Every June (or so) Apple gives developers the world over an in-depth, technical look at the changes coming to iOS later in the year. The event sometimes features product updates, but the core of the week is deep dives and education of developers. With iOS directly impacting the way millions of users work and communicate, the show has become as much a feature of the consumer tech calendar as the developer on, and this week is no exception.
All in on AR
Apple’s ARKit was a huge boost to developers who wanted to bring digital things to the real world. This WWDC Keynote, Adobe CTO Abhay Parasnis demonstrated the latest updates to iOS’ AR toolsets, including WYSIWYG editing in AR, a sneak peek of which will be coming to developers later today. Also featured by Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi was a new app called Measure, which measures (obviously) the dimensions of objects in real space. Interior designers rejoice!
All of this was wrapped up in ARKit 2, which includes improved facial tracking (sorry, Snapchat), realistic rendering, 3D object detection, and both persistent and shared experiences where two users can see the same AR objects.
Other iOS Refinements
Like every WWDC for the past decade or so, this year’s keynote also featured highlights of iOS 12’s upcoming features. Siri is getting a much-needed boost, with contextual suggestions and app shortcuts. Considering Siri has been leapfrogged by Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, these improvements are extremely welcome.
Stock apps have been rebuilt, and in a big improvement in CarPlay, third-party navigation apps will finally be supported, a move which will please drivers who prefer Waze or Google Maps to Apple’s stock map app.
Taking advantage of the new improvements in ARKit, iOS 12 will also feature better, additional Animoji, as well as Bitmoji-competitor “Memoji,” designed to represent users. There’s also up to 32 person (!) group FaceTime calls. It’s no doubt FaceTime changed the way people communicate, from traveling parents talking with kids, to keeping up with everyone.
One criticism leveraged at Apple has been mobile addiction and what they’re doing to combat it. While Do Not Disturb and Driving Mode have helped, iOS 12 introduces a swathe of both self-control and parental control features.
Again on stage, Federighi said iOS 12 would introduce a “comprehensive set of built-in features to help you limit distraction, focus, and understand how you’re spending your time.”
Users will be able to check in and see what apps send the most notifications and make decisions about how much time they want to spend on your device each day. This control comes in the form of App Limits — if there’s an app where a user wants to spend less time, they can set limits. After you’re done, they’re “locked” out (can be bypassed)
The Screen Time functionality gives insight and control into how users spend time on the iPhone. Reports, including a weekly activity summary that shows how the phone expects to be used. The longest continuous session, what sorts of apps are being used, after bedtime use, and how often the phone is picked up are all measured to give users a full picture on how their phone fits into their lives, and take corrective measures if desired.
“We want to give you control over how many notifications you receive,” said Federighi, “Right from the lock screen, you can send future notifications from that app to Notification Center, bypassing the lock screen, or turn them off altogether.” iOS 12 will also add a “Do Not Disturb during bedtime” feature, where all you see is the clock and no notifications, so waking up and checking the clock won’t show a tempting flash sale offer email from your favorite retailer, just the time.
All those features also make for handy parental controls too, another thing Apple has faced criticism for in recent years. With iOS 12’s new parental controls, parents can lock out apps by category or individual app, so they can always give access to the phone, or education apps but limit access to social networking, or “age appropriate” apps and websites if they so desire. Using Family Share, the settings work across iPhone and iPad.
If kids think they can be sneaky, parents can also opt to get notified of what their children have been up to, on a per-app basis, from their own device. Parents can also lock kids out entirely at bedtime. Sorry, kids and teens!
The Week to Come
The iOS portion of the keynote may be over, but WWDC is just getting started. There will be updates to Apple TV, Apple Watch, MacOS (including data privacy) and hardware updates if the rumors are to be believed.
As well as the keynote speech and announcements today, there are a series of events, workshops, and developer-focused networking and educational opportunities run by Apple all week, including developer workshops and training sessions, networking events and so on. You can check out the full official schedule on the official WWDC page.
Apple has also posted a list of third-party sponsored WWDC-companion events on the Beyond WWDC page of its developer website.
WWDC is Apple’s annual developer-focused event and features developer workshops, training, parties and networking events, but starts with a keynote speech announcing major updates to the software running on the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and other devices. WWDC runs from 4-8 June 2018, in San Jose at the McEnery Convention Center.
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