App and away: Apple unveils horde of OS updates
Apple CEO Tim Cook welcomed thousands of members of the app-development community at WWDC18 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center on Monday.
San Jose, California - Tech giant wants to help developer community with more tools, resources and inspiration.
At WWDC17, iPads, Macs and the monster that was the iMac Pro stole the show at the traditionally software-oriented event.
This time around, Apple made sure apps and its developers were front and centre.
The tech titan unveiled a slew of updates across all its platforms at the 2018 edition of the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) here at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, reinforcing its dedication to the app-developer community and the key role it plays in today's mobile-driven world.
"The customer is at the centre of everything," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in his opening keynote on Monday here.
"We all want to make a new and better experience to help them have a better day."
Cook pointed out that the Apple's App Store - which will soon celebrate its 10th-year anniversary - has 500 million visitors every week, and developers' earnings have topped $100 billion.
In March, Apple launched a new iPad that focused on education, and just recently, the Everyone Can Code programme for the blind and deaf, proof that it is branching out to more sectors and showing the importance of apps and what they can do for any demographic.
"Developers power a group of people; we want help people to learn more," Cook added. "Coding is an essential skill and should be offered by every school."
There was a lot to digest at WWDC18, so we'll run them down in the simplest way possible.
As expected, the newest version of Apple's operating system for its iPhones and iPads is called iOS 12, and they've "doubled down" on performance, said Craig Federighi, senior vice-president of software engineering.
In the preview, Apple touted that on iOS 12, apps can launch up to 40 per cent faster, the camera starts up to 70 per cent quicker and the keyboard appears up to 50 per cent faster, among other under-the-hood improvements plus more responsive typing.
One area Apple where is pushing forward harder is augmented reality (AR), and iOS 12 boasts of new tools that would create shared experiences: for example, multiple users can play a game using one's own device at a common virtual environment. A new file format, 'Universal Scene Description', or .usdz, which allows users to experience AR on iOS devices.
FaceTime also received a nice upgrade with Group FaceTime, allowing up to 30 people to chat at the same time. A conference can also be started from within the Message app.
On the fun part, more Animoji characters have been added, plus Tongue Detection, which speaks for itself. Apple, though, introduced an additional feature: Memoji, which allows users to create an Animoji based on their face, akin to Samsung's AR Emoji. Animojis can now also be used directly within Messages and FaceTime.
Siri, meanwhile, debuted its Shortcuts feature, which allows users to set keywords to trigger a series of commands from different apps that Siri will perform one after the other. CarPlay, meanwhile, will now support third-party navigation apps such as Google Maps and Waze.
And of the back of the perception that Apple's products are 'addictive', it Screen Time, which tracks usage of apps and can allow a time limit to be set. This feature is also extended to children's Activity Report, which helps parents regulate app use.
Do Not Disturb has new modes, including ending it automatically during a specified time and Do Not Disturb During Bedtime, which hides all notifications on the lock screen and will only show up when prompted. Privacy and security on Safari has been enhanced as iOS 12 blocks out social-media 'like' and 'share' buttons, as well as comment widgets to prevent tracking users without permission.
The company's only wearable, the Apple Watch, will be receiving watchOS 5. Cook says that the device enjoyed 60 per cent growth in 2017. And if you're looking for those two rumoured new Watches, well, sorry - there was no sign of it at WWDC18.
The new features include inviting another user to a 7-day activity challenge and automatic workout detection, which also gives retroactive credit for the activity done before it is detected. New workouts include yoga and hiking, plus additional running data such as cadence and designated target pace. Apple Podcasts can also be accessed on the Watch via Siri, which has also been designed to be more intelligent.
But perhaps the most interesting feature of watchOS 5 is Walkie Talkie, which works akin to its actual namesake between users with a tap of the device. This feature, however, won't be available in the UAE, along with Pakistan and China.
Apple is sticking to famous places in California, as the new macOS is named Mojave, the famous desert in the US state.
Among its new features include Dark Mode, which changes the desktop to a darkened theme and makes content pop out even more. A Dynamic Desktop, meanwhile, changes the desktop picture to match the time of the day.
The desktop also comes with the new Stacks function, which groups cluttered desktop files according to file type. Finder, meanwhile, now has a new Gallery view, which allows users to browse through files visually, with an all-new Preview Pane that shows the file's entire metadata.
Among the most useful iOS apps are also debuting on Mojave, including News, Stocks, Voice Memos and Home. Group FaceTime is also available on it.
The Mac App Store was also redesigned, following the steps of what was done with the App Store on iOS. New tabs for Create, Work, Play and Develop have also been added, which helps users find the right apps. Big-name developers will also boost the store, with Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Lightroom CC, among others, joining the fold later this year.
Screenshots, meanwhile, have new controls and will now allow video capturing. The Continuity Camera, meanwhile, provides a seamless connection between the iPhone and a Mac: a photo taken or document scanned with the former will automatically appear on the latter.
Apple TV, with the new tvOS 12, will now feature the Dolby Atmos sound system. With that, Apple TV is now the only streaming device to be both Dolby Vision- and Atmos-certified.
Aerial screensavers, meanwhile, will now feature new shots 'out-of-this-world' shots in collaboration with the International Space Station and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space.
All these updates will be available to the public during the fall, which means one thing: it's going to add some juice by the time the new iPhone - or iPhones - arrives.
Apple unveiled a slew of updates across all its platforms at WWDC18.
iOS 12 'doubles down' on performance; Apple promises that apps will be up to 40 per cent faster.
macOS Mojave has a Dark Mode, which changes the desktop to a darkened theme and makes content pop out even more.
watchOS 5 features Walkie Talkie, which allows users to communicate with each other akin to an intercom phone.
iOS 12 brings new Animojis, plus 'Tongue Detection'.
Memoji will help you create Animojis of your face, similar to Samsung's AR Emoji.