At WWDC 2018, Apple showcased the major changes coming to iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS platforms this year. It also revealed significant improvements to ARKit, the world’s largest augmented reality platform, and improvements to tackle technology addiction among users of Apple devices.
As reported earlier, the worldwide developer conference was a relatively silent event with not much of a takeaway for developers. The event showed how Apple is shifting its focus from announcing a ton of features to improving underlying technologies and core features of its four major platforms. The keynote also did not see any product announcements which has been “the one more thing” from Apple in the past events.
Apple also did not address the class action lawsuit filed by consumers for faulty keyboard on their MacBook Pro. But the company did confirm that future version of its mobile operating system will not throttle performance over battery life like it did with the release of iOS 11 last year. Apple CEO Tim Cook did confirm that there are over 200 million Apple developers and App Store will pay $100 billions to developers this year. While the event seemed short on big announcements, here are the key highlights from the even.
Apple gets into digital wellbeing game
At I/O 2018, Google announced Digital Wellbeing within its Android OS to help users track the amount of time spent using their multitude of devices, and limit screen time. At WWDC 2018, Apple announced its own spin in that effort.
The next version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 12, will unsurprisingly include a digital health dashboard to help curb tech addiction/overuse. Apple says iOS 12 users will be able to set Do Not Disturb mode when they are heading to bed, and will group notifications to ensure the notification tray does not look overwhelming when you see it in the morning. Apple will also let users set a time limit for how long they want to use apps daily.
Apple will also allow users to ignore and snooze the screen time limit they have enforced on themselves through the digital health app. This is in stark contrast to Android which greys out the application once you cross the threshold. Another improvement is the option to set allowances for kids on managed devices.
Apple iOS 12 gets faster and smarter
Apart from digital health, Apple is also bringing major improvements to the overall operating system. The Cupertino-based iPhone maker announced a new feature called Memoji, which seems to be inspired by Samsung’s AR Emoji. The feature will allow users to customize the faces to whatever they would like to look like, and the Memoji feature supports a “Tongue Detection” mode so you can make Animoji of your own.
Apple is also bringing improvements to Photos app which seems to drawing a lot of inspiration from Google Photos. The Photos app will now offer search suggestions for specific people, places or events. It also has a new “On This Day” reminder showing pictures taken on that day from years ago. With iOS 12, users can search for images with multiple search terms.
Apple also announced Group FaceTime with support to add up to 32 people. In Messages, Apple is adding new Animoji, stickers, text and a drawing tool is built right into the camera app.
Siri takes Shortcut
As expected, Apple just gave more power to Siri, its virtual digital assistant. Siri will now show suggestions with app actions that it considers will be useful based on your usage patterns. It also gets a new Shortcut app that lets you customize apps with quick action like order at the coffee shop. Users will also be able to combine multiple actions such as playing radio, setting thermostat to a desired temperature and texting to a friend or acquiantance with single phrase.
Apple watchOS 5 is all about fitness
Apple has found a surprise winner in the form of Apple Watch. The Watch has become the go to fitness tracker for most users and its fitness features are morphing the smartwatch aspect of it. At WWDC 2018, Apple announced that it is adding social element to fitness features with the new watchOS 5.
With watchOS 5, Apple Watch users will be able to challenge their friends to fitness competitions and get digital awards. Apple is bringing support for WebKit so users can browse some websites powered by the tech on their smartwatch. There will be interactive notifications and support for podcast.
One of the coolest announcement is the new Walkie-Talkie feature coming as an Apple Watch app. Once you allow a contact to send you a message, Apple Watch users will be able to drop in, and send you a voice memo.
The new macOS is called Mojave
The next version of macOS will be called Mojave, continuing on the strategy of naming after landscapes in California. The new operating system brings system-wide dark theme, which not only changes the system UI but also switches the wallpaper and content of windows. The update also brings redesigned Mac App Store and ability to organize your desktop in the form of stacks.
The new version of macOS also brings support for cross-platform framework allowing developers to easily port their iOS apps to Mac. Apple took the lead by bringing News, Stocks and Home to Mac from its iOS counterpart. Other changes include support for an all new file system and in-built privacy protection to prevent apps from accessing your information without consent.
Apple tvOS gets Dolby Atmos support
Apple is finally bringing the Dolby Atmos support to tvOS as it aims to turn Apple TV into the only mainstream entertainment device. With the launch of Apple TV 4K last year, the company brought the biggest library of 4K movies and now, it is enhancing them with Atmos support.
The next tvOS update also brings support for over 100 video channels in the TV app and support for live sports and live news. Apple is adding screensavers that show a view of Earth from the space station and the Apple TV remote is being added to Control Center.
Apple ARKit 2 makes AR fun
At WWDC 2017, Apple announced ARKit as the world’s largest augmented reality platform. Apple is now introducing ARKit 2 at WWDC 2018 as the only platform capable of sharing the experience between devices.
The ARKit 2 brings a new file system called USDZ for developers to integrate AR throughout iOS 12. With ARKit 2, developers will be able to enable shared experiences for an even more engaging experience and a spectator mode offering friends and family best view of your AR gameplay.
It also extends support for image detection and tracking and adds the ability to automatically apply reflections of the real world onto AR objects.