At San Jose, California, Apple has announced a massive slate of updates to its ecosystem of products in terms of software, functionality and back-end development.
Health and Fitness
Constantly worn, and as one of the world’s most popular wearables, the Apple Watch has been updated with useful features to improve health and fitness in a holistic way.
Health and fitness activity trends will now be added, showing the performance from the last 90 days versus the average for the past 365 days. Changes in performance will be indicated with an arrow, with helpful tips provided for improvement to health and wellbeing.
Hearing health is addressed in the latest feature. With the new complication, the Apple Watch will now monitor loud environments and will prompt users when the environmental volume is excessive.
Apple has also introduced menstrual cycle tracking, allowing users to visualise their status in their menstrual cycle, access and log data on the Apple Watch, while receiving notifications for fertile window periods. Cycle tracking is also available on the iPhone for those without a watch.
Health data can be highly sensitive, and Apple emphasises privacy with on-device smarts to keep information private.
Dark Mode finally comes to iOS, and it is evident why it took so long to be implemented – Apple’s implementation is completely thorough. It presents a dark interface on wallpapers, notifications and widget elements, on native and on updated third-party apps (which are highly likely to update given improvements to Swift which we cover below).
This means that Messages, Maps, Calendar, Notes, all appear dark as it should.
Quick Path Keyboard
The keyboard is also updated with Dark Mode, but users can also swipe to compose words – much like the function available on SwiftKey.
There’s a new Share Sheet, and new Sharing suggestions: Apple intelligently suggests sharing options based on the content like faces detected in images.
A new Music app (also with Dark Mode) makes available timed, synced lyrics for the first time – enabling a mobile karaoke session wherever you are.
Siri Shortcuts enables you to use apps through Siri; now, Suggested Automations takes your habits and suggests a multitasking workflow.
Siri sounds better than ever with Neural Text-to-speech (TTS), which allows for better cadence and emphasis. It’s now so good, the side-to-side demo with iOS 12 and iOS 13 erupted in spontaneous applause.
Spam Calls are now automatically diverted to voicemail.
By repackaging apps, app downloads have been reduced by around 50%, and updates are 60% smaller. App launches have been increased by a whopping 2 times. FaceID is faster, too.
Users can change font sizes in Safari for better legibility.
Mail gets rich fonts and desktop-level formatting, allowing your mobile phone to be a better substitute when out of the office.
On the new Notes for iOS, gallery view and shared folders enable better navigation and collaboration.
Reminders has been rewritten from the ground up. Type what you want and it will automatically remind you in terms of timing and location. You can also tag people or objects and it will remind you – for example, messaging a friend you have tagged will result in a notification reminding you to ask a question you would have otherwise forgotten.
Maps has been completely redesigned, with millions of miles of roads scanned through LIDAR implemented on cars and planes. The US will be covered entirely by the end of 2019, with select countries by next year.
Maps also features the new Favourites and Collections interfaces, enabling easier organisation of places. A new lookaround button enables a high definition 3D view to explore places around in closer detail.
Privacy and Security
Maps, Mail, Health all contain inherently private information, and Apple has gone to great lengths to better safeguard your data.
Sharing your location with apps can be useful, but should be limited. Users now have the ability to share location information just once – apps have to ask again if they require it. Apple also now provides reports of what apps are doing in the background. Apple has also blocked apps from scanning Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals around to infer users’ location.
Login with Facebook and Google is prevalent, but personal information can be used to track users in the background. Sign in with Apple eliminates that issue, and users are logged in with FaceID without revealing any personal information at all. Users can opt to hide their e-mail through Apple, which uses a randomly-generated e-mail address for the company to relay the message to the user – a unique for each app so users can shut notifications from specific apps.
HomeKit also focuses on privacy of private domains. Regular security cameras stream video to the cloud for intelligent processing, but HomeKit secure video is analysed on Apple devices at home, before being sent to the cloud to where no one, not even Apple can see it.
HomeKit-enabled routers ensure that each of the accessories are firewalled, preventing other devices Linksys, Eero, Spectrum will be the first to provide such routers.
Users can now share their name and display picture (which can be a memeoji) to those whom they message. Speaking of Memoji, Apple now offers a wider range of options. Eyeshadow, lipstick, hats, glasses, AND AIRPODS.
Memoji can now be automatically turned into a sticker pack, on other apps including WeChat and other devices. This will be available on devices running iOS 6 and later, since it does not require the TrueDepth camera utilised for motion capture.
Camera & Photos
Portrait lighting has been improved with the addition of the High Key Mono effect. Users can also now control the intensity of lighting effects.
A new editing interface provides simpler controls for vibrancy, white balance. These are all extended to video – Apple’s stong suit. Videos can be rotated, and effects can be implemented on videos.
Photos now also features improved navigation, with duplicates removed intelligently. Navigation is more intuitive, with pinch-to-zoom to expand and navigate galleries. Artificial intelligence also curates layouts to look great.
