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So many apps.
APPS EVERYWHERE

Apple just updated all its operating systems and none of its hardware

Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

At the San Jose Convention Center in California June 4, Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote address from a number of executives. The company outlined updates to all its major software operating systems, which will be available for developers starting today, and for users in the autumn.

Here’s a quick rundown of all the major software updates Apple announced:

iOS 12

AR everywhere. Apple partnered with Pixar to create a new type of file format (catchingly called USDZ) that allows developers to put three-dimensional content into any app. Apple showed off AR content in a news app, as well as the ability to customize a guitar on Fender’s website, which can then be manipulated in real life. Updates to the AR framework Apple introduced last year, called ARKit, lets developers build games and other experiences in augmented reality that multiple users can interact with at the same time.

Measure app. Using the new AR functionality, Apple built an app that can measure objects in the real world. No need to hunt for that tape measure anymore.

Siri updates. You can now create custom phrases for Siri to do automatically things when said. For example, you could add the phrase “I lost my keys,” which you could set to activate the Tile on your keychain. Siri will also have preemptive suggestions based on how you use certain apps in the future. For instance, if you book tickets to a movie, it’ll ask if you want to turn on Do Not Disturb while you’re there, or if it’s a friend’s birthday, it’ll ask if you want to call them that day. If you’re running late, it’ll suggest you text the meeting leader, and will even propose as message to send them. These are called Shortcuts, and you can build your own for certain apps, or download pre-made ones from the new Shortcuts app gallery.

Grouped notifications. No longer will you be overwhelmed by dozens of messages from a single app on your lock screen. iOS 12 will now group all notifications from a single app into one stack, making your home screen more manageable when you can’t get to that massive text thread from your high school friends.

New “digital health” apps. Apple introduced a suite of apps that are meant to help users manage how much time they spend with those expensive devices Apple has sold them. There’s a new “do not disturb” function, which cuts off notifications and can be set for the length of meetings in your calendar, or overnight.

iOS will now have a dashboard showing you which apps send you the most notifications, how to curtail them, and which apps are taking up your time. You can also limit how much time you can spend on any app. The feature is synced across all your Apple devices, so there’s no cheating by switching from your iPad to your iPhone.

Parents can also track the activity of their children, and set allowances for how much time kids are allowed to spend with a specific app, or type of app. They’ll also be able to set downtimes for when they don’t want their kids to use their phones, such as past bedtime.

New Animoji. Apple introduced some new emoji to its augmented-reality “Animoji” emoji that users can send to others, including a ghost, a tiger, and a dinosaur. It also introduced “Memoji,” where users can create avatars of themselves to use in messages, much like Samsung introduced earlier this year, or Snap has had for years with Bitmoji.

Group FaceTime. You can now video chat with up to 32 people at once on FaceTime, and even add effects and Memoji to your feeds, much like a few other popular apps on the App Store. (This is pretty poor timing for live-video social media app Houseparty, which introduced its new desktop app during the keynote.)

Minor app updates. Apple refreshed its Stocks app, adding after-hours trading prices, and will bring the app, along with its voice memos app, to the iPad. It also rebranded iBooks to Apple Books, which received a design refresh. CarPlay, the iOS sync-up for modern cars, now supports mapping apps other than Apple Maps.

Apple also introduced minor updates to its Photos app, including the ability to share photo albums based on facial recognition. The app will suggest sharing new photos taken with the people in them, if the user has already tagged them in other photos.

Performance updates. Apple said its new operating system can launch apps twice as quickly when the phone is under a heavy load, and open to the camera from the lock screen 70% quicker than on iOS 11.

macOS Mojave

Apple’s next iteration of its computer operating software is named after the desert in southern California, away from the mountains of NorCal whose names have graced the last four versions. Here’s a few of the updates announced:

Dark mode. Much like Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and other apps, Apple is introducing a dark mode to macOS, pretty much turning every piece of the interface that’s usually white appears into shades of grey or black. It’s a bit easier on the eyes, and looks pretty great.

Stacks. You can now organize the types of content of your desktop into stacks, so no more messy desktops.

Updates to Finder and Quick Look. You can now see the full metadata of a file from the Finder window, and macOS will offer suggestions on what to do with selected files (like print, make a PDF, etc). You can also interact with files from Quick Look—pressing space bar on a PDF will now let you mark it up or add a signature, and you can trim a video right from the finder window, all without actually opening the file.

Screenshot videos. A new screenshot function allows users to capture animations on the web, not just still images. Making GIFs of the web just got easier.

Continuity. Using Apple’s Continuity technology, where Apple products logged into the same account can access the same content on shared apps, users can now take a photo on their phone and have it automatically appear in a presentation or other piece of software they’re working on.

New apps. Many popular iOS apps are coming to the Mac with Mojave, including News, voice memos, stocks, and Home, Apple’s home-automation hub. The Mac App Store will also get a refresh that makes it look more like the redesigned iOS App Store launched last year.

Privacy. In a seemingly direct attack on advertisers that track users across the web like Facebook, Apple introduced new privacy software that will allow users to completely block tracking cookies, and companies that track computers based on unique identifiers.

Easily ported apps. Apple plans to let developers easily convert their iOS apps to the Mac in 2019. This year, it’s been testing this ability on its own apps, porting over the News, Stocks, voice memos, and Home apps.

watchOS 5

Apple introduced some minor updates to the software on the Apple Watch. Here’s what was introduced:

New workouts. Apple introduced more workout types for the watch, including yoga and hiking, as well as updates to the running workout, including pace alerts and cadence measuring. The watch will now also detect when you start and finish runs, in case you forget to tell your watch.

Walkie-talkie mode. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like—you can now chat to friends on your watch as you would on a walkie-talking, pushing a button to contact them.

No more “Hey Siri.” To ask Siri questions, just raise your wrist and start talking.

Other updates. You can now listen to podcasts on your watch, interact with apps from notifications, and challenge friends to fitness competitions. Notifications from the same apps are now grouped together, like on iOS 12.

Student IDs. Apple is introducing the ability to add student IDs to Apple Wallet on the iPhone and Apple Watch. You’ll be able to pay for meals and laundry at schools this fall, including Duke, Temple, and Alabama, with more universities on the horizon.

tvOS updates

Apple introduced a few minor updates to its Apple TV software, including Dolby Atmos sound, automatic 4K HDR video feeds, and more live TV news and sports channels. Apple is also partnering with cable providers around the world to use Apple TV boxes to replace their cable boxes, including Spectrum in the US.

Nothing else

Unlike last year’s conference, which was chock full of hardware updates, Apple had no new hardware to show off at all. Hopefully this means we’ll see the next iPad Pro, and any updates to its Apple TV, Apple Watch, and other devices later this year.

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