Many people had big predictions for this year’s Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), especially after 2018 with its (considered to be) minor updates.
We had a teaser of things to come in 2018 — Apple demonstrated some new apps built with what we referred to as the “Marzipan” framework — apps built for iOS and macOS from one codebase.
This year we had a long keynote presentation, and Apple showed us a lot of updates, new hardware and some big surprises for developers:
If you’ve got around $15,000 burning a hole in your pocket, then you’ll be pleased to hear that Apple announced the new Mac Pro, with its modular design and incredible expandability, allowing up to 28 cores and an incredible 1.5TB of memory.
Added to that, they announced a new 6k Pro display with XDR (an improvement on HDR).
Of course, that $15,000 probably won’t even get you the best loadout, with the screen and stand coming in at $5,998, you might not have much left to get a top spec Mac Pro!
The Apple TV got a few updates: a new UI and support for multiple users and accounts, plus music playback now shows lyrics in real-time.
In watchOS 6, Apple has cut the reliance on the iPhone, allowing developers to build and deploy completely independent apps via a new App Store directly on the Watch. They also showed some new watch faces and features, a calculator app, a tip-splitting feature and updates to health and fitness tracking.
Developers have been adding a dark mode to their apps for some time, and plenty of iOS apps allow you to switch from “day” to “night” modes, but now it’s system-wide with dark mode for iOS 13!
Alongside dark mode, Apple showed us a new keyboard input mechanism by swiping across letters, new selection modes, a new undo feature (no more shaking your devices) and updates to most of the flagship apps.
Maps got a huge update (in the US initially) with incredibly detailed mapping and 3D modelling along with an incredible “street view” style mode showing HD photography of streets and buildings.
The Photos app got a revamp to hide screenshots and other images that its new AI considers to be not as relevant to you, hopefully making it easier to find the photos you love. With 45,000+ in my iCloud, I need this.
Siri got an update to sound more natural and allow conversational instructions, dictation has improved (and there’s an excellent accessibility mode to control your devices with just your voice), and AirPods can now be shared between you and your friends to enjoy music or videos together.
HomePod got some significant updates — recognising different voices and a new handoff feature where you can bring your device that’s playing music or a podcast close, and the HomePod continues for you. You can also do the same if you’re leaving the house.
More a marketing move than anything else (because it’s still iOS underneath), the iPad gets its own named OS and some significant improvements to multi-tasking, text selection and manipulation, a mini-keyboard for one-handed use, and the Files app is updated on iOS and iPadOS to support external drives, USB sticks and direct transfer from cameras.
Safari now allows desktop browsing by default and has a new download manager and apps can now support multiple windows that can be placed side-by-side in split view mode.
A new OS for the Mac: a new name — Catalina. Apple is finally dumping iTunes in favour of dedicated apps for Music, Podcasts and TV. And, connecting an iOS device now lets you access and sync it using Finder.
Another new feature is “Sidecar” — the ability to use an iPad as a second monitor, a feature implemented previously by 3rd parties, but now be baked into the OS. It works wired and wireless, so we should see a significant performance improvement over previous solutions. You can also use an iPad with Apple Pencil as a graphics tablet for desktop apps and Pencil response time has been improved by over 100%, reducing it to 9ms — impressive.
A new “Find My” app replaces Find Friends and Find My iPhone on all devices, and even includes a new feature which uses the Bluetooth radios in Apple devices to act as a mesh beacon network. When your device is offline, it’ll still ping its location regularly to nearby Apple devices which can securely relay its location back to you. With new security features in macOS for Macs with the T2 chip, your Mac can now be locked down to prevent thieves reusing it.
Firstly, “Catalyst” (what we’ve previously known as “Marzipan”) is a framework that allows iOS developers to build apps for macOS from an existing iOS codebase by selecting “macOS” as a build option. Some developers are already lining up releases for the new macOS including Twitter who retired their macOS app previously. With Catalyst, Twitter can build for macOS and support iOS and macOS from a single codebase.
SwiftUI is another framework announced and demonstrated that allows developers to write Swift apps faster with less code. There’s even a “LiveView” style feature allowing a real-time preview of your app as you code!
There were lots more, including a new “Sign in with Apple” feature that adds a convenient, privacy-focused way to use social sign-in with apps. If your existing apps use “Sign in with Google/Twitter/Facebook”, then this is a mandatory addition for a future app update.
I’ve only covered some of the new announcements here — check out the live stream recording to see the whole presentation.