A new tab allows users to sort photos by Years, Months, Days or by All Photos. When organised by Year, photos automatically bring up past years’ photos contextually. In the demo, Apple showcased a seamless scrolling through past years’ WWDC and birthdays – regular occurring events that the AI automatically detects and narrows in on for more intuitive photo management and re-discovery.
New features have also come to the AirPods – Apple’s top-selling accessory. Siri can now read incoming messages, and users can respond immediately – on any third-party messaging app that uses SiriKit.
Audio Sharing is now enabled, allowing users to immediately share audio with friends by tapping immediately. Handoff is enabled on HomePod, by tapping your iPhone on the HomePod. HomePod can also identify family members and respond accordingly – with notes, messages and reminders, and music preferences tailored.
100,000 radio stations from all around the world have also come to iOS.
An improved CarPlay Dashboard better presents information, with Siri now working with third-party apps like Pandora and Waze.
Apple’s iPad has come a long way, culminating in the crazy-fast iPads Pro powered by the indomitable A12 Bionic chip. The hardware has always been class-leading, but it has long been time for the software to catch up. WWDC 2019 will go down in history as that very time.
User Interface (UI)
To better utilise the unique form-factor of the iPad, Apple has redesigned the way users interact with their iPads, starting from the home screen. With a tighter app grid layout, users can access pre-set widgets by swiping from the left.
Split View has been a long-running feature for some time now, but Apple has added a new Card view that floats an app above another for easy multitasking. Users can use gestures to add, toggle and change the Card app like on an iOS device.
Multiple instances of the same app can now be run simultaneously, paired with the same or with different applications. This works for Mail, Notes and Safari. Users can also bring up all the instances of a specific application running on the iPad. This means class-leading multi-tasking performance that matches class-leading hardware.
Long a gripe with iPad power-users, file management has been drastically improved. A new icon view, list view and an all-new column view mean that files on the iPad appear like on MacOS, showcasing important, rich metadata like file size and date modified.
iCloud Drive supports folder sharing, with support for SMD file server sharing for enhanced collaboration and teamwork.
External storage mediums like external hard drives, thumb drives and SD cards now show up in Files, and Photos are imported from cameras directly into Lightroom. Exactly like on Mac.
Another key gripe has been the dumbed-down web-surfing experience on iPad, that opts for the simpler, scantier mobile version of web pages.
On Safari, however, iPad can now access desktop-class sites with on-device optimisation. This means sites are sized perfectly for iPad while touch inputs are supported. More shortcuts have also been added, along with a download manager.
Key for coders, editors (like myself) and designers alike, the text editing experience on iPad has also been radically improved. Custom fonts are now supported on iPad. A new scroll bar on the right allows for greater speed in navigating lengthy documents, while a single-touch interface controls the cursor.
Most notable are the new three-finger gestures: grab to copy, double-grab to cut, spread to paste, and swipe to the left to undo.
iPad keyboard also supports Quick Path like on iPhone, and shrinks down to a tiny keyboard for better one-handed operation.
Pencil has been improved, too. With an already incredible latency of 20ms, it has now been decreased to 9ms. Pencil now has a full palette of tools natively that can be shifted around for better ergonomics.
Dragging the pencil up from the corner brings apps into Markup, which enables editing and annotating. If it is a “long” site that requires scrolling, the Markup supports it too.
Mac, iMac, MacBook & Mac Pro/MacOS
“We love the Mac!” Tim Cook exclaims, moments before announcing the new Mac Pro – perhaps the biggest, boldest, most outlandishly powerful device ever unveiled at an Apple event.
New 2019 Mac Pro
Reminiscent of the cheese-grater design of yore, the new Mac Pro (starting at USD 5,999) is the absolute top-end of the Mac line tailored to the most demanding of professionals.
With a stainless steel frame as the foundation for modularity and flexibility, the Mac Pro’s build allows for 360-degree access, with large, solid carrying handles for portability. It also comes with wheels for carting around the studio. The build also allows for massive airflow, with about 300 cubic feet of airflow per second, with a unique cooling system that enables it to stay as silent as the iMac Pro.
Within, it is powered by Intel Xeon processors – configurable to up to 28 cores. This demands over 300 watts of power, and is paired with up to 1.5TB of RAM with 12 user-accessible DIMM slots that can accommodate DDR4 EEC memory.
For customisability, PCIe expansion has returned – all eight slots. Also introduced is the Mac Pro Expansion (MPX), which uses a Radeon Pro Vega II chip that enables 14 teraflops, with 32GB of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) 2, although the increased headroom, allows for double the Vega II chips. In what Apple calls the world’s most powerful graphics chip, two Radeon Pro Vega II Duo pairs can be linked with a unique Infinity Fabric Link across MDX Modules to allow for massive data transfers, delivering up to 56 teraflops and 128GB HBM2.
