I love watching the opening Keynote for WWDC, Apple’s annual software developer conference. They give an overview of the hundreds of new features coming to their software later in the year.
Here’s a brief overview of the things they announced that I’m excited about (or interested in) this year, starting with more general features:
- Voice Control is a huge accessibility win and there’s a reason this is first on the list. Possibly the most exciting and unexpected feature Apple announced. Now you can use your Mac, iPhone or iPad just by talking to it
- iCloud Drive folder sharing is making Dropbox feel even more redundant. Now if only they allowed sharing documents by link…
- Notes folder sharing. It’a insane that my wife and I have had to share notes from the same projects on a note-by-note basis
- A contact list for children which allows communication with contacts only, and those contacts are managed by a parent. This is a big deal for when we give our eldest her first phone
- Managed Apple IDs for business sounds good; I wonder if they’ll start doing more for businesses? I’d sign up for a custom domain email service like Gmail in an instant
tvOS and HomePod
- It has long been a bug-bear of mine that I can only have one user account for my Apple TV. I can now add my wife’s Apple ID account so we can have our own films, TV shows and apps up-front and centre
- HomePod’s ‘Personalized voices’ will recognise who’s talking to it and use their Apple ID, meaning we can start using our HomePod for adding reminders, sending messages, etc. rather than just playing music. And if we do play music, it’ll use our individual libraries, rather than just being attached to one
- It’s finally getting a calculator!
- The on-watch App Store looks like the first steps towards making the watch a stand-alone device, a bit like when the iPhone began to decouple from iTunes. It’s funny that they’ve done the pairing of Apple Watch and iPhone so well that I don’t want to decouple as it feels like the right way to do it
- More granular weather information with new wind and rain complications are a nice surprise
- No built-in sleep tracking app. I was really hoping for a simple sleep tracker, a bit like their Breathe app for meditation
Nice that they’ve separated the iPad’s operating system from the iPhone, though they’ll always share a lot of the same features. The changes on iPad look great, but I haven’t used an iPad for years so I’m not really all that well positioned to comment.
- Standalone Apple Music app (finally!)
- Sidecar looks interesting. That, together with Apple Pencil, might be a compelling reason to buy an iPad again!
- They’ve kept on with the performance thing which is great
- Face ID will be 30% faster
- Dark Mode!
- Three-finger swipe to the left to undo! No more ridiculous device shaking
- Three-finger pinch/spread to copy/paste – pasting has always been fiddly
- QuickPath native swipe-typing will be nice. I tried this on 3rd party keyboards a few years ago and it wasn’t brilliant, so hopefully the 1st party version will be slicker
- Reminders is getting a long-overdue revamp! Now this is exciting! I’m interested to see how it works in more detail, but, from a high-level, natural language processing looks great and the ‘groups’ or sub-tasks look useful
- Mail has better text formatting. Interesting but not that big a deal for me as I generally only use Mail on my iPhone for very quick replies
- Maps now has favourites and collections to keep places of interest nicely organised. I hope that means sending friends interesting places to visit will be easier
- Look Around (basically Google’s Street View) has been something Maps has been sorely lacking
- Sign in with Apple looks good, especially the random email addresses you can manage that forward to your real address
- Search in Messages will be very useful
- Document Scanner in Files could be more convenient than the already-great scanner in Notes; hopefully it’ll come with its own Control Centre icon
- Not sure how fonts will work. Looks like they have to be downloaded through the App Store. What about uploading files for fonts I already own?
- Separate emoji and globe keys. I switch language (English and Spanish) a lot and it has always bugged me that the emoji keyboard was behind the same button
- Redesigned volume control – no more massive overlay when you adjust the volume that takes a couple of seconds to disappear
- Preview email messages, web links, and more by pressing and holding, and a long press to access app shortcuts. Are they getting rid of 3D Touch?
- Choose wi-fi network from Control Centre
- Personal hotspot is going to connect automatically if no known wi-fi network is found