4th June 2019 andy.levis

Soft Pauer’s Review of Apple’s WWDC 2019

Arguably Apple’s biggest event of 2019 happened last night, most Media outlets will just report that iOS 13 will be better at security, however when you scratch the surface the annual developers conference is where Apple showcases a lot of their work over the last 12 months and offers pointers to future changes in their lineup and operating system.

They are always pretty informative from a user’s perspective they are often the best way of seeing how new features will work in the next few months, from a Developers perspective is always a good way of seeing what’s in the pipeline to give your app the competitive edge.

The start is usually a thank you to the developers who are attending the event, this introduction was used this time as a summary of their previous keynote in March, and this time they gave a preview of “For All Mankind”, a TV show which they are planning to launch with the updated TV app in autumn. Apple are pitching themselves as a better quality version of Netflix. They also showcased the redesigned homescreen on the tvOS with family focussed recommendations for TV and music.

Apple arcade was also mentioned, and the main highlight of this is the fact you can use an Xbox or PlayStation controller whilst using apple arcade, This may encourage some headline game developers to bring their games to Apple arcade.

The only hardware announced was new Mac Pro, starting at £5999 it seems competitively priced in its rarified market but with a 28 cores potential it will get a lot more expensive.

Apple did use the keynote as an opportunity to mention iOS take up compared to Android, iOS12 take up is at 85% compared to Android 9’s 10%. This can always be taken with a pinch of salt, ultimately more people owning Apple devices keep their systems updated where as Android across all their manufacturers are less proactive at this, this does cause security issues and issues when maintaining your Android apps.

The watchOS was the next thing to be showcased with new watch faces, hourly chimes and the watch app store system will now be standalone. This should lead to some interesting changes to the next version of the Watch and should encourage people to develop more standalone quick action watch apps. I will go into more detail about the changes from a developers perspective below, but changes in Apples frameworks will mean the Watch apps are quite easy to create instead of the layered development that occurs at the minute.

A revised Health app will using machine learning for a redesigned summary page, so you can monitor the progress of your Health and for women, a menstrual cycle app. Ultimately the Apple focus on health is admirable and unabated.

As predicted Apple are moving away from iTunes, its history stemmed back for 18 years and although it was a groundbreaking product back in 2001 (when Steve Jobs announced it) the media Apple sells is no longer just music, it’s fair to assume that games, movies and TV shows are more profitable than the streaming dominated music industry these days. So ultimately it’s no surprise.

The iPad is going to see some significant changes, notably its own OS system and the ability to use it as a  second display for Mac.The work features continue to be added, split screens, mini keyboards, mini pencil components, ultimately Apple are making the iPad are very work focused machine.

iOS updates include redesigned maps, reminders and notes. However, one aspect Soft Pauer noticed is that all Macs built before 2012 can be accessed with Voice control.  A better version of Siri combined with voice control,makes your Mac a smart speaker.

The good news for users and developers kept coming with sign in with Apple ID, random email generator for subscriptions, a new Mac operating system which will allow iPad apps and Mac apps to be able to be used across devices. Audio sharing, Airpod announcing iMessage / WhatsApp messages, yes its cross platform.

Improved photos apps including improved portrait lighting, the app will make photo editing more usable and this can also apply to video,the machine learning removes duplicates and organize them into days / months / years.

Messages will now take your Apple ID details and provide that when you message someone on iMessage, pointing towards an address book/ contacts app that updates itself.

Siri’s improvements continued, the Siri shortcuts has developed significantly since Workflow in iOS 11, the version in iOS 13 will suggest automations and does feel like a rival to IFTTT.

Machine learning is mentioned above but Apple are integrating it into Maps, Notes and Photos. Siri’s voice is now longer an actor, it’s a machine generated voice which will answer difficult questions more naturally, Apple have continued to invest in Siri in order to regain the ground they lost to Amazon and Google.

Pointing to their future strategies Apple announced a reality kit to be built into their AR kit.

This was shown with Minecraft AR which allows virtual worlds to be created in the AR game, ie your minecraft world in created what seems like real life! This points to AR glasses or a headset in the pipeline, Apple have kept pushing AR kit, so a product launch must be on the horizon as it does feel unnatural to constantly use your phone to view AR.

Mainly for native coders Apple casually dropped in that there are 450k apps using Swift, The most notable change is a new framework called SwiftUI, they say this makes code really easy to write, and you can easily add dark mode. It feels / looks like its a step towards a WordPress style components builder.

The VScode feature where you see your app/site in the preview and can see live tests in production is coming to Xcode, this combined with built in inspectors, will make SwiftUI even more accessible to new Developers around the world. An Apple watch app was previously a complicated layered process, now it can be created in SwiftUI and can be as simple as creating a WordPress site.

Ultimately we can talk about winners and losers; Google’s flaws in OS are highlighted but Siri will now integrate with Waze so it’s not all bad. Amazon Alexa is being nudged with Apple making all Mac’s smart speakers but Amazon Prime Video is being integrated into tvOS. The iPad becoming more work focused its pushing Microsoft but the Minecraft AR feature allowed them to showcase their most innovative work

The new features are endless and I have missed some out, some were expected and overdue, and some were a genuine surprise. Apple continues its relentless move towards lightening people’s wallets, making people more healthy, and making people’s relationship with tech more seamless.