For the most demanding workflows dealing with high-resolution video editing files, a new, hardware-accelerated video card called Afterburner is able to process 6 billion pixels per second. It features great support of ProRes and ProRes Raw codecs, and is able to play back up to three streams of 8K RAW, or 12 streams of 4K RAW, saying goodbye to Proxy Raw. This demands a 1.4kW power supply for the new Mac Pro.
Extensive third-party applications have announced support at launch, and internal Pro apps will also benefit from this massive update. Logic Pro’s new release was showcased live with a 50-percussion joined two 100-piece orchestras … quickly built up to a thousand tracks – more than four times what was possible on the previous iteration enabled.
In Final Cut Pro X, 8K Prores Raw footage was processed with effects in real time, with three streams on screen simultaneously enabled with Afterburner installed.
The new Mac Pro will be available in Fall, with an additional option for rack-mounted systems.
New 2019 Pro Display XDR
To complement the new, ultra-powerful Mac Pro is the Pro Display XDR. Designed to meet the needs of the most demanding users, Apple aimed to pack it all in at an unbeatable price.
The Pro Display XDR (USD 4,999) is a 32-inch LCD, 6K (20 million pixels) display that is the company’s largest Retina display. Everything, from P3 colour gamut, 10 bit encoding, reference modes, and in-factory calibration, it has it all. It also supports superwide viewing angles with a super-wide polariser.
An even more advanced model (USD 5,999) provides a radical antireflective technology produced by precisely etching the display glass with a nanotexture to reduce artefacts and haziness from regular matte coatings.
The XDR in the product’s name refers to an all-new hyper-charged High Dynamic Range – Extreme Dynamic Range. With a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, the Pro Display XDR matches extreme brightness with extreme contrast, never before possible on a display. This involves a new backlighting system with calibrated LED layers that are modulated individually and individually shaded to produce images. This allows the monitor to unleash 1,000 nits of brightness sustained “forever”, boostable to 1,600 nits peak – a feat that requires next-level cooling techniques to sustain.
All this technology is powered by a single Thunderbolt 3 cable. The MacBook Pro can connect to up to two Pro Display XDR monitors at 6K, but the new Mac Pro can manage 6, with a brain-melting total of 120 million pixels. The USD 999 Stand provides precise tilt and lift movements, along with rotation to portrait mode for web pages, developers and artists.
The monitor is easily detachable for quick packing, with a VESA mount (USD 499) for more flexible mounting options. The Pro Monitor XDR will also be available in Fall 2019.
iTunes, deprecated and now officially dead, now finds its spiritual successor in Apple Music, Podcasts and TV.
A redesigned Music app now catalogues all the music, with device syncing still enabled within the Music app. Podcast is a dedicated podcast listening experience on Mac, with machine learning that enables users to more easily search for keywords with more keywords. Apple TV also comes to the Mac ecosystem with 4K HDR playback, HDR 10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
Connecting laptops to an external display is a surefire way to increase productivity. Sidecar now enables MacBook users to use their iPad as secondary display both wired and wirelessly, and even use them as secondary inputs with the Apple Pencil.
Control with Voice for accessibility.
Apple showcased extensive capabilities for the Mac and iPhone to be operated by voice alone, transforming the way these devices are accessed for many.
The new Find My combines Find My iPhone and Find My Friends. Users can now locate Apple devices that are not connected. These could be offline and sleeping, like laptops in a bag. To do this, your devices send out Bluetooth beacon signal that is detected by iOS devices around. This data is encrypted and anonymous, with data piggybacking on existing data packets for efficiency.
To improve theft deterrence on Macs, a new Activation Lock is available on Macs with the T2 security chip. Thieves cannot install an OS or boot without credentials.
iPad apps come to MacOS via Catalyst. News, Stocks voice memos and Home have already made their debut, but Developers on iOS can now access Catalyst on Xcode, allowing Mac features to be automatically implemented on iOS apps when reimplementing for Mac. This allows one development team to work on an app across iPhone, iPad and Mac.
Asphalt 9: Legends took a single day to be redesigned for Mac, and Twitter for Mac was running with native Mac features in just days.
AR is a huge item on the list for Apple, and it blew all the stops at WWDC 2019. With a live showcase that wowed the audience, Minecraft Earth, enabled with ARKit 3 showcased not only Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities but real-time motion capture and people inclusion feature that situates players directly in a supersized Minecraft world – a feature that works exclusively on iOS.
Apart from AR, the next biggest thing on the Apple agenda is coding. More specifically, enabling more people to code. It had done it with Swift Playgrounds, but with SwiftUI, coders can now seamlessly utilise the same paradigm to code – with way less code.
Developers can now implement Apple’s features directly to apps, selecting features from lists, and highlighting lines of code by clicking on visual aspects of the real-time render. Intuition extends to drag-and-drop manipulation of their app, and formatting is as easy as on Pages.
Developers can also switch between designing and interacting with a simple click.
SwiftUI works for iOS apps, but also for WatchOS, MacOS, iPadOS and TVOS – all utilising the same API for easy cross-platform implementation.
All operating systems will be available for consumers July; the software will be available in Fall.