Apple announced numerous new features for devices running its various operating systems during its yearly product rollout at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference, as well as three new versions of its MacBook powered by the company’s M2 chip.
While some were holding out hope for Apple’s foray into the metaverse through an announcement of a headset during the keynote presentation, the company was focused on upgrading its existing applications and hardware for better performance and user experiences.
iOS 16 getting a big boost for iPhone users
Lock Screen Update
On the mobile side of things, Apple revealed its plans for iOS 16 coming to iPhones, including a new type of lock screen that can be dynamic and customized to fit the individual user’s needs. Through this lock screen, different filters can be applied to the photos chosen, and everything from the gradient used in the picture to the font of the screen can be customized. In addition, users can now apply widgets to their lock screen, providing the capability to track a workout or a sports score without having to unlock or scroll through an iPhone. This lock screen customization is very similar to what users can do on an Apple watch face, further tying the company’s ecosystem together.
The messages app for iOS 16 showed off a number of improvements as well, one being the ability to edit or unsend messages as needed, a long awaited feature for devices with messaging capabilities. Another major innovation was improved dictation capabilities for users with automatic punctuation being another key focus. SharePlay was also announced for messages for watching shows or movies, listening to music, and using the Fitness+ app with friends remotely.
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Apple Wallet updates
The Apple Wallet was also given a number of new enhancements, including digital driver’s licenses for certain states, the ability to share hotel keys with others and the new Pay Later feature allowing users to split payments into installments.
One additional feature called out by Apple was a new tool called Safety Check, aimed at protecting users privacy and personal safety. The example given by Apple during the presentation was the safety concerns for users in abusive relationships and problems that sharing passwords and locations can cause. To remedy this, individuals can now shut off these sharing settings along with message and FaceTime capabilities for their device.
iOS 16 is expected to come to iPhones in September 2022.
Apple reveals new hardware, powered by M2 chip
In the hardware space, Apple announced two new MacBook devices, powered by its new M2 processor. A new version of the MacBook Air was revealed to have been designed specifically for the purpose of operating on the M2 chip. The new MacBook Air is purported to be 20% less in volume from previous versions at 11.3mm thin and 2.7 pounds.
As far as the Air’s display, the laptop will boast one billion colors at 500 nits and be 25% brighter than previous models. The new Air will also come with a 1080p resolution FaceTime HD camera with twice the resolution and better low light performance than previous versions. The Air will come with MagSafe and two Thunderbolt ports on the left side of the body, with an audio jack on the right side.
The M2 chip will also help power another MacBook, in the form of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. This version of the Pro will include the Touch Bar and upwards of 20 hours of video playback battery life and 24 GB of unified memory.
The MacBook Air starts at $1,199, while the MacBook Pro 13″ starts at $1,299, with both becoming available next month.
macOS Ventura coming to Apple devices
For those investing in the new MacBook models or working on existing devices, macOS Ventura was announced with a number of new features. The Stage Manager feature allows users to focus on a single task by moving unused apps to the side of the screen, helping to avoid distractions. An improved version of Spotlight will give consumers better control through the app. Users will now be able to take actions through the Spotlight app, such as photos and LiveText.
An update to the Mail app improves search functionality, allowing users to locate a message instantly with more rapid and accurate results. As with iOS 16, Apple has included the undo sent feature, allowing users to unsend a message as needed. Additionally, the ability to schedule when an email was sent and reminders to follow up on a received email will be made available through the app.
Safari is receiving a number of updates as part of macOS Ventura, with the capability to share tab groups with other users if necessary.
A new continuity camera will allow users to use an iPhone wirelessly as a webcam on a Mac, with a stand attaching the mobile device to a display. The iPhone will have the capability to mount to the Mac, per the keynote presentation.
Ventura is expected to be available for Mac devices later this year.
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iPads not being left behind
Not to be forgotten was the iPad, which is receiving a multitude of upgrades with regards to apps, such as an updated weather app, the ability to collaborate with others via the messages app and the new Freeform app. This collaboration functionality will allow users to connect through FaceTime and work together on a shared digital whiteboard to multitask on projects. The whiteboard will be shared in real time, allowing all members on the call to edit the space as needed, with the ability to add anything from sticky notes to entire PDFs.
A number of desktop-grade features were announced to be coming to iPads as part of the event, with a major update to the files app expected to be on the way, and the Stage Manager feature expected to be available on iPads as well.
Apple Watch updates aimed at improving user health
As part of Apple’s WatchOS 9 update, the well-being of users was made a clear priority. The workout app is being revamped through different metrics such as vertical oscillation, which measures how much a user moves up and down, along with training experiences inspired by high-performing athletes. For those looking at more in-depth metrics, items such as stride length and ground contact time can now be tracked through the Apple Watch.
Sleep is another important factor in an individual’s health, and more comprehensive ways of tracking items such as sleep cycles and atrial fibrillation history will give users the ability to share this information if needed for a sleep study.
For those taking medications regularly, reminders can assist users with when to take prescriptions and what dosage needs to be taken. This information can be extended to other users, to allow family members insights on when an individual’s medication has been taken.
WatchOS 9, much like the iOS 16 rollout, is expected in the Fall of this year.