Apple CEO Tim Cook opened up the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) Monday with a mantra of hardware, software and services, but the biggest takeaways are that the Apple Watch will become more independent and the company is honing its focus on health.
The company moved to build out its App Store for WatchOS with curated collections and apps that operate sans the iPhone.
Here's what Apple outlined at WWDC and more importantly why it matters. Public seeds for the software updates will land in July, availability in the fall. Betas available soon.
Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi acknowledged that the iPad has become its own thing "and the time has come to recognize the platform in a special way."
The gist here is that the iPad and features such as slide-over, split-view, drag and drop and pencil are multitasking tools that have their own independent approach.
Certainly, there are some business-friendly features in iPadOS such as the ability to add a thumb drive, separate accounts for business and personal and a download manager.
Multitasking will improve and this will also raise questions about whether iPadOS ultimately evolves to be the operating system of the Mac. One big hint: Federighi said Safari on iPad will have "Desktop-class browsing."
Add it up and Apple's move to pitch the iPad as a laptop replacement has become more real. What remains to be seen is whether iPadOS is the MacOS at some point.
Why it matters? Apple's iPadOS will be big because it sets up another development: The Mac may run on ARM at some point. That move is way easier with iPadOS.
Cook said Apple "loves the Mac" and the company actually delivered something new with the Mac Pro, available this fall, starting at $5,999. It will also be optimized for rack deployments. A display designed to go with it -- the Pro Display XDR -- will be $4,999.
The Mac Pro has a stainless steel frame that's designed for tweaking and modules that can move around the frame. Every subsystem has been optimized.
Mac Pro will be a draw for creative pros with an Intel Xeon processor with up to 28-cores and 300 watts of power.
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Other key items:
- Mac Pro has 1.5 terabytes of system memory;
- Eight internal PCI slots;
- Two Thunderbolt 3 ports;
- Two USB-A ports;
- Two built-in 10 GbE ports;
- An Afterburner expansion card for video editing that can play
- A module, called MPX Module, to replace graphic cards for Nvidia or AMD. Mac Pro will support Radeon Pro 580X, Vega II with the ability to put two Vega II cards together
MacOS will be updated to power the Mac Pro. Federighi outlined the latest MacOS Catalina that included a bevy of pro features. He also confirmed that iTunes has had a good run, but couldn't do much more. MacOS will break iTunes into music, podcast and TV apps.
MacOS Catalina features include:
- SideCar, which enables you to use your iPad as a second display for the Mac. The system works across apps and Apple Pencil.
- Find My is a feature that can locate Apple devices even when they're offline. The feature is a nice bridge to iOS and can be handy. A secure Bluetooth beacon that's encrypted and anonymous enables Find My.
- Activation Lock will prevent a lost or stolen MacBook from starting up.
- Apps in the latest MacOS have also been updated.
- Project Catalyst, a tool that allows iPad developers to easily create Mac apps. Developers will get tools that allow them to check off features that will automatically appear in the Mac app.
Why it matters? Mac Pro can address the workstation market, creative pros and maybe even the server market to some degree. MacOS Catalina lays the foundation between the Mac and iPad OS. The bridge is being built in a way that won't freak out developers or customers. The move to make it easier for iPad developers to bolster Mac apps is big.
Cook said Apple is "taking another leap forward with the Apple Watch" and moves to make the device more independent from the iPhone are a big deal.
Kevin Lynch, vice president of technology at Apple, kicked off with the WatchOS overview with new watch faces (a crowd favorite) and native apps such as voice memos and a calculator with tips.
But with apps that operate independently from iPhone, Apple is setting up for perhaps a bigger hint.
"We're enabling a whole new generation of apps for WatchOS," said Lynch, who also outlined a new app store. Dictation, scribble and Siri will get you into the App Store.
When the dust clears, the WatchOS 6 update may be the most important development. Apple has given the Apple Watch some independence by enabling cellular connections, but the device still needs the iPhone.
Apple Watch needs to break free entirely and an App Store devoted to the device is a good start. Why? Anecdotally speaking, Apple Watch users are picking up their iPhone less, tracking health more and ultimately setting the stage for more enterprise use cases. Apple Watch can be as big as the iPhone and it's time to cut it loose.
Why it matters? Peak iPhone has come and gone. And the iPhone of 2019 isn't likely to have 5G. As a result, everyone will wait until 2020. Apple needs something to hold the fort. That something is the Apple Watch.
Apple overhauled a bevy of native apps in iOS 13 including new Maps with more land and air data. Many of the map features will allow you to create collections similar to what Google offers. The new spin for Apple is that iOS 13 will give users a lot more privacy controls.
Meanwhile, to-do lists were updated along with Safari and Notes. Mail will get more rich formatting.
Federighi wrapped many of the updates into privacy for sharing location and signing in. Apple added features to keep personal emails private and allow users to provide a random email address. Each app will have a unique random address for "when you're tired of hearing from that app."
Privacy controls over your data is a core theme for Apple all the way to HomeKit and its interaction with security cameras.
Interesting items include:
- HomeKit Secure Video -- video is encrypted with 10 days of iCloud storage.
- "Sign in with Apple" will give Apple more of a gatekeeper role in identity over the likes of Google and Facebook.
- New sharing controls in Messages.
Apple's iOS will also provide more picture editing in video as well as photo features. The photo app also gets an overhaul for easier browsing. Apple iOS 13 will remove clutter and create a "diary of your life."
And yes, these photo app updates will rhyme with the way Google and Amazon handle organization.
