Apple shows off at WWDC 2016
Apple’s annual WWDC (Worldwide Developer Conference) is an event that showcases all of Apple’s products, updates and technologies to software developers and the world. Attendees get hands-on labs with Apple engineers and in-depth sessions about various Apple-related topics. So, what did this year’s conference bring?
The return of macOS and the Sierra update
The operating system of the Mac, Apple’s personal computer, underwent a name change from OS X to macOS, which is a return to its original name. The current operating system, known as El Capitan, will be updated and called Sierra.
The Sierra update will aim to create more continuity across all Apple devices. Apple demonstrated the Universal Clipboard, a tool with which you can copy info on one device and then paste it into other devices. Another component of this continuity is the ability to save one’s Mac desktop to the cloud to access from another computer via iCloud. Furthermore, cloud storage for old files was introduced as well as the ability to unlock your Mac with the Apple Watch.
Sierra will also bring Siri, Apple’s intelligent personal assistant, to the Mac desktop. Users will be able to use voice control to search the web, find files, send messages and so on.
A beta version of Sierra will become available in July 2016 with a final version to be released during autumn, or spring if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere.
At WWDC iOS 10 was officially announced and there were quite a few new and improved features, including:
- Any apps installed on your iOS-enabled devices will be added to other devices, including Apple TV (or tvOS).
- The Universal Clipboard (mentioned above) allows copying and pasting across devices.
- A “Raise to Wake” feature has been included for the iPhone. With this feature the lock screen will “wake up” as soon as the phone is lifted up so that one can view notifications and updates immediately.
- Apple is opening up Siri to developers. This means that Siri can be integrated with third-party apps like WhatsApp and Slack. For example, you’ll be able to ask Siri “Send a WhatsApp message to Peter saying I’ll be there shortly” and Siri will open up WhatsApp directly to send the message.
- Siri will also have more contextual awareness. Suggestions will be made based on the user’s calendar, their location, recent addresses visited and so forth.
- The Photos app is also getting an update with better object and scene awareness for easier sorting and recall. It can also create highlight reels of, for example, a recent road trip or create albums based on a specific location visited.
- Apple Maps has been improved and now includes traffic information, alternative routes if need be, a cleaner user interface and driving instructions that can be synced with your car’s electronics. It is also, like Siri, being opened up to developers and third-party apps which means you can book a table or a taxi within Maps.
- Apple Music is also going to get a facelift with a “redesign from the ground up”. All of the current tabs seems to be staying, but with lyrics added to the new design.
- The Messages app will get the ability to play videos within the message itself as well as larger emojis. While typing your message, words that can be turned into emojis will be highlighted which users can then tap to change immediately if they want. It’s also getting bubble effects as well as animations within messages. Apple Music is being integrated with Messages to play music within sent messages.
- When it comes to the all-important Phone app, it will now be able to detect whether an unknown caller is likely spam and then label them as such. There is also voicemail transcription so that you can read your voicemail instead of listen to it.
- Users now have the option to uninstall some of the iPhone’s default apps like Stocks (who really uses that anyways?) and Weather which will help free up storage space for those who want it.
- People can now collaborate with others on the Notes app.
- An “Invisible ink” privacy feature allows you to hide a message until the recipient swipes over it.
iOS 10 is already out in beta and will be available for download by the public somewhere around September of this year (depending on how testing goes).
Other funky announcements
Apple has created their own iPad app for kids called Swift Playgrounds. It teaches kids Apple’s programming language Swift with the help of fun, interactive games. Using the app doesn’t require any prior coding knowledge and will teach kids (or anyone for that matter) the fundamentals like loops, operators, bug fixing and more.
Apple Watch, with the newly-announced watchOS 3, is also getting some updates after a dodgy start. Its speed will be seven times more than its predecessor, and apps now load in the background for instant use. A new control centre and dock similar to iOS has been introduced. The new watchOS will also feature a new health app specifically for wheelchair users busy with rehabilitation, as well as the Breathe app for managing daily stresses with meditation exercises.