Before the keynote speech by Apple boss Tim Cook at the start of the developer conference on Monday, speculation was so high that in the end everyone was waiting for one thing above all: what does the iPhone company say about its plans, glasses for virtual or augmented reality to build? And with it, possibly the next big thing after the iPhone. The answer on Monday was short: nothing.
Apple presented a lot of new functions that will come in the upcoming versions of the software for iPhones, iPads, Macs and Watches. In addition, the group unveiled its new generation of the in-house computer processor M2, which is to drive the next MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
Even if Apple’s annual developer conference WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) is traditionally primarily about software, there are always indications of which journey the group wants to take. Recently there have been reports that Apple is working intensively on a kind of VR glasses.
For such a device, however, the company would need a large number of applications, which in turn are created by developers. Apple has now missed the opportunity to track down the programmers at their biggest meeting, which suggests that the company may not be ready with its glasses after all.
Still, the company had plenty of news to announce. In particular, new functions for the iPhones are met with great interest. There are more than a billion iPhone users worldwide, most of whom install the annual software update coming in the fall. The next version is called iOS 16.
The most striking thing is probably the new lock screen, which has largely given away its space so far. Users only find the time, date and incoming notifications such as WhatsApp messages there.
In the future, the lock screen can be personalized more. On the one hand, this applies to the font and color, but on the other hand it also applies to widgets, which are already familiar from Android smartphones.
Upcoming appointments, the weather with animation, an alarm clock, time zones, the battery charge level or the activity rings that users know from their Apple Watch can then be displayed there. Live activities will also follow later, for example the current score at a soccer game or the current status of a food delivery.
In the future, users can set up multiple lock screens with different widgets and provide them with a focus mode so that only certain notifications and callers are displayed in special situations – for example in the office or after work.
According to reports, Apple wants to introduce an always-on display with the iPhone 14, which is expected to be presented in September, in which information is then constantly displayed on the display. The Apple Watch already has such a display, but competitors such as Samsung or Google have also had the function on their smartphones for some time.
With its messaging app, Apple is in direct competition with WhatsApp. Apple has fallen behind in terms of functionality. With iOS 16 that should change a bit. In the future, users will be able to retrieve their sent messages, as is already possible with WhatsApp. In addition, messages that have already been sent can be edited, which can be very helpful in the event of an unsuccessful auto-correction.
Messages that have already been read can be marked as unread again. SharePlay, i.e. watching films or listening to music together, will also work in the news app in the future. Previously, this was only possible via the Facetime video call.
Apple is also expanding the functionality of its wallet, but primarily in the United States. There, users who pay with Apple Pay can spread their payments over four repayment installments within six weeks at no additional cost.
The group has not announced whether and when the “Pay later with Apple Pay” function will come to Germany.
With a new iOS version, Apple usually also introduces innovations in its own applications, some of which also get a new design. With iOS 16, this also applies to the home app, which will in future support the new smart home standard Matter, which many large manufacturers have agreed on. This will enable numerous networked products to work together across platforms in the future.
The Health app is complemented by a medication manager that allows users to create a medication list and set up schedules for reminders to take them.
In addition, Apple makes it easier to create parental controls on the iPhone and to revoke permissions granted for third-party access, such as location sharing.
Many of the new iOS functions can also be found in the next iPad OS 16. Apple is increasingly introducing features to the iPad that are gradually making it a notebook replacement. The software update in the fall now takes a big step in this direction, because working with multiple app windows is now flexible, at least on the newer iPads with the in-house M1 chip.
The new window manager is called Stage Manager. The window that is currently being worked on appears large in the display, other open app windows are shown in small form on the left side folded back a little. Up to four apps can also be grouped here.
If an external display is connected to the iPad, it is even possible to display eight app windows at the same time, four on each display. The windows can be made larger and smaller and also stacked on top of each other. This makes working on the iPad even more similar to using a normal computer.
With the new iPad OS, Apple’s weather app is also coming to the device and uses the large display to do so. In future, users can also use the sharing function to prompt other users to collaborate directly from the applications Keynote, Numbers, Pages, Files, Notes, Reminders and Safari.
All users will then see changes to the documents at the same time. So far, only one copy has been sent via the share function. Later this year, Apple introduces a new app for the iPad called Freeform, which is a kind of whiteboard that multiple users can work on at the same time.
In addition to its two new MacBooks, Apple has also given a preview of the new Mac operating system, which has been given the name Ventura. The new window management Stage Manager can also be found here, which supplements the previous overview function under the name Mission Control. Apple has also improved the Spotlight search function.
Apple managed a small surprise with the interaction of the Mac with the iPhone, which in future can be attached to a bracket above the display and then used with its rear cameras as a wireless webcam. This increases the quality of video conferences enormously, even if most applications cannot transmit the full resolution of the rear cameras.
In combination with the ultra-wide-angle camera of the iPhone, a parallel desk view is also possible, simulating a top view of the desk as if there were an overhead camera. However, this should only be helpful for very special situations, for example when creating a DIY video. Professionals would probably use a real camera here.
Facetime video calls can now be transferred to other Apple devices during the call in Ventura. Anyone following such a video conference on the iPhone simply holds it close to their MacBook until a message appears about the transfer, which then has to be clicked.
The innovations for the next WatchOS version are limited. As usual, there are some new watch faces, some additional metrics in the fitness app, and sleep stage detection, which wasn’t possible before. However, most users charge their Apple Watch at night and do without measuring their own sleep.
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