All the New Announcements From the Apple WWDC 2018

June 4, 2018

3:58 pm

CEO Tim Cook just took the stage in San Jose for the Keynote Address at the 2018 WWDC from Apple. WWDC, nominally a chance for developers (from over 70 countries) to learn what operating system updates to expect from the company, presented a schedule packed with new features.

The App Store turns ten next month, and WWDC 2018 is this year’s check-in on the world-changing store, which reels in 500 million visitors a week, as well as other iOS 12 updates, and the latest for WatchOS, TVOS, MacOS, and all the new inter-device updates.

Here’s a fast rundown on the latest news from the world of Apple tech software, including what each announcement or feature is and what it means for developers (and consumers) everywhere.

iOS 12

Like every iOS update, iOS 12 is a free software upgrade that will bring new features to every Apple device that can support it. In this case, that’s all the same devices that supported iOS 11 — a first for Apple.

Expect it to roll out quickly, as half of Apple customers updated to iOS 11 within seven weeks. Let’s break down the new features into their own categories.

Augmented Reality Updates

What is it? 

AR is a transformational technology that Apple highlighted through an iPhone 8 demo last year, and now they have additional software support that they hope will spread AR experiences across all Apple device users: A new file format.

What will it do?

USDZ is an optimized AR file format that can be used in Safari and sharing in messages and email, allowing AR files to be shared more freely. Also, new immersive design tools will allow Adobe users to see changes in real time as they edit.

With it, you’ll be able to zoom in and pan across animated 3D images, or stick a 3D image of your favorite guitar into the room you’re sitting in at the moment.

The Measure App

What is it? 

A new app designed to help measure surfaces, using AR technology.

What will it do?

In the WWDC event, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, used this app to measure an old, sticker-bedecked suitcase, tapping on corners of the case through his phone in order to drag and drop AR lines. The Measure app will auto-detect picture frames, measuring them as well.

ARKit 2 and Shared Experiences

What is it? 

AR images are great and all, but if you and a friend can’t interact with the same AR world at the same time, it’s just a gimmick. With iOS 12’s new ARKit 2 features aimed at shared experiences, you’ll do just that.

What will it do?

The new multi-user support for 3D object detection tech recognizes physical real-world objects — the demo uses a LEGO model — and builds an entire world with it, allowing a second friend to see the same game at the same time. Users will be able to interact together in an AR realm.

Photo Search

What is it? 

Photo search is improved in iOS 12 with search suggestions, highlighting key moments, locations, or types of events.

Sharing suggestions is another new feature: It offers up shared photo albums from friends who might have been at the same event, giving both you and your friend the chance to save a full set of the photos from your time together.

What will it do?

The search refinements will finally open up your access to that 10,000-strong photo collection you never sift through.

Siri Shortcuts

What is it? 

The new updates to Apple’s voice assistant center around the concept of “shortcuts” — a term Apple’s using to describe their efforts to make Siri even more helpful in your daily life. Shortcuts will be an entire app on your phone.

What will it do?

Tap an “add to Siri” button on an integrated app, record a custom phrase into the phone, and you’ll set a shortcut with your assistant. Then, repeating that one short custom phrase will trigger Siri to interact with your app for you. Record “travel plans” before a trip, and you’ll be able to trigger Siri to, say, pull up your plane tickets.

Siri also suggests actions on the iOS 12 search bar itself, suggesting shortcuts like a reminder to you to text a friend that you’re running late or suggesting you mute your phone when Siri notices you’re at the theater. Simple drag-and-drop steps in the shortcuts interface allow you to set up what shortcuts you find the most useful.

New Apps — News, Apple Books, and Car Play

What is it? 

Apple always boasts a slew of new apps, and 2018 is no different.

What are they?

The News app has a new sidebar. The Stocks app is redesigned, with spark lines that chart stock performance across the day and a new, curated News sidebar within the Stocks app. Voice Memos is rebuilt as well, coming to the iPad for the first time and syncing across your devices through iCloud.

iOS 12 comes with a new name and design for iBooks: It’s now Apple Books. You can pick up reading where you left off across devices. Car Play now supports third-party navigation apps as well.

Digital Wellness Features

What are they? 

Do Not Disturb — set this feature, and you won’t be bothered by any late-night texts, Slack chats, or notifications.

Instant Tuning — tap and hold in an app in order to pull up a new feature in iOS 12: A bar that allows you to determine how much data you want to share with that app, or whether you want to revoke access it already has.

Reports — each week will offer a summary of your activity on your iPhone or iPad. How long you’re on your phone, the time you spend on each app, how often per hour you check your phone, and which apps are sending you the most notifications.

What will it do?

These digital well-being features are aimed at helping Apple users monitor whether they’re spending too much time on their devices or not properly securing data.

You can use the info from Reports to change whatever you’d like, setting your own limit on individual apps, like Instagram. You’ll be able to override the limit if you really need to, but Apple’s nudging you to spend your time better.

Memoji

What is it? 

You know how you can create a personalized emoji? Now you can do that, but with an animoji that can mimic your facial movements.

You’ll also gain the ability to make animojis stick out their tongues, give yourself a filter like “Comic Book,” or drop your Memoji directly on to your face in an iMessage photo. The feature supports religious headwear from hijabs to turbans as well.

