WWDC kicked off yesterday, June 13th around 10:00 AM PDT. Interestingly, unlike most of the previous WWDC events, there was a lull before we went in to the event, with very little known about what we could expect from the same. As expected, the event began with Tim Cook taking the stage, thanking everyone for their love and support and affirming that they are doing their best work in their lives at Apple right now. There were numbers and stats thrown in alongside some videos. Once the razzmatazz was done away with, it was down to business and we witnessed some really cool things on stage.
As expected, there was no hardware announcement and the event was all around the OS story, in fact Apple did cover all the four major OS that it is servicing at the event. The developer Beta version of all the three OS are already out, with Public Beta beginning as early as July. The public release will be sometime in fall, most likely along with the new iPhones and Macs. Let’s quickly look at the top announcements, OS wise:
The watchOS 3 has been made faster and much sleeker. Apple has added support to keep apps running in the background and refreshing periodically which will dramatically reduce the time that the app takes to launch. App launches will be about 7 times faster. Not just this, Apple introduced a new way to launch these apps, as they live like apps live in the memory of an iPhone in a card format by pressing the side button, below the digital crown. There is a new control center, activated by swiping from bottom to top, just like on the iPhone. Apple also introduced a few new watchfaces, which can now be changed by a single swipe and the ability to scribble in and send responses in your own handwriting, right from the watch. A neat SOS feature was also demonstrated where if you long press the hardware button, the watch will automatically call for SOS.
The update to the tvOS was a minor one. Apple announced a new remote control for the iPhone for connecting to the Apple TV. Not just this, you can now ask Siri to play YouTube videos for you and there is Live Tune in support built in for several more channels. Another big announcement was the ability to single sign on, so that you no more have to authenticate every single channel. The TV will also come with a new dark theme so that you do not have to strain your eyes when watching in absolute pitch dark conditions. Apps that you download on your iPhone and iPad, if they have a version for the tvOS, they will be downloaded directly too.
You must have noticed, how we did not write OS X here. That is because Apple has decided to follow the suite of current lineup and do away with OS X for a more modern name in the form of macOS. The first macOS will be called the macOS Sierra. The update brings Siri to your Mac and it can do pretty much everything that it could on mobile. Apple also confirmed that Apple Pay is coming to Safari, where if merchants implement it, you can pay for your shopping right from there. An interesting video in video mode was announced too for Safari, that basically lets you play the video files that you are on the desktop in a neat window on the side and carry on with your usual work. Apple also announced a Universal Clipboard that you can use, which will copy the contents across all your devices, so pushing content from one device to the other will be super easy. iCloud drive got a bump too, which is now capable of mimicking your desktop across devices, including on iPhone.
The biggest update of the evening was left for iOS 10. Tim Cook called it the ‘mother’ of all updates and you would tend to agree. The lockscreen is redesigned with a little more in depth and detailed notifications on a translucent layer. 3D Touch lets you interact with notifications right on the lockscreen. You can just simply swipe to the left to bring the camera up now. Widgets can be accessed from the lock screen by swiping to the right. The Control Center has a new page now for your album art and music playing. Talking of music, Apple has redesigned the Apple Music app, on all the platforms. You have a cleaner interface and more focus on what is being played. Lyrics support has been added by default.
Apple also showcased that 3D Touch is now capable of more than just transporting you within sections of the app, you can now, for example, get a preview of your inbox too with 3D Touch. Siri has been opened to developers and brings 3rd party app integration. This would be really handy for the likes of WeChat or any other IM service. The iMessage app has got a major update with a ton of new messaging features such as emojification of text, new animations in the background of the chat window, auto-suggestive replies as well as the ability to send text with effects added. This iMessage app is open to developers too, to bring their own apps on top of it for features like stickers and GIFs and more. Apple showed off voicemail transcript, so you can now simply read the voice mail instead of listening. Apple News app has been updated to a new design too alongside adding subscription. There is a ton of other good stuff on iOS 10 too, including side-by-side tab view on Safari for iPad, editing of Live Photos, new threaded view for e-mail reading and more.
Overall, the event would not be something that would fascinate those who were waiting for a new hardware, like possibly new MacBooks. Yet, for the sake of current lineup of devices, the event shows that Apple is spending a lot of time trying to solve the problem of complexity, where, be it your Watch, your phone or computer, they want all of them to work in synergy and also learn from you so that you do not have to repeat redundant actions.