Other iOS 13 items worth noting:
- AirPods will enable Siri to read incoming messages to you and allow you to respond via Announce Messages. AirPods will also get audio sharing via a simple tap.
- HomePod can recognize voices and offer a personalized response.
- Siri gets neural text to speech with better cadence and more complex sentences.
Why it matters? Apple has added a series of performance improvements as well as Memoji new features (naturally), but the privacy controls are the biggest item.
Sign in with Apple and the privacy mantra
Apple outlined Sign in with Apple with a feature that adds privacy, enables random email addresses and gives customers more control over how data is shared. What's interesting is that Apple is taking on Google and Facebook, two companies that often serve as sign-in vehicles for Web sites and apps.
Clearly, Apple is pitching itself as the privacy-centric technology giant. The company is aiming to limit tracking.
In an exclusive interview with CBS News' Norah O'Donnell, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that his company wasn't trying to take on Google and Facebook for first-party data, but moving privacy protections forward. Cook said:
You know, we're not really taking a shot at anybody. We're – we focus on the user. And the user wants the ability to go across numerous properties on the web without being under surveillance. We're moving privacy protections forward. And I actually think it's a very reasonable request for people to make.
Why it matters? Cook may argue that Apple's sign-in effort isn't about first party data, but it's clear that the company sees privacy as a way to differentiate itself from Google and Facebook. There's also a regulatory angle here too. As Congress is examining big tech, Apple's privacy efforts may help win regulators over.
New Health App
Health App has been redesigned with a new summary view with data and highlights, charts over time and machine learning to determine what's interesting to users, said Lynch.
Apple overhauled Activity trends for Apple Watch with hearing health features to track decibel levels. Apple's health app overhaul will hit Apple Watch and iOS.
Activity will now compare your progress over the last 90 days vs the last 365. If you're trending up, great. If you're trending down, it'll recommend things like climbing more stairs or running a faster pace.
Women's cycle tracking was also added to the Apple Watch health app.
Yes, Apple can profit from digital health and well being, but the money is in corporate plans. Fitbit has pivoted to developing an enterprise health business on track to top $100 million in annual revenue. Apple can do the same.
Why it matters? Apple needs to update many of its apps, but health is the one that has the most money and impact around the corner.
RealityKit, ARKit 3
RealityKit is built for augmented reality and 3D software. There's also native ARKit integration. The idea here is that there will be an Xcode tool and app.
ARKit 3 will also include a feature called People Occlusion to layer people in a scene as well as something called Motion Capture.
Minecraft was a demo showing how AR can work with the game. The demo highlighted how Minecraft can sit on a table using ARKit and RealityKit.
ARKit is a player with developers and there's an opportunity with iOS to broaden Apple augmented reality reach. Watch ARKit comments closely. Meanwhile, Cook already gave AR a good bit of play at SAP Sapphire. Federighi noted that 2019 will be a big year for AR.
Apple also outlined changes to App Store policies with VPN, mobile device management and privacy requirements.
Why it matters? Hell, Apple is already among the top three in smart glasses and it doesn't even have a product yet. Apple is likely to have AR glasses at some point and WWDC may yield a few more clues. Again, Apple's AR strategy is all about business. The enterprise use cases are everywhere for AR.
Swift is being updated with a new UI and features that take hundreds of lines and cram it down to just a few. By automatically adding tools to move toward low code, Apple is simplifying workflows for developers.
Swift UI will create automated transitions and offer a bevy of new features. Apple is also adding a framework to building Apple Watch apps. Swift UI will be available across all platforms with a common API.
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Why it matters? The world is going low code and Apple's move to streamline developer workflows is critical to keep them on the platform.
Apple outlined TVOS and multi-user support, which brings it in line with multiple viewers with personalized recommendations. In other words, TVOS will match what Netflix already has.
Yet, TVOS is also a window into personalized Apple Music delivery as well as its services content. Cook promised the best music experience on TV. And TVOS will be a way into Apple's game services with hooks into controllers for Sony PlayStation and Microsoft XBox.
Why it matters? TVOS is a window to Apple's services and the company needs to keep up with the digital living room.
The BS bin
Apple iOS 13 got its dark mode. At the end of the day all Apple is doing is matching Android Q. Dark is easier on the eyes and saves battery life -- maybe. What's not to love? To hear Federighi talk about how much dark mode will change your life was comical given Apple had far meatier things on deck.
The other almost comical development is that Apple is likely to kill iTunes for Apple Music and podcasts apps. Forgive me for not realizing that ITUNES WASN'T DEAD IN 2012. iTunes was a bloated mess for years so let's not get crazy and think it's a big deal that Apple is killing it. Apple should have nixed iTunes years ago.
Why it matters? It doesn't. Dark mode is nice but a diversion. And as far as iTunes go file it into the "whatever" category.
More WWDC 2019 coverage:
- WWDC 2019: Apple announces 'Sign in with Apple' feature
- WWDC 2019: Keynote highlights a massive problem with Apple
- WWDC 2019: Apple Watch apps break free from the iPhone, but there's a catch
- WWDC 2019: Apple debuts new privacy features in iOS 13
- WWDC 2019: Apple unveils iPadOS with improved Safari, multitasking, homescreen
- WWDC 2019: Apple Pro Display XDR tech specs
- WWDC 2019: Apple's new Mac Pro is a monster of a workstation
- WWDC 2019: Apple's Project Catalyst brings iPad apps to the Mac
- WWDC 2019: iOS 13 will make your iPhone and iPad faster
- Apple WatchOS 6 updates: App Store, women's health, more complications
- Apple WWDC 2019 keynote: Scenes and surprises