I only realized that I never posted this. It was supposed to be posted in June the week of WWDC. This is being posted now for archival purposes so it could be read as a reference for new content.
This week Apple held their annual WWDC developer conference. For the first time, it was entirely online and free for everyone. For the first time, I’ve decided to cover both the Keynote and the Platforms State of the Union (which I’ve never covered before because it usually an in-person only event which is only available online to developers if anyone). In this article, I’ll be covering both.
Due to COVID Apple witch required them to go online-only They did a great job producing pre-recorded presentations and other content. Overall I liked the format but I would miss the live keynote format if they decide to make a permanent transition. I think to move to a hybrid live and pre-recorded model would do them well.
This year Apple made lots of announcements their heavily rumoured transition to in-house manufactured chips. They also announced some software updates and lots of developer stuff.
During the Keynote Apple announced the detail of this year’s feature software updates. They also announced their heavily rumoured transition to in-house manufactured chips. Also announced were some app updates and updates to CarPlay.
iOS got some major software updates including the introduction of the App Library and Widgets. It also has some more minor updates to some of the built-in apps.
App Library is a place to store home screen widgets on the last page. It includes spotlight search, Siri recommendations, auto-sorted folders and, widgets.
The next thing they announced was a long-awaited minor feature Widgets. They have design characteristics similar to Windows Phone and use characteristics similar to Android. There’s also a cool smart widget that changes based on predictive AI.
Siri is being redesigned to less disruptive (see photo at end of section). Siri also has a bunch of other features including .audio messages and on-device dictation.
Apple Maps is getting lots of feature updates. The first announcement regarding Apple Maps was that they are bringing cycling directions in NYC, SF, Beijing, LA and, Shanghai. Another important feature set added into Maps was the set of EV related features including EV routing, charge tracking and, charger locations (with compatibility).
CarPlay didn’t get many major updates but there was one big update. First, the small things: they added: food ordering apps, app categories and wallpapers. Now the biggest of the CarPlay feature CatKey. Quoting MacRumors: “Apple’s iPhones and Apple Watches have supported NFC for some time now, and in the future, those NFC capabilities will be used to allow Apple users to lock, unlock, and start compatible NFC-enabled vehicles using the iPhone or Apple Watch in lieu of a physical key.”
iPadOS didn’t get many updates that regular iOS didn’t get,. The two features that iPadOS got and iOS didn’t are a three-paned app setup and scribble.
WatchOS may have been the OS that got the most influential with the masses’ features. WatchOS 14 adds shareable custom watch faces, new dance workouts (the workouts app got renamed fitness) and, the biggest feature addition in WatchOS 14 is sleep tracking: it includes wind-down mode and, integrations with Siri Shortcuts: but the one feature that missing is sleep stage tracking
They also talked about new features coming to AirPods and their plans around privacy.
AirPods will be getting automatic device switching and specifically, the AirPods Pro are getting directional audio with Dolby that has an interesting feature that detects physical location with the built-in accelerometers. The example they gave was being on an airplane and the AirPods detecting that the plane was banking and shifts around.
Sign-in with Apple is getting. a feature update. Firstly, Sign-in with Apple now allows devs to allow users to connect their existing accounts. They also announced that tracking protection is coming to apps also now the App Store will show security audits of apps in their listing.
macOS was next, the new version name is Big Sur and during the intro Craig Federighi (the presenter) made a long-winded rant about the naming scheme being confidential.
macOS Big Sur is getting lots of new design features and new design language. The UI in Big Sur is sort of converging with iPad’s UI with transparency and more pronounced curved edges. It’s gaining characteristics similar to Google’s Material Design in Android. The Dock, menus and, the menubar are now translucent and spacing between menu items is being increased.
Apple announced that a Catalyst version of Messages will be coming to Mac and will include most features that aren’t there already. Maps for Mac got a couple of minor updates: indoor maps and look around. Safari for Mac will be getting privacy reports similar to the one on IOS. It’ll also support the Web Extensions API which means that it’ll also support cross-browser extensions and extensions will be managed through the App Store now.
The big announcement from WWDC was that Apple is transitioning from Intel chips to its own in-house chips. This transition would allow Apple more control over the chips and which means that the chips could be more tailored to the device. Look at the iPad, it performs well and is a tablet. They then went on to mention that the whole demo from an ARM-powered prototype, it appeared to perform very well. XCode automatically converts apps from Intel to ARM and Macs will be able to run IOS apps directly. Also, they are calling their chips Apple silicon.
Apple said that they will be supporting Intel Macs for the foreseeable future and the first ARM mac will be coming later this year. They also still have Intel-based macs in the pipeline. The transition is planned to be completed in the next 2 years. Developers are now able to request an ARM dev kit: it’s $500 for a rental, you need to be a paying member of the Apple Developer Program and, you’ll be required to write an essay on what you’ll be developing with it.
I’ll put links to more in-depth coverage of the transition in the links section of the article.
I decided to not cover the Platforms State of the Union because this article is already very long and has taken me days to write. I’ll provide links to coverage of it in the links section. To watch it without commentary you’ll need the Apple Developers app.
|Keynote||iOS 14||fPadOS 14||WatchOS 7||macOS Big Sur||Apple silicon||Platforms State of the Union|
|Official Stream||iMore||More||More||More||More||Apple Official Video|
|TWiT||iOS Today||MacBreak Weekly|
|Brian Tong||Rene Richie||Rene Richie||Rene Richie||Rene Richie|
|Marques Brownlee||Impressions||iOS 14||Phil Schiller Interview|