Apple’s WWDC Showcases the Company Opening of the Walled Garden
Apple’s annual WWDC is a chance to showcase developers and their creations. This year, we got a taste of their real-life stories alongside the usual mix of Apple’s keynote points. Craid Federighi announced that Apple now has over 20 million developers worldwide now. The app store will turn 10 next month and it has enabled many new companies to thrive and changed lives. Next week, app developers will have made five billion dollars overall. They want to make people coders, and Swift is the fastest-growing programming language on the market. iOS 11 will support devices as far back as 2013 – with the iPhone 5 being cited on the mobile side of things. Customer satisfaction for iOS 11 is at 95% currently. iOS 12 will be optimized for better performance on existing devices. The iPhones 6 Plus will see apps launch up to 40% faster, the keyboard will come up 50% faster, and the camera will operate 70% faster.
Apps will also launch twice as quickly – even under a heavy load. AR will get a new file format that Apple created alongside Pixar. USDZ will be used across all of the apps, and you can put 3D objects made with the format to be placed in the real-world. Abhay Parasnis announced that Adobe Creative Cloud will now support USDZ. This means that apps like Photoshop can now be used for AR creation as well. You will also be able to bring items made with Creative Cloud into AR instantly and a sneak peak of the design tools will be shown later. Apple will debut Measure – which will measure objects, lines, and make it easy to learn dimensional information.
With a line drag and drop approach, it makes it easy to find out how tall or wide something is. It also has a smart rectangle functionality to find a rectangle easily – so for a photo, it will tell you its exact dimensions. USDZ being integrated into the full iOS I2 design means that you can go to a site that has a USDZ file on it and actually view the animation on its own and experience it in full. Siri Suggestions will also get better with Shortcuts – making order placement possible on the lock screen. You can also use it to do things like send auto-texts if you’re running late, or make a call for you on someone’s birthday. You will be able to make your own Shortcuts with a drag and drop
Apple News will be updated with a browse functionality and a new sidebar will be added – optimized for larger displays like the iPad. The Stocks app will also show sparklines for daily performance, and Apple News will be brought to the Stocks app – curated by the Apple News team. Having everything baked in to the update allows you to access the news without having to leave the app – optimizing everything for the display you’re on. Voice memos will make their debut on the iPad, and they’ll stay in sync across all of your devices. iBooks will also be renamed into Apple Books – and Reading Now will allow you to pick up right where you left off. Apple Carplay will also be updated with iOS 12 and support third-party navigation apps.
The new weekly activity summary will show you how much time you spend on the device – giving you a chance to do some introspection. You can also set app limits – so if you want to spend less time on an app per day, then you will have to be more productive because if you have set a one hour limit and you’re five minutes away from that – you will naturally be more productive. You can choose to keep browsing if you want to – so it isn’t a hard and fast limit, but it does allow you to do more thinking into how you’re spending your time.
Kids will also get an activity report and parents will get one on their device too. Parents can create app allowances – so you can set a downtime as an event and prevent night time usage. You can always allow them to access the phone and messaging functions across all devices. This allows kids to always be in touch with parents, or keep up to date with school-related activities. Animojis will also get tongue detection – meaning they can all stick their tongues out when you do. Memojis allow you to create this version of yourself step by step and while you’re creating it, you’ll see the Memoji move its face alongside yours. Fun effects can also be added to a photo in real-time – all by clicking on a star and you can give yourself a comic book filter, or add stickers from a sticker pack with a photo that blends not only the real you, but your memoji too.
Facetime will get a new group update with support for up to 32 people. You can bring a group chat into the Facetime conversation as well – ensuring that everyone is on the same page and no one is left out in the cold with certain pieces of information. Everyone will be visible in a fairly large tile – and tiles will get larger when people speak to show that they are now taking the emphasis in the conversation. It may seem a bit odd, but it does mentally allow you to keep track of just who said what instead of everyone becoming a blur in the background. For a more casual vibe, you can add animojis, fun effects, and stickers.
Apple TV 4K is getting some improvements as well. Apple’s ongoing support for 4K content includes being able to get free updates from existing purchases to the 4K versions.You can get Dolby Atmos support by simply getting an Apple TV 4K and a Dolby Atmos soundbar, and Atmos content will be added to iTunes. All purchases made with Atmos content will get a free update – enabling a better experience at no extra charge. Charter Spectrum will be coming to Apple TV later in 2018 – allowing 50 million users to use Apple TV to access their content instead of a traditional cable box. Zero sign-on makes Single Sign-On even easier. As long as you’re on your content provider’s internet network, you will have all network-related apps unlocked – although it will be limited at first to Charter members. Aerieals will also be improved with real-time location viewing – so you can learn where the locations are and thanks to a NASA partnership, you can see the Earth itself in new ways.
MacOS will also be getting a major update – Mojave. Dark mode will be added to the OS and allows a sharper contrast compared to what’s on the screen.Photos pop off the screen, and code also pops with sharper color contrasts for different colors being used in the code itself. Dynamic desktop changes the shading on your desktop colors throughout the day. Desktop stacks allow you to take a once-cluttered mess of a desktop into a better-looking stack on the right-hand side. Finder will also allow you to do things like finding content you want – or even see the metadata of photos to see what camera gear was used to take a photo or learn a bit of photography by seeing the lens used and its f-stop. Markup has also been added to Quick Look – and it wll allow you to quckly add a signature to things like forms with simple drag and drop functionality. Quick Look will even allow you to trim videos in real-time.
Screenshots will also allow you to take a screenshot of something and bring up an instant thumbnail on the desktop – and you can then view the image and zoom in on a certain part of the image. Screenshotting tools have also been expanded to allow you to do real-time video capture and integrate that video into something like a document. Continuity Camera allows you to take a photo with your photo and integrate yourself into an image.You can do the same thing with scanning documents or images – and put them into a presentation in real-time. Apple News will be coming to Mojave – along with the sidebar. The same Stocks app for iPads will be coming to MacOS too – and so will voice memos. Home is coming to the Mac and will allow you to monitor cameras or even set things up with Siri.
A common theme throughout the keynote was Apple opening the doors to third-party apps gaining prominence and being a more integral part of their ecosystem. Since the debut of the modern era of iOS, the walled garden approach has been a key to Apple’s success – and also a frequent cause of criticism. Apple’s curation has naturally limited some of the apps available to consumers – but they are loosening up on that stance while still promising to offer world-class security. In this sense, it shows that they are willing to learn from what users tell them while still offering up all of the software that people expect. Having third-party apps usable on something like an Apple Watch is fantastic since so many get used to an app and want to have as much uniformity as possible across all devices.
By opening this door, it makes Apple’s devices more appealing to those who aren’t already in the Apple ecosystem as well. Some of what they announced with iTunes – like the free Dolby Atmos updates alongside free 4K updates makes it easy to decide to buy something on iTunes instead of something like the Amazon appstore or Googly Play Store. It’s nice to know that a single purchase price gets you future-proof content in an age where the future is being decided so quickly and an all-digital future for our media consumption seems inevitable. Apple seems to be leading the way when it comes to providing the most overall value to consumers. Buying content on iTunes for your phone and then being able to get it on a tablet and then with 4K HDR support for the same price is a great deal. Hopefully, Apple keeps this trend alive – because it’s a great way to win over even more people.