Apple officially opened the WWDC 2018 developer conference with a keynote, or Apple Special Event as they call it. No hardware news there, but all the more new software announcements. Despite the focus on improvements in iOS 12, there was something to tell and certainly the new Mac OS version called Mojave brings some nice productivity improvements for users. It was not the most exciting WWDC ever, but we knew that before it started. Fortunately, the opening video – voiced by Stephen Fry as if it were a nature documentary – was great.
Apple had already said: there are few really new features in iOS 12, because the performance is what counts, said Craig Federighi on stage. Apps should start 40 to 50 percent faster, the keyboard no longer lingers and on older devices the camera should be up to 70 percent faster than it is today. Those are fine figures, especially because Apple says that it mainly works on speed if a lot happens at the same time. So it should not be better if you are only doing that one thing.
Screen Time is a quality of life function that should help you get a better idea of how long your phone is doing, but also how much time you spent on certain apps. This way you can immediately see how many social media or games you eat out of time, but also, for example, which app will give you the most notifications. That should help bring more peace to your head, because you can recognize the biggest culprits.
You can also set a time limit on certain apps, which is useful if you as a parent want to set limits for your children, but also want to temper your own use in a friendly way. You can just ask for more time with an app when it’s on, but you’ve been warned in any case.
Notifications and Facetime groups
A new and most welcome feature is grouping notifications on your home screen. So you do not have to scroll minutes if the Slack is exploded in the office with a call that does not end, or your thousand notifications from Twitter if one of your posts has gone viral. You now get a stack, which shows how much is under the last notification.
The Animoji are expanded with a number of new beast, including a T-Rex and tiger, but more fun are the Memoji: these are a kind of Mii like you know from Nintendo and you can adjust them yourself until they look like you. Or not, of course. The photo app gets effects that you get as a suggestion, as Google Photos does. Facetime becomes a group app: you can now use Facetimen with 32 people at the same time, if you want to. You should not want that, but you can. But even with several people it is clear who is talking about it, because his image becomes larger than the rest, so that you always know who is speaking.
Siri will play a bigger role because it can now also appeal to other developers. You can also connect to each other with the new Shortcuts app. You can link a separate Siri question to a number of actions, such as Google and Amazon that are also doing with their smart assistants.
Apple Watch and Apple TV
We are already on Watch OS 5 again, and it is slowly but surely getting better there. By far the best thing that Apple introduced was Walkie Talkie. That is a simple app that lets you talk to people as if you have a walkie-talkie in your hands. After one authentication, you can then talk to people at the touch of a button. It works on WiFi and 4G, so now your friend can pretend that he is Kit and talk back.
Also nice: the Apple Podcast app finally comes to Apple Watch, and you can get more information on your watch face. For athletes there is good news, because there is now an automatic workout detection on the watch, so even if you forget to mention that you are going to do something you will get the question whether you are exercising and if necessary afterwards the ‘ credit ‘from what you have done.
There was little news for Apple’s box under the TV. TV OS will support HDR and Dolby Atmos for the Apple TV 4K, but that was there. In addition, there will be a new system to automatically log in to all the apps of your TV provider, but that is now only offered to one provider in the US. There will also be a new aerial, shot by astronauts from the International Space Station.
Mac OS Mojave
Mac OS Mojave is a major update of the operating system of the Mac. The presentation started with revealing Dark Mode. In it, as you would expect, all windows and backgrounds are dark instead of light. That is perfect if you work a lot with photos and videos, but as more people have discovered in recent years, it is also a bit calmer on the eyes. Especially the developers on site were very happy with Apple’s XCode in dark mode.
Stacks are another innovation that will help people with overcrowded desktops. You can sort the files on that desktop into stacks, be it on type of file when it is placed on the desktop and you can easily select and even scroll through them within the stacks. You also get fast actions that you can perform when you select one or more files. If you do something often (for example, adding a watermark or merging things) you will immediately see and execute that action with one click.
Quicklook has also been extended: you can now easily perform actions from that window in addition to quickly viewing files. The same applies to taking screenshots, where you can now capture video from a website or anywhere else on the screen. Handy! The Home app also comes to the Mac, so you can easily control your devices that you control with HomeKit from your desktop.
Privacy and App Store
Privacy is also a big good for Apple, and the company also announced that Mac OS from Mojave access to just about all sensitive information on your computer automatically blocks, including access to your camera and microphone. Safari will put an end to tracking cookies by always showing you as someone trying to drop, so you can disable them. Even fingerprinting is thwarted by the fact that Apple is going to show the configuration of each Mac as the same to data companies from Safari, so that every Mac with Mojave looks exactly the same as any other Mac with Mojave. Nice.
The Mac App Store also gets some extra attention this year. The Store is completely renewed in terms of interface and apps are categorized as create, work, play and develop. It is very similar to what you see in the iOS App store, but for desktop. There will be a separate API for evaluating apps, making it easier for users.
Mac OS and iOS together?
The question of whether Apple is planning to join iOS and Mac OS is a lot in the last couple of years. Craig Federighi gave a clear answer: no. That will not happen. Apple is working to make it easier for iOS apps to work on the Mac without all the manual work that is still involved. As a test they have first converted a number of apps themselves, but in the coming years it will only be easier to get a nice iOS app on the Mac.
When that is finished we hear, but for now, there are again some nice improvements that come to the different versions of Apple’s operating systems. The biggest disappointment in my opinion is not the lack of new hardware, but especially that Apple has said nothing about the opening up the NFC chip in the iPhones . Maybe it will be in the course of the week …