Today was the first day for Apple WWDC 2018, and as you can imagine, there were some pretty big announcements. The biggest announcement just might be iOS 12. Tim Cook and his team focused their speech on software. In fact, there was no new hardware shown. Last year’s conference showed us the HomePod as well as two of the more recent iPad models. The HomePod, however, hasn’t been doing well, so perhaps Apple felt it was time to focus on what they can get right, rather than trying to bring us something new.
There was a lot of pressure to deliver a really great keynote because of the amazing one we saw at Google IO last month. Not only that, but Apple still had to make amends for all the iOS 11 problems. That said, it wasn’t the biggest WWDC, and some have called it underwhelming. But Apple is bringing us a refined iOS 12 and some other, much needed OS updates. This conference isn’t just about what is new and exciting from Apple, but it’s also a chance for developers to learn what Apple will be working on so they can start planning.
For the rest of us, however, WWDC is a chance for Apple to tell us what they’re doing well, and where they’re trying to improve. In this particular case, it was a time to look at interface refinements for all of their current devices. Whether it’s an iPhone, an iPad or an Apple Watch, Apple is looking to make some improvements. Not only that, but they are also theorizing about what the iPhone 9 and XI could look like.
iOS 12 – Confirmed
Apple started WWDC by showing us (quickly) some of the new features in iOS 12. iOS was due to see an intriguing home screen redesign, as well as changes to apps like Mail and Camera, but these updates have been put on hold in order to work on stability and performance improvements. I think it’s interesting that they’re choosing this to be their focus because that’s the one thing that people have been complaining about for a while now. Perhaps a screen redesign would have been nice, but performance is key, in my opinion. What will this look like? Apple says that keyboards on an older phone like an iPhone 6S Plus will start 50% faster than it could before.
Siri Gets Smarter
Siri has needed an update for a very long time. I mean, this is the one thing that Apple has said they were going to improve, but they never really do it. I feel like they just talk about it. That said, Apple has sort of updated Siri with a new feature called “Shortcuts”. It integrates with apps in order to build bespoke voice commands. The example that is given is using Tile Bluetooth tracker to find your keys. But will this actually work?
Apple is focusing on the wellness theme when it comes to the Apple Watch. WatchOS 5 will give you a ton of health and fitness support, and even give you challenges for groups of friends. This sounds an awful lot like the Fitbit challenges doesn’t it? Well, now Yoga exercises can be tracked based on heart rate, hiking makes use of heart rate and altitude and there’s a rolling mile pace tracker for running in Workouts.
But it doesn’t stop there. Podcasts is now going to be available on your wrist. That’s right, you can sync your favorite podcasts across your devices. This is something that we’ve been patiently waiting for, but is this all that it could be? In order for it to work, you will need an Apple Watch with LTE connectivity. The good news – you can leave your iPhone at home while you’re out for your run, but it means that you have to have an Apple Watch Series 3 in order for it to work. So it’s a bit of good news and bad news.
Last, but not least, Apple has announced a new feature which will allow you to communicate with your friends directly through the Apple Watch. Known as “Walkie Talkie”, the app will let you talk to others on their Watches. What’s the catch? Again, you need to be connected using wifi or have one of the Watches with LTE connectivity. This feature doesn’t feel like it would be something that would be all that useful. Sure, this might be a fun feature, but I’m not sure how useful it will actually be. Apple first started talking about a walkie-talkie feature back in 2014, but it’s taken them this long to implement. I wonder why? Regardless, it feels a bit like Apple is grasping at straws with this one.