WWDC: Everything Apple shared at its big developer event

Here's a rundown of Apple's key platform announcements as they were introduced.

Apple, WWDC, WWDC 2020, iPad, iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch
Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook stressed Apple's commitment to equality and diversity and the fight against COVID-19 before launching into a slew of news for developers across all Apple's platforms at this year's online Worldwife Developers Conference.

OS releases are available as developer betas as of today, with public betas set to launch next month and launch in finished form this Fall.

Here's a partial run-down (updated).

iOS 14 announcements

App Library: Automatically organizes all your apps into logical collections, and users can search for specific apps. It's recently added and editable, so you can get rid of  collections you have no use for.

Widgets: Now “more beautiful and data rich" and you can configure them to your needs. You can also place critical widgets on your Home screen. There is also a Widget Gallery, which offers up all your available options in a highly visual environment. Smart Stack is also a feature, you can place this at the top of the screen and it will use AI to present you with the data you most need at that time of day.

Picture in Picture Video: Now you can keep watching video while working in other apps. Even better, Apple used the wondrous Mythic Quest to illustrate this.

Siri: Now has a new compact design, and presents results in a smarter way: Apps open fast, information is delivered in notifications view, and more. Siri handles 25 billion requests each month and now has 25 times more facts than just a couple of years ago.

Translate: Siri can now help with translation. A new app called Translate can work offline and uses on device ML to translate between 11 languages. (There's also a  conversation mode).

Messages: Messages now has pinned conversations and inline replies so you can focus messages within conversations. Also has support for mentions so only the person you want to speak to gets notified. You can also create group photos and more. And there's a load more options for your Animoji.

Maps: Best way to explore the world all with privacy. Maps now offers more accurate information, 3D views and more. New Maps for UK, Ireland and Canada later this year.

Guides: Maps will host built in guides from credible sources. The company has also built new Cycling directions into Maps, and will let you know if you have stairs or steep elevations to deal with. This is coming to major U.S. and Chinese cities first. Apple is also putting EV routing into the system so you can automatically be directed to charging stops on your route.

CarPlay: It's now available across 97% of the U.S. and 80% of new cars sold worldwide. This year, Apple is adding new wallpaper options. You’ll eventually be able to use your iPhone to open and start your car, starting with the new BMW model. Digital keys live in your iPhone’s Secure Element, so you can share them in a Message. You can also set restricted driving mode (“perfect for teen drivers”). This will be available in both iOS 13 and iOS 14.

Apple has been working on standards with industry groups, and is working to use the U1 chip inside iPhones – the company expects to see more support for this standard in new cars starting next year.

App Clips: “What if you could have the right app you needed at just the right moment.” App Clip is a new tool that lets you use some of the functionality of an app even if you don’t have the relevant app installed. You might use it in a coffee shop, to rent a scooter, for example.

Apple honcho Craig Federeghi explains that “Everything about App Clips is designed for speed.” The feature uses Sign in with Apple and Apple Pay to pay for items and log into apps. Launch from Safari, Messages, Maps, NFC tags, QR codes. Apple has also designed an App Kit code which lets you invoke an App Clip. Developers create App Clips using Xcode and they must be under 10MB in size.

What’s new in iPad OS?

A new Sidebar lets you move more easily between parts of the app in Photos. It makes it much easier to organize images into albums, for example. Just tap to change views. This will be seen in other apps, such as Calendar and Files. Music has also been updated to exploit iPad’s larger screen.

Search gets a new compact design and lets you search from within apps. Apple has also rebuilt search to be Universal: As an app launcher, for contacts, document finding,

Scribble is coming to iPad, so you will be able to use an Apple Pencil to handwrite in any application and it will be automatically converted into text – that includes searching in Safari or using the new Universal Search feature.

You can also grab a selection of handwritten words, convert them into text, and then place them into another app. There’s lots more, but Apple didn’t talk about everything.

AirPods

Mary – Ann Ionescu: AirPods will now seamlessly switch between devices and will automatically switch if you are yourself migrating between your devices.

A new feature called Spatial Audio gives you the sensation of sitting in a room of sound on AirPods Pro. These use advanced audio algorithms that create an immersive sound experience. The company has packed a series of technologies to create a surround sound experience that keeps you in the center of the action, the company claims.

What about the Apple Watch?

Developers can now use infinite complications, which means you can have one app use all the Complications on your Watch. The company has also introduced some new watch faces which also feature a better tool for configuring the Complications you want.

Face Sharing: Curated watch faces from friends and family, curated selections on the app store or found online. If a watch face uses apps you don’t have yet you can download them when setting up the face. You can also share these, including via social media.

Maps: On WatchOS you’ll now get cycling directions. You’ll be able to see all of these on your watch as you ride.

Workout: The app continues to add new workouts: watchOS 7 this year adds Dance, the app will track your movement. This is quite advanced: it can figure out your lower and upper body movement. Functional Strength Training and Cooldowns are also new additions. The Activity face also provides a whole host of new information – and a new name: Activity is now called Fitness.

Sleep tracking: Apple is focusing on both sleep quality and sleep duration. It now has a new Wind Down feature that aims to minimize distractions, which extends to turning on Do Not Disturb and automatically playing your favorite meditation or music apps. While you’re asleep your watch face is dark. You can also choose both a taptic and/or noise-based alarm.

Sleep tracking will watch your time in bed, sleep time. This feature is also available without the Watch inside iOS 14.