What will it do?

You can now give yourself a red mohawk and stick our your tongue, in animated form. Nuff said.

Facetime — Up to 32 People at a Time

What is it? 

You can now Facetime groups of up to 32 people at a time, allowing individuals to jump in or drop out at any time during the call. People who speak will automatically grow larger within the app. You’ll have access to animoji with the app, too, allowing you to Facetime as a comic book koala, should you so wish.

What will it do?

This feature is great for classrooms or for large work projects, letting everyone communicate as a team easily and efficiently.

WatchOS 5

Number one in customer satisfaction every year since its 2015 launch, the Apple Watch is a big part of Apple’s hardware array. Their WatchOS 5 updates include plenty of tweaks aimed at better connectivity and accuracy.

Challenges is a new feature in the Activity app that allows competitive users to match times against their friends. Exercise credit has been rejiggered for accuracy: Hiking can now be better measured. And your watch will now offer to track a workout if it sense you might be starting one, retroactively adding your workout stats if you allow it.

And Siri shortcuts are available in WatchOS 5 as well. In addition, you can now skip the “Hey Siri” prefix to asking a question: Just raise your wrist and start talking. Here’s a look at more of the largest updates:

Walkie Talkie

What is it? 

This Watch app offers a simple, watch-to-watch connection with a friend. Once activated, Walkie Talkie allows users to talk to each other, adding a haptic touch that makes the watch buzz when picking up an incoming message.

What will it do?

This simple communication mode cuts out all the animoji-style frills, making it a great way to stay in touch with a coworker or friend when at a huge event that’s easy to get lost in, or even just to call your kids in to dinner.

Podcasts on Apple Watch

What is it? 

The Podcast app is now on Apple Watch through the new OS.

What will it do?

Apps can play in the background now, letting the new podcast app play even as you’re using the watch actively.

tvOS — Audio and App Updates

What is it? 

4K HD is here, and the room-filling Dolby Atmos sound is here to match it. Apple TV is the only device that’s certified for the 3D-space filling audio.

The Apple TV app also offers a range of live sports and live news providers, bringing over 100 video channels to Apple TV for the first time. But perhaps the biggest update is in how easily users can sign in:

Zero Sign-On

What is it? 

Single Sign-On debuted last year, and Apple’s one-upping themselves now. If you’re logged into your Apple account, you won’t need to sign-on to any of the TV providers you use through your account: Pay TV providers will auto-detect that you use their broadband and will sign you into it.

What will it do?

The end goal is cut down on the friction that bugs TV users.

MacOS Mojave

What is it? 

MacOS updates have been free since 2013, and the WWDC 2018 saved Apple’s new MacOS update for last: MacOS Mojave.

What will it do?

Dark mode is available on Macs now. The sidebar, background, and even window content can be darkened, helping those working on documents in a dark environment or when editing sensitive pictures. Source code and interface builders — pictured above — look great too. File shortcuts in Quick Look allow you to easily add digital signatures or watermarks to your PDFs.

But the biggest update: Desktop stacks.

Desktop Stacks

What is it? 

Mojave’s new desktop automatically arranges content into stacks — a right-hand sidebar that runs vertically down the desktop — and seperates each stack by factors like by date or type of content. Users can scrub across each stack to rotate through the files it holds, and drag-and-drop each file to quickly access it.

What will it do?

This great new feature for Mojave is an indication that Apple knows everyone could stand to cut down on their desktop clutter. It’s an intuitive update that should help do just that.

The Screenshot HUD

What is it? 

Screenshots are finally more than just a capture of your entire Mac screen: When you take a screenshot with the updated MacOS, you’ll open up a new HUD at the bottom of the screen that will allow you to capture just a portion of the screen, or even record a video clip.

What will it do?

Gone are the days when you needed to comb through your open tabs to ensure you didn’t accidentally share any sensitive information on your screen. And now you’ll be able to create quick video clips faster than ever, so your social media game should improve in leaps and bounds.

Continuity Camera

What is it? 

This cross-device MacOS feature allows you to snap an image with your phone and immediately drop it into a file on your Mac.

What will it do?

With better, faster integration between devices, you’ll be able to include more photos in emails that can better communicate and clarify what you’re trying to get across.

UiKit Integration

What is it? 

Certain iOS apps will be available on the MacOS now: News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home will be available on Mojave. It’s an integration that Craig Federighi prefaced by explaining that they’re not merging iOS with MacOS: They just want to get Mac users some of the benefits of the newly updated iOS apps.

MacOS Security and Privacy

What is it? 

Apple is leaning into the security value with a raft of new protections on its apps. Apps will alert you before using your data, and Mojave extends this to your camera and other features on your desktop device.

Starting this year, MacOS is also shutting down cookies on websites, forcing each site to give you the same security alert that its apps already do. Apple is also sharing less device-specific information with third parties.

What will it do?

If you’re on a Mac, Facebook won’t be able to auto-access your web history anymore.

This update is simple, but is going to dramatically change the online media landscape: Advertisers and their media partners will likely lose out on a swathe of information that they rely on for monetization. Users, however, will have more control over their data than ever.

Read more about what Apple is up to on TechCo

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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