Apple WWDC 2020 is all about the future, as with its previous editions. Although this annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) targets mainly tech engineers and developers, consumers will also get a glimpse on software changes and upgrade that'll improve user experience on Apple products.
Yeap, this online-only keynote didn't announce any new products. But it did introduce the game-changing Apple Silicon. Let's get down to what's notable then.
The core focus of WWDC is on Apple's various operating systems for its devices. For the upcoming iOS 14 update, iPhone users can look forward to customising the Home Screen with widgets, downloading suitable apps using App Clips, and organise apps with the App Library.
Widgets pinned in different sizes on Home Screen
Users can create a Smart Stack of widgets which uses on-device intelligence. As a result, Home Screen pages display desired widgets based on time, location, and activity that they've downloaded.
Discover and use new apps with App Clips
Think of it as a sample or a trailer. App Clips are associated with a particular product or business and load within seconds to complete a specific task, such as renting a scooter, purchasing a coffee, or filling a parking meter. Hence, the apps will appear as small pop-ups suggestions recommending users to download. These can be triggered via NFC (Apple Pay/EZ-link tech) but they can also be prompted by text or QR code.
You won’t need to download the full app to gain access on what it offers, and still be able to make in-app purchases through it via Apple Pay. It's great for those who don’t want to clutter their phones with more apps.
Travel often? This dedicated translation function offers a quick and natural translation of voice and text among 11 different languages. On-device mode allows users to experience the features of the app offline too.
Unlock and start your car with digital car keys
Use your iPhone or Apple Watch® to unlock and start your car with NFC technology. If you have a BMW 5 Series now, that is. Disabling access is easy too. It's all through iCloud® if you happen to lose your Apple device.
AirPods: Surround sound and auto-switching between Apple devices
AirPods gain the ability to seamlessly switch between Apple devices with automatic device switching. Also, immerse in a theatre-like experience on AirPods Pro with spatial audio via dynamic head tracking. By applying directional audio filters, and subtly adjusting the frequencies each ear receives, sounds can be placed virtually anywhere in a space. All-around sound indeed.
Besides offering most of the same features (like widgets and translate app) rolled out on iOS 14, iPadOS 14 will introduce a new sidebar that makes navigating apps easier without having to touch the screen and a redesigned search on iPad which mirrors Spotlight on macOS.
The Apple Pencil upgrades beyond note-taking and drawing. Through Scribble, users to write in any text field—where it will automatically be converted to typed text—making actions like replying to an iMessage or searching in Safari fast and easy.
Then there are shape and text recognition. Even almost illegible or errant lines like a wobbly arrow can be fixed into proper shapes on handwritten notes. On the latter, Smart Selection uses on-device machine learning to distinguish handwriting from drawings, so handwritten text can easily be selected, cut, and pasted into another document as typed text.
Apple's smartwatch does more than telling the time and being a trusty e-wallet. It can finally track your sleeping patterns and adds a handwashing health feature. Useful in the keeping COVID-19 at bay.
More exercises are getting their own dedicated tracking algorithm. Mainly Core Training, Dance, Functional Strength Training, and Cooldown. Dance, for example, uses advanced sensor fusion that accurately captures and combines data from the heart rate sensor and inputs from both accelerometer and gyroscope. This accounts for the unique challenges of measuring different body-to-arm motions typical with popular exercise dance styles such as cardio dance and hip-hop.
Also, its corresponding Activity app on the iPhone redesigned and streamlined to become Fitness on iOS 14.
How do you know you're actually in deep sleep? Through the detection of micro-movements from the watch’s accelerometer, which signals respiration during sleep, Apple Watch intelligently captures the wearer's sleeping patterns and how much sleep they get each night.
In the morning, the wearer will see a visualisation of their previous night’s sleep, including periods of wake and sleep. They will also see a chart showing their weekly sleep trend. In Sleep Mode, Apple Watch turns on 'Do Not Disturb' and automatically darkens the screen overnight.
Washing hands properly for at least 20 seconds can help prevent the spread of illness. A first on a wearable tech device, Apple Watch uses the motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning to automatically detect handwashing motions and sounds. It then initiates a 20-second countdown timer, and if the user finishes early, they will be prompted to keep washing.
The Health app on the iPhone will reflect handwashing frequency and duration, as well as information on the importance of handwashing.
Mac OS Big Sur
Like Mojave and Catalina, the upcoming Mac OS update will also be adopting its title from another California locale Big Sur. Expect huge improvements to key apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps. Windows will use depth, shading, and translucency to convey a hierarchy, which will come to both light and dark modes.
The customisable menu bar features an all-new Control Center adopted from iOS, delivering quick access to controls from the desktop. This updated Notification Center includes more interactive notifications and redesigned widgets that come in different sizes, providing users with more relevant information at a glance. Also, Finder revamps with a new sidebar and toolbar.
An expanded Safari web browser
Increase productivity with various upgrades that'll make gathering information on Safari a cinch. Redesigned Tabs allows speedy navigation and allowing more tabs onscreen. By displaying favicons on default to easily identify open tabs, users can have a quick preview of a page by simply hovering over the tab.
Stumbled upon a webpage that requires translation? With built-in translation, Safari can detect and translate entire webpages from seven languages with just a click. Users can further personalise their experience with improved support for extensions, and the Mac App Store makes it easy to discover and download great Safari extensions with a new category that includes editorial spotlights and top charts.
A new Privacy Report function delivers added visibility into how Safari protects browsing activity across the web. Users can choose when and which websites a Safari extension can work with. Included tools like data breach password monitoring never reveal your password information—not even to Apple.
Elsewhere in the Mac App Store, user can understand the privacy practices of apps before downloading them. For example, the types of data the apps might collect—such as usage, contact information, or location—and if third parties will obtain these data for tracking.
The biggest news at this year's WWDC has to be the Apple Silicon. While already used by iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch platforms as well as HomePod and Apple TV, the system-on-chip (SoC) will extend to cover Apple's entire suite of computing products. This means Apple will transition from Intel processors to ARM-based, Apple-designed processors for the Macintosh computers too.
The first Mac to use an Apple chipset will release before the end of 2020, while the transition for the full device lineup will take two years, said Apple CEO Tim Cook. But the company is still pledging to support Intel-powered machines with its future software upgrades for years. This transition will also establish a common architecture across all Apple products, making it easier for developers to write and optimise their apps for its entire ecosystem.
A demo on the keynote shows by using Apple's own custom hardware, they are able to run iPhone and iPad apps on the Mac without any modifications. By the looks of it, this impact is a huge one.
To help developers get started with Apple silicon, Apple is launching the Universal App Quick Start Program. This provides them access to documentation, forums support, beta versions of macOS Big Sur and Xcode® 12, and the limited use of a Developer Transition Kit (DTK), a Mac development system based on Apple’s A12Z Bionic System on a Chip (SoC).
All images are provided by Apple.