Hand washing: Apple Watch will automatically detect when you begin washing your hands. It uses ML to figure out when you are washing, audio to detect water running, and will time how long you wash. It will let you know when you should finish.

What about macOS?

A new design ethic: Apple designer Alan Dye explains some of the new design ethics behind the latest version of the macOS, which is called “Big Sur."

A unified space for widgets, new icons, more movement, and more consistency across Apple’s ecosystems. “This macOS is familiar, but also entirely new, in every detail.”

That means new Mac icons, and a new Finder with a compact space-efficient toolbar – Apple has redesigned all the apps across its system. Even the Menu bar is now translucent and automatically takes the color of your Desktop picture.

Mail: All new glyphs in the sidebar. Toolbar controls all seem logically aligned.

Photos: Backed by Metal, so animations are smooth and navigation much improved.

Control Center: For the Mac. You’ll be able to handle WI-Fi, volume, brightness, currently playing media and more. You can edit this, also.

Notifications and widgets have also been redesigned – they seem a lot more interactive. There is also a gallery of widgets (which third party developers can also build).

Messages: Works with all your devices. This year it gains: New search features, a redesigned photo picker, emoji editing, Messages Effects and pinned conversations. The new Groups enhancements you’ll have read about in iOS 14 also feature here.

Maps: Maps for the Mac has been redesigned, including features like Favorites, Home and so on. You can also create your own Guides, access indoor Maps and explore where you’re going using Look Around. You also get all the Maps features coming with iOS 14.

What about Mac Catalyst?

Note that Apple now calls this “Mac Catalyst” and used this for its redesigned Maps and Messages apps on Macs. I get the sense there’s more to come on this.

What about Safari?

Safari will be 50% faster than Chrome and will also offer a whole host of new enhancements. It will also be way more private and use way less energy.

Privacy: A new privacy toolbar will provide information on privacy for specific websites and will also monitor your passwords to ensure they have not been hacked. This will also show you which known trackers are watching you on a specific page.

Extensions: You can now choose what you let sites do, and for how long, all day? A week? Forever? Extensions such as Recipe Filter lets you scan for recipe ingredients fast.

Translation: Built in translation tools are now inside Safari. When you visit a page in a foreign language a new translate tool appears in the search bar, tap this to automatically translate the page.

Customization: You can even set up your own photo as your Safari background on the Start page. You can also add your own sets of items you want to see on the Start page – these could be specific websites, for example.

Tabs: Easier and more efficient than ever to work with lots of tabs. You can explore all the tabs in one highly visual page.

The Mac is transitioning to Apple silicon

The really big changes: Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage to talk a little about the importance of the Mac and its three major transitions, including Intel and PowerPC.

Apple already has a world class silicon team. Johny Srouji, SVP Hardware Technologies leads the team, and took a moment to explain what the company has been doing on silicon design.

Apple has already delivered 10 generations of chips, and improved iPhone performance by a factor of 100. The iPad also delivers more power – the latest model delivers 1,000 times the graphics performance of the first-generation product. “This foreshadows how well our architecture will scale to the Mac,” Srouji said. Not only this, but Apple has actually shipped over 2 billion of its own chips.

The deal is about performance: Not just in terms of processor cycles, but also in terms of power consumption, which is what the company thinks it can do with its own chips inside Macs.

The company thinks it can deliver better graphics, better security and turn the Mac into an amazing platform for Machine Learning. Apple is designing chips for the Mac, developed to deliver incredible features and performance across a common architecture.

So, how will macOS work on these new chips?

All the apps on Big Sur, as well as Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro are already running on Apple’s own processors. And everything developers need to put their apps across to the new chips are available in Xcode.

The company has also built a new Universal engine that lets developers build apps that work on any device running an Apple chip.

  • Microsoft is already working to deliver this to Office – which already works well on the new platform.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud already runs native on Apple Silicon, as does Photoshop. (The company ran a 5GB Photoshop file as a demonstration of this).
  • And, of course, Final Cut Pro also runs merrily on the new processors, Apple claimed – and can happily run three concurrent streams of ProRes. Which is significant, you know…

Apple Development Platform

This was the system Apple used to demo all the apps and operating system improvements the company has shown during this keynote.

Apple also has a virtualization tool...

Apple is also working to make the transition seamless for users. That means making it easier to run apps that don’t run on the new chips yet. Big Sur will include Rosetta 2, which will translate Mac apps on installation in order that they run on Apple’s silicon.

One more thing: Apple has also built a virtualization tool, so you can run other operating systems (including Linux) on these new Macs.

And, of course, you'll be able to run all your iPad and iPhone apps on your Mac. 

The result? More access to more apps than ever before, with Apple stating that most apps can be recompiled in just a few days.

The QuickStart program

Apple is introducing a program to help developers get started. This includes new Developer Transition Kit hardware, which is a Mac mini running an A12Z chip. This will be made available to developers.

What about Intel Macs?

Apple will continue to sell Intel-based Macs as it makes this transition across the next two years. Intel Macs will be supported by macOS "for years," Apple promised. 

Apple on privacy

Federighi talks about how Apple limits the amount of data it gathers about you while you use your device, the idea is that the systems don’t collect such information in the first place.

Sign In With Apple: The company confirms over 200 million accounts have been created since it began to be deployed. Kayak has found it used twice as often as anything else. This year, Apple will make it possible for people to retrospectively apply Sign on With Apple on existing accounts.

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