There’s no new hardware. But at least Apple introduced thoughtful updates to its various operating systems.
Group Facetime in iOS 12 will let you chat with up to 32 people.
The new Memoji feature sure looks familiar.
WWDC has always left me with mixed feelings, and this year was no diﬀerent.
I will begin by addressing the elephant in the room. Despite rumors that there would be no new hardware, I was secretly hoping Apple would announce new Macs. Especially since Intel recently launched 8th generation Core processors that were well suited to Apple’s needs. After all, last year’s WWDC 2017 saw Apple introduce not only the iMac Pro but also the HomePod and 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Hopefully, this means that the new Macs that are inevitably coming will have more than a processor upgrade. One can always dream.
iOS 12 doesn’t introduce many new features, instead, it focuses on improving performance. Apps will launch up to 40% faster on an older iOS device like the iPhone 6s, which is a significant improvement. Still, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that there’s no real wonder as most of the other updates are incremental ones. Group FaceTime is nifty if you have a use for it. More intelligent searching and organizing in Photos is definitely welcome. And I guess Memoji will keep iPhone X owners entertained.
macOS Mojave gets a system-wide dark mode.
The biggest update to iOS 12 is Screen Time and enhancements to Siri. Screen Time provides analysis about your iPhone usage, and lets you set restrictions if you think you have been using it too much. For parents, Screen Time also provides a report of your children’s usage. It lets you set parental controls to manage your children’s device usage. Sounds like a potential lifesaver. Siri also gets Siri Shortcuts, which allows users to create their own Siri commands. It works like IFTTT or Workflow, in a way. It has the potential to make Siri infinitely more useful.
watchOS 5 gets quality of life updates such as auto-detection of workouts. You’ll no longer have to say, ‘Hey Siri’ to activate Siri, raising your watch will suﬃce. And Apple Watch gains the ability to preview web content.
The Workout app also gets new modes in the form of yoga and hiking, and the ability for runners to track cadence. watchOS has always received smaller updates as compared to iOS and macOS, so these announcements are not all that surprising. Still, I think most users would like to see more. Spotify users, in particular, were hoping that the Spotify app would come to watchOS. That would allow owners of the Apple Watch Series 3 Cellular to stream Spotify over the watch. But it is clear that Apple wants to keep the Watch exclusive to Apple Music for now — and I can’t blame them.
macOS has felt neglected at times, especially with last year’s High Sierra. So it is nice to see that macOS Mojave will have a couple of important updates. The new system-wide dark mode is something that many users, myself included, have been clamoring for. I find a darkened interface easier on the eyes and I can’t wait to try it. The redesigned Mac App Store is significant, as it brings the Mac store in step with the iOS App Store refresh from last year. Apple also announced that Microsoft and Adobe would be launching apps on the Mac App Store later this year. Hopefully, this will breathe new life into the Mac App Store and encourage more users and developers to use it.
Safari is getting nice security and privacy updates. Intelligent Tracking Prevention will block social media buttons to prevent sites from tracking users without permission. Safari will also present simplified system information to sites. This prevents sites from identifying and tracking users based on their system configurations. Safari will also be able to generate and save secure passwords like a password manager. Plus, favicons in tabs is finally making a return!
2018 marked an uneventful WWDC. But many of the new features are thoughtful, and there will be those who appreciate them. I’m most excited about Screen Time on iOS, not having to say, ‘Hey Siri,’ every time I raise my Watch, and having a more secure Safari. Nevertheless, here’s hoping that Apple has more up its sleeves to show later this year.
THE DEVELOPERS’ TAKE ON WWDC 2018
While the public’s reaction to WWDC 2018 has been lukewarm, developers that I spoke to after the keynote were more positive. Many were happy to learn that Apple is doubling down on performance in iOS 12 and keeping it available on older devices. A more eﬃcient OS means apps have more headroom to perform.
Developers were also excited about Siri Shortcuts, which lets users create custom Siri commands. Hon Cheng, the man behind the popular SG NextBus app, is looking forward to using Siri Shortcuts so users can use Siri to call up arrival times for buses. Thongchai and Thomas, engineers on popular video-streaming app Viki, were excited about giving users the ability to use Siri to launch and play videos.