Over 5,000 attendees from 74 different countries are in San Francisco this week for Apple’s 27th annual Worldwide Development Conference which kicked off today with a Keynote from CEO Tim Cook and his executives at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
For 2016, it’s a story of nothing big but lots of little things as Apple packed in a huge number of software advances into the two-hour keynote.
The event was dedicated entirely to software as this is a week-long conference for developers worldwide, with a look at new software for all of Apple’s platforms – across four operating Systems, iOS, watchOS, tvOS and OS X – now called macOS (More on that soon).
On iOS alone there are now 2 million apps, with over 130 billion downloads between them and after Apple takes their share of the revenue a cool $50,000,000,000 has been paid to developers around the world.
Lets roll through all the announcements from WWDC today!
The Apple Watch is only a year old, and despite plenty of naysayers in the market is a very successful device, easily the most successful Smart watch on the market.
At WWDC Apple have addressed some fundamental issues with the Watch through speed and app development improvements.
The new watchOS 3 will allow apps to be kept in the memory of the watch, perform background updates and have almost instant launch times.
A demonstration on stage between watchOS 2 and watchOS 3 showed a 7 times improvement in launch time – Watch owners will know of the spinning dots while waiting for an App to launch – that’s almost gone, assuming your app is updated to take advantage of watchOS 3.
The new operating system for Apple Watch owners will be available later this year, and really does change the watch all over.
On the side of the watch itself – the “friends” button is now a launcher for an “app dock” giving you fast access to your favourite apps. The apps show in a sideways carousel like watch-faces currently do. The apps are shown in real-time with updated data.
The button also activates an emergency call feature if pressed and held for some time. Once 000 has been called your emergency contacts are sent a text and map too.
For those who want a better way to reply to messages, a new Scribble feature allows you to scribble one letter at a time over each other on a scratch pad to type out words – this makes replying a whole lot easier.
Meanwhile, for those Apple Watch owners who are wheelchair bound, Apple has put a lot of effort into creating a customised experience. Alerts to “get up” are changed to time to “roll”
All in all, this is a much needed upgrade, that shows the device itself doesn’t need an upgrade, but acknowledges the importance of fast running software for users.
The update will be a welcome addition for Watch Owners.
Often with Apple TV we have to wait for Aussie launch to know what will really show for us in Australia – so let’s look at what might be new based on the new tvOS update.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly the “Remote” app will be updated to control your new Apple TV, with a touchpad area for navigation, using the phone’s accelerometer and gyroscope to enable it as a game controller and use Siri commands all from your phone.
A host of new video channels were announced, which are very US centric – expect updates from Aussie catch up services over the months ahead.
If you don’t like the bright white Apple TV home screen, you can now choose a “Dark mode” which creates a dark-grey background for the main TV screen.
App downloads can now be automatic, so if you install an app on your iPhone that has a tvOS app, it will automatically update and download to your Apple TV.
Oh, and if you’ve ever seen a screen like this:
You’ll be pleased to know Apple is working on a Single Sign-on feature across tvOS and iOS allowing you to simplify your login to the many and growing number of streaming services.
Yes, it’s called macOS now, having been called OS X and variants in between for the last 15 years, it was time to bring the desktop operating system in-line with the Apple Watch, iPhone and TV operating systems (watchOS, iOS, tvOS)
Aside from the name, there are new continuity features that make moving from your mobile device to desktop easier. There’s an auto-unlock function which uses the proximity of your Apple Watch to ensure you don’t’ need to put a password into your Mac. It’s a simple little trick that for a hard core Apple user will make life very easy.
Apple also introduced a new universal clipboard, this means if you copy text on your iPhone you can hit paste on your Mac to paste it. And the iCloud drive has expanded to mirror your desktop files across Mac devices. A nice touch, but beware your internet data usage!
While Apple Pay is taking time to expand into Australia, it will now also be available on the web. Online retailers will be able to offer an “Apple Pay” icon for payment, and users will verify their payment using their mobile device. Fingerprint verified or Apple Watch verified.
If you love watching video on your mac, you can now use a Picture in Picture button to watch videos in a pop up window over the top of all your active windows.
