As Apple CEO Tim Cook concluded his keynote at the San Jose Convention Centre, one thing was clear: this was an Apple Worldwide Developer Conference like none other, given that there was no mention of hardware. However, there were some clear indicators on the direction Apple wants to take: it wants to offer a unified experience across the multiple devices and operating systems it offers, it wants to highlight its stands as the more secure platform out there and it wants to push Augmented Reality like no other company has.
With iOS 12, which will be available for developers to start working on from today, Apple claims it is pushing for performance like never before. It is also opening up the OS for all devices that were capable of using the earlier version, so there were no new devices that were excluded from this release, which automatically gives iOS 12 a wide user base than its predecessors ever had.
But the biggest highlight of iOS 12 will be how it brings in Augmented Reality into daily use with a new Apple app called Measure. No, it is not new for apps to use AR to measure surfaces or areas, but when Apple pushed this as a native app then it means business and gives the technology a push like never before. With the app running on all apps that have iOS 12, more people will be exposed to AR as a technology and will most probably prompt them to adopt other AR apps at a faster pace.
Also, it seems Apple’s new USDZ file format, created in collaboration with Pixar, could be the other push AR has been waiting for given that it makes content created using ARkit much more easier to port and work on.
Along with a bunch of other features, notably Shortcuts on Siri, Apple is also finding ways to get users to use the phone less with iOS 12. There will be new features that will give users a deep dive on how much they use the phone, which apps consume the most time and which apps are drawing them in. And if self-control does not help, there will be features that will let users limit their usage of a particular app across devices. This will also work with children and enable parents to control the type and time of access. In fact, while this new Screen Time limits the use of the device itself, it might end up being a good selling point for Apple devices as addiction to devices and certain apps are emerging as a big issue globally.
Taking a cue from rival Samsung, iOS 12 will usher in new Memojis created based on the user’s characteristics. Also, Facetime will now be able to patch videos calls with up to 32 people at the same time and offer a very unique to make that conversation coherent.
Apple also announced the release of macOS Mojave named after the desert in California. The new OS will stand out for its dark side, in the form of a dark mode that will turn the focus on the content. It will also offer quick editing options for all types of file formats even as it is being previewed. There will be a desktop that will automatically be more organised thanks to stacks and a new app store that will preview an app’s functionality even before you download it. macOS Mojave will also bring in more security for the feature by making it impossible to track users or device characteristics from outside via cookies or other means. There will also be the advent of some iOS apps like Apple News, Stocks and Voice Memos which seems to be the start of something big as third party developers will be able to do the same by next year.
On WatchOS, Siri will now be able to execute the new shortcuts to kick of routines. There will also be a walkie-talkie mode for friends to interact and more automated workout options based on activity monitoring. And users will finally be able to browse websites on the smallest Apple screen, if they really want to. On tvOS, 4K content will not get Dolby Atom audio integration.
Clearly, Apple is now thinking more in terms of offering the software that offers the best user experience across all its devices, whatever be the size of the screen.
*The writer is in California on the invite of Apple.