Yesterday saw the beginning of Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference. Every year, the event opens with an extended keynote. This year's revealed iOS 12, macOS Mojave, watchOS 5 and minor updates to tvOS.
With fewer blockbuster announcements than usual, this year Apple have instead focused on a raft of smaller improvements across their suite of devices.
Below we highlight some of the most interesting updates, including hot-takes from TABbers who tuned in to discover the latest that Apple has in store.
If you would like to discuss Apple’s latest announcements and what they might mean to your business, get in touch.
Devices get more proactive and predictive; Siri, shortcuts and interactive notifications
Across iOS and watchOS we saw more evidence of Apple trying to proactively serve up the right content or actions for you outside of the core app experience.
Notifications on watchOS now let users take more actions, such as adding a boarding pass to Wallet or extending your parking meter time with PayByPhone.
With the introduction of Shortcuts, we saw the integration of the ‘Workflow’ app Apple purchased last year into iOS. Shortcuts allows users to perform actions from within third-party apps without ever entering the app, for example when ordering a coffee.
Shortcuts begins to enable the bundling of app features and functions into user-defined chains/recipes. So telling Siri you’re setting off home doesn’t just open up navigation, but enables the addition of firing up your driving playlist, and pre-ordering your evening click and collect shopping.
Siri also serves up these Shortcuts as suggested actions on the lock screen both on iOS and the Watch.
"There is a potential long-term strategic play from Apple that other organisations need to be wise to. The data from Shortcuts will be gold dust once millions of iOS users are plugging in combos of apps. Apple could use that to train Siri to make better suggestions for everyone in the future, not just Siri power users. For our clients with large consumer-facing apps, it might be an important hedge to make sure customers include them in their combos to avoid Siri’s models getting trained to prioritise a competitor’s app".
George Proudfoot, Strategy Lead
Putting customers in control of their device use
In an effort to give customers ways to stay in control of their device use Apple announced a series of new features for iOS 12 including ‘Screen Time’, new Notification controls and updates to Do Not Disturb.
Screen Time is a new feature giving customers a summary of how they’re using their device, the option to set limits on certain apps or categories of app and giving parents the option to set controls on how their children use their devices.
Updates to Notifications give customers the option to turn-off specific Notifications from the lock screen and sees Siri proactively suggest notifications to turn off based on apps you’re not using. The GDPR-influenced fine-grained controls put the onus on the developer to be considerate of how and when they interrupt customers, lest they switch off.
"I’m looking forward to grouped notifications to make it easier to see all of my important notifications on the lock screen. Screen Time looks like it could be very useful, but still struggles from lack of accounts. In its current form it’s only useful if they’ve got one device each - I’ve got two children at different ages and I want to set different controls for each of them."
Rob Corradi, Design Director
Apple pushes further on Augmented Reality, adding shared experiences
Apple refined the Augmented Reality technology they first showed off last year, releasing ARKit 2 with iOS 12. This included a host of improvements including improved 3D rendering, object detection, and better face tracking. In addition, they launched a new file format for AR objects known as USDZ.
However, the highlight of the AR section was the introduction of shared experiences, where multiple users can see the same Augmented Reality experience through their own devices.
A multiplayer game from Lego used to demo this experience but it is clear that there could be wide-reaching applications for a collaborative virtual space, especially if ARKit ends up powering devices such as glasses in the future.
"Awesome opportunities for applying in the enterprise - it effectively lets us create shared layers on the physical world. Will be great for physical spaces, service environments, and obviously for construction/architecture. Plus it means in the future we’ll be able to create virtual collaboration canvases."
Jon Hocking, iOS Engineer
Amongst the above, other notable announcements include:
- Apple experimenting with porting iOS apps to MacOS, starting with some core apps including News, Stocks and Home.
- FaceTime now supports group calling with up to 32 people at once with a new active tile interface.
- Apple doubled down on customisable emoji in Messages, with the option to create personalised ‘Memoji’.
- The introduction of ‘Dark Mode’ to the MacOS interface.
- CarPlay now allows third-party navigation apps.
In addition to the headline news at the keynote Apple has are making a raft of announcements focused on developers. We'll follow up with more information on these developments early next week. In the meantime, we'll be experimenting with these new updates over the coming months and plan to share our learnings. Be sure to follow us on twitter to see what our engineers make of these new innovations.