Apple’s WWDC 2019 held yesterday at the San Jose Convention Center finally delivered on the promise the company made to its pro users long back. While Apple is known for delivering a crisp keynote, the WWDC was far from perfect. Apple executives kept looking at screens and often seemed to forget their lines and hoping that the audience would fill in with claps or laughter. While it may have lacked perfection, Apple certainly made for it with a number of big announcements that will change the life of those who live in the Apple ecosystem. Here is a look at the top announcements from WWDC 2019:
Apple Mac Pro and Pro XDR Display
Apple finally unveiled the new Mac Pro, one that has not seen an update in nearly six years. With the new Mac Pro, Apple is ditching the trashcan design, which had ran into a thermal hell, and adopting cheese grater chassis seen on previous versions of Mac Pro. In simple terms, the new Mac Pro features a tower style design seen with most computers but Apple is using a stainless chassis and not offering any of the fancy designs people expect to see at Computex, the annual computer and components show held in Taiwan. The new Mac Pro is truly a powerhouse with 28-core Intel Xeon processor, up to 1.5TB of system memory, eight PCIe expansion slots and ability to pack up to four AMD Radeon Pro Vega II graphics.
While the trash can design of previous Mac Pro made it impossible to upgrade, the new Mac Pro is designed with upgrades in mind. While it has eight PCIe expansion slot, Apple is also announcing MPX module featuring integrated Thunderbolt and over 500W of power. Mac Pro can accommodate two MPX modules allowing customers to use two Vega II Duos for an equivalent of 56 teraflops of graphics performance and 128GB of video memory. If that seemed staggering then there is Afterburner, a programmable ASIC capable of decoding up to 6.3 billion pixels per second. With Afterburner, video editors will be able to decode up to three streams of 8K ProRes RAW video and 12 streams of 4K ProRes RAW video in real time. There is no word on support for NVIDIA GPU, which is a major letdown.
Back in 2017, Apple acknowledged that the trash can design made Mac Pro impossible to upgrade. With the new Mac Pro, it is eliminating similar fate with modular enclosure offering 360-degree access. There is a lattice pattern to maximize airflow and there are three fans and a blower to keep the machine quiet even under heavy workloads. Alongside the Mac Pro, Apple also unveiled Retina 6K Pro Display XDR with a 32-inch LCD panel having a resolution of 6016 x 3384 pixels. The new Mac Pro will start at $5,999 (around Rs 4,14,443) while the Pro XDR Display is priced at $4,999 (around Rs 3,45,358. Since we are talking about Apple here, there is also a Pro stand with tilt, height and rotation adjustment sold separately for $999 (around Rs 69,016).
Apple iOS 13
Apple’s bread and butter remains iPhone and with iPhone owners holding on to their devices longer than before, the company is introducing iOS 13 with a focus on performance. Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President, Software Engineering at Apple announced that iOS 13 was designed with the intent to make apps faster and more responsive. Apple claims that Face ID is 30 percent faster while app download sizes have been reduced to increase launch time. While there is a lot of improvements being done under the hood, the real difference comes in the form of Dark Mode.
With iOS 13, iPhone users will be able to enable a system-wide dark color scheme and third-party developers will be able to integrate the feature into their own apps. Apple also lets users schedule dark mode to turn on automatically at sunset or at a certain time. The Dark Mode will likely work the best with OLED iPhone models – iPhone X, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Apple is also giving more controls to users in portrait mode with iOS 13 and editing tools support options to rotate, crop or apply filters on videos. There is also a revamped version of Photos app and Maps for a more dynamic experience.
Apple also announced a new feature called “Sign in with Apple” as an alternative to signing up with social accounts. Other new features include Messages can automatically share a user’s name and photo while Siri has a new voice. With iOS 13, HomePod can distinguish voices from anyone and Siri can read incoming messages as soon as they arrive if you use an AirPods. Apple is also taking a page from SwiftKey and adding QuickPath swiping functionality to the keyboard. The iOS 13 is available to Apple Developer Program members now and public beta is expected to be available later this year. It will become available as a free software update for iPhone 6s and later.
If you observed we did not mention iPad above because Apple’s tablet now has its own operating system – iPadOS. When the iPhone launched in 2007, the OS was called iPhone OS and became iOS with the launch of the iPad. Now, iOS can be classified as iPhone OS and iPadOS depending on which device it is running. If you ever hoped for Apple to put macOS on iPad then iPadOS is the closest you will ever get. The new iPadOS bring an improved homescreen experience with a new layout that shows more applications than before. There is also Today View, which can be added to the Home Screen and allows quick access to widgets at a glance.
Since Apple views iPad as a computer than tablet, iPadOS brings enhanced split view and slide over functionality. With iPadOS, iPad users will be able to work with multiple files and documents from the same app simultaneously. iPad users can also quickly view and switch between multiple apps in slide over. There is also an App Expose providing a quick view of just the open windows for any one app with a simple tap. The new operating system for iPad also bring desktop-class browsing experience with Safari and it of course supports Dark Mode introduced with iOS 13.
The iPadOS is basically iOS on steroids, redesigned and re-engineered with power users in mind. The OS also brings more integrated Apple Pencil experience where customers will now be able to mark up and send entire webpages, documents or emails on iPad. There is also a new Files app with iCloud Drive support and support for external drives allowing users to plug-in USB drives or SD cards. Apple wants more people to buy an iPad instead of a Mac and with iPadOS, the company has an operating system in place that could convince a lot of users to use the iPad as their primary computer. The iPadOS is available to developers now with public beta arriving later this month. It will support iPad Air 2 and later, all iPad Pro models, 5th generation iPad and iPad mini 4 or newer.
Apple macOS Catalina
At WWDC 2019, Apple also previewed macOS Catalina that replaces iTunes with standalone apps like Apple Music, Podcasts and the Apple TV app. It also adds a Sidecar feature that enables users to extend their Mac desktop to use an iPad as a second display. It also includes new accessibility features like voice control allowing users to control their Mac entirely with their voice using on-device Siri speech recognition technology. There is also enhanced focus on security with Gatekeeper checking all apps for known security issues while T2 Security Chip supports Activation Lock.
With macOS Catalina, Apple is bringing Screen Time feature to Mac and users can sync Screen Time settings and combine their usage across iPhone, iPad and Mac. There is also an updated version of Photos, Safari, Mail, Notes and Reminders app. The developer preview of macOS Catalina is available to Apple Developer Program members starting today and a public beta will be available later this month. All the Macs introduced in mid-2012 or later will support macOS Catalina.
Apple watchOS 6 and new tvOS
Apple also introduced new versions of watchOS and tvOS at its Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday. With watchOS 6, Apple Watch is becoming even more independent and now has a native App Store. Apple Watch users will no longer need a companion app on iPhone to install applications. There is also new health and fitness feature allowing women to track their cycle and see predicted timing for their next period. Apple Watch also gets a new Noise app that understands the sound levels in environments such as concerts and sporting events.
Apple is also adding new Trends tab in the Activity app on iPhone to take a look at long-term view of their activity behavior. There is also a new app called Dose that reminds users to take their pills on time. Apple is also adding a number of new watch faces and it includes Modular Compact, Solar Dial, California, Gradient and Numerals faces. Developers will be able to use an audio API to stream music, radio and podcasts and Voice Memos and Calculator from iPhone comes to Apple Watch with watchOS 6. Apple also announced a redesign of tvOS called tvOS 13 which now supports multiple users and offers a redesigned home screen with suggestions personalized for different users.