It’s that time of the year – Apple’s annual worldwide developer conference (WWDC), where new technologies and updates to the existing ones in Apple’s platforms are announced to the public. It’s the time when iOS developers start testing their apps to see which of the introduced changes might have broken their products. Also, the time innovators eagerly anticipate, to start exploring the new technologies and how they might be utilized in their existing apps or in completely new ideas. It’s an exciting time with lots of expectations and wishes, and Apple always delivers (and sometimes even surprises us). So let’s see what’s new in this edition.
Keep making apps. The world is depending on you!
It all started with an interesting commercial, which shows how the world might look like (read apocalypse), without apps. So Apple wants to encourage you, keep making apps!
The first thing Tim Cook announced was that Amazon is coming to Apple TVs with its prime video content. Apple’s TV app, which was released last year, is going strong, with over 50 partners now.
Starting watchOS 4, Apple Watches will have a new Siri watch face, which will display information that’s most relevant to you. It uses machine learning to figure out which data to display, and it will also use content from third party apps. Apart from Siri watch face, there will be some other, not that useful faces, like kaleidoscope and toy story characters.
Apple keeps on improving on the health aspect of the watch, with workout improvements, like the high intensity interval training and the NFC communication with gym machines to extract all the information like burned calories and covered distance from the machine, directly to the watch.
They also announced a new music app and other features interesting mostly to developers, like screen autorotation and tracking the user’s location in the background.
The successor of Sierra has a very creative name – High Sierra. Craig Federighi (the guy with the cool hair from Apple), announced some interesting improvements and announcements to macOS.
Safari on High Sierra is the fastest browser around, topping all browsers in benchmark tests. It also has an autoplay block, which means you won’t get the annoying self starting videos on Safari anymore (looking at you goal.com!). Safari will also block intelligent tracking, so when you buy or look for something at a website, you will not see it everywhere afterwards, thus protecting your privacy.
There are Mail improvements, which now uses less storage and supports split screen support, as well as Photos app improvements.
The new Apple File System, which was introduced on iOS 10.3, is now coming to the Mac OS as well.
One big thing for the macOS is the focus on VR – now there’s a new Metal framework for VR, as well as support for Unity and Unreal engines to the Mac.
The next iOS release, 11th in a row, also a lot of improvements:
Messages – The messages app now has a new app drawer, which allows you to select app you want to use in iMessages at the bottom:
Also, all the conversations are now synced in iCloud, and available across all devices (not sure that’s a good thing though). However, it reduces the backup size to messages, since only the most recent messages are restored on the phone.
Apple Pay – Big announcement was that Apple Pay will support person to person payments, directly through the iMessage app. Let’s hope this, and other Apple Pay features, will be available in more countries soon.
Siri – Siri now has a new, more human voice and a new visual interface. It supports live translation, so you can say something like “Hey Siri, how do you say *something* in Chinese”, and Siri will provide the translated something in Chinese. Siri is also enhanced with machine learning, to suggest topics, provide help with reservations etc. All this information and learning is securely synchronized between devices.
Camera – You can select key photo now from live photos and developers can utilize the new Depth API:
Control Center – It’s completely redesigned, making more use of Apple’s 3D touch technology. Let’s see how we will get used to this new Control Center.
HomeKit – HomeKit can now support controlling of the volume of the speakers in the home.
Apple Music – There’s a new MusicKit for developers, which enables developers to provide features like, for example, exercises playlists to the Music app. There’s now also social aspect to Apple Music, through which you can see what your friends are listening.
App Store – App Store has a brand new look and Apple now promises even faster app review times and phased releases (gradual release of a new version to subset of users).
Machine Learning – Throughout the Keynote, we’ve heard a lot about how Apple’s core APIs become smarter with machine learning. With the new Core ML, this functionality is also available to developers, which provides a lot of machine learning and natural processing algorithms.
Augmented Reality – Apple is joining the AR battle with Microsoft and Google, by announcing ARKit for developers. I wouldn’t be surprised if they launch a new AR hardware product as well soon.
There’s a new iPad Pro and there are a lot of enhancements to it as well, like in the hardware and camera:
Drag and drop functionality is also enabled on the iPad, as well as a new Files app, based on Apple’s new File System. Also, now you can use Apple pencil and there’s a new screenshot editing tool. Handwriting is also recognized by the iPad.
One Last Thing
The last thing Apple announced, is a new speaker, called HomePod. It’s intended to be used in the home and rock the house! It should be available later this year. You can buy this thing for $349.
Generally speaking, except from the HomePod, there are no major surprises and announcements from Apple this year, just gradual improvements. However, the Keynote only touches everything on a high level, without much details on the bigger changes in the APIs for developers. Can’t wait to see the sessions on SiriKit, ARKit and Core ML in the next few days to see what these APIs have to offer to the developers.
*all images are courtesy to Apple