Safari has had a redesign, supposedly 50% quicker than Chrome… don’t hold your breath on that. I do welcome some solid support for extensions – Safari has always lagged behind on that.
Maps has had some improvements, particularly around indoor maps, etc – but in all honesty, a lot of it is just keeping up with Google – nothing groundbreaking here either.
Another interesting WWDC by Apple, I think September when the rumoured new devices will be announced will be far more interesting, but another productive year done in Apple Park in my view.