The real standout for macOS though was Siri. Siri is now available in the new macOS Sierra, and allows more than just personal assistant tasks, Siri can control your music and files.
You can ask Siri to “find files I created last Tuesday” or similar. And use follow up searches to narrow down your searches.
Siri Integration goes head to head with Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant on Windows 10, which has a several month head start – companies like Lenovo have been demonstrating file search and refinement using Cortana for a year now.
Siri on the mac is a much more usable experience for many than even the phone, as the mac is often used in a small or private space like your home or home office.
There will be a public beta from July, with full availability later this year.
Apple describe iOS 10 as “the biggest release ever for users”.
First up, the home screen has become a whole new look. Critically, you don’t need to press anything – just lifting the phone up will show your lock screen.
Notifications are redesigned to have a fresh new look, and with 3D touch you can interact with notifications in a much richer way.
The control centre is updated and redesigned with a specific music panel accessible with a swipe.
Access to the camera is easier than ever, with a swipe from right edge to left launching the camera app directly, instead of the swipe up and press of the camera button.
The big news for developers here in San Francisco is Siri – access to Siri will now be available to Developers, so you can use Siri for third-party apps. For example, you can imagine What’s App integration where you can say “Hey Siri, What’s App Amanda I’m going to be late tonight”, or “Hey Siri, tweet what a game” and it’s possible those apps can perform those functions without you ever touching the keyboard.
In iOS 10 the predictive text functions will be enhanced with Siri predictive text – using deep learning to enable intelligent suggestions.
Your Photo Gallery will never look the same – Using your iPhone’s own processing power there will be Facial recognition and sorting of photos, as well as objects like Cars or Horses.
Photos will also be gathered together as “memories” which will be “offered to you” at the appropriate time. Get ready for a whole new set of “on this day” reflections folks!
If you’ve got access to Visual Voicemail, the listed on-demand voicemail system in the Phone app, iOS 10 will offer text transcription for those messages.
Mobile carriers beware too – phone calls via Skype, or What’s App or Facebook are about to change allowing those apps to push call notifications on your phone in the same way as your normal calls – it looks the same, you swipe to answer the same – so much better than the pop up notifications we currently see.
Probably the biggest update for iOS though is iMessage. iMessage is being updated with rich links in the thread, so if you share a YouTube video link with a friend, the video itself will appear in the iMessage thread. Oh and if you love emoji’s, the icons will now appear three times bigger, and predictive text will suggest emojis – and after you’ve typed a message you can have iOS show you which words can be replaced by an emoji.
And for added emotion, you can now customise the bubble the message appears in, making them stand out, be subtle or even be “invisible” until the user swipes over it.
iOS 10 comes out later in the year in line with the next iPhone and will work backwards to the iPhone 5 and iPad 2.
Apple Maps is being updated with new turn by turn navigation capabilities for route planning and navigation on the go, with strong Car Play integration including turn directions on the instrument cluster in compatible cars.
The Maps service is also getting open access for developers, so you’ll see more Apple Maps appearing in apps instead of Google Maps as time rolls on.
Up against the mighty Spotify Apple claims 15 Million Paid subscribers which Apple claim is the fastest growth for any service’s first year.
The new Apple Music app looks much “cleaner” look, and the “Library” is much easier to navigate and even the now playing screen is updated with Lyrics.
Apple News has been complete redesigned, giving you a more newspaper style look and home screen, rather than the publication by publication look currently.
Home Kit has been updated to allow cameras, Door Locks and other products to be integrated. Home Kit is one of those great things under the hood for iOS users, but it’s taking some time to roll out as we get new products and capabilities from manufacturers.
To bring Home Kit to life, Apple has added a new “Home” app to iPhone which gives direct access to functions or scenes like “I’m home” or “good night” which will adjust various products in a single touch, or using Siri.
As you can see from this list of features overall, there’s a whole lot of small new features, and most importantly a whole lot more developer access than ever with Maps and Siri in particular. This should drive new innovation in app development over the next year or so.
Trevor Long travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Apple – Click here for Full details of commercial interests and disclosures