On Monday, Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote address announcing various Apple software news. I’ll give my thoughts on each major news item below. For details on all of the WWDC news, see Lifehacker and TechCrunch.
Apple Watch got some incremental updates. Of interest for this blog’s animation fans is that there’s now a Minnie Mouse watch skin to go along with the existing Mickey Mouse one. There’s also improved, customized support for wheelchair users.
Apple TV is gaining a few new features, including a one-time “Single Sign-On” feature for all channel apps.
After 15 years, Apple’s dropping the OS X name for its desktop operating system, and bringing back the old Mac OS name (now spelled “macOS”) to better fit with its other operating systems (tvOS, watchOS, and iOS). The Mac OS name was last used back in 1997 for system 7.6 (“MacOS 7.6”), followed by Mac OS 8 and Mac OS 9.
This fall will see released macOS Sierra. Among the new features of Sierra are Siri on the desktop and Universal Clipboard. Universal Clipboard allows users to copy information on another device (such as an iPhone), and paste it on a corresponding Mac. It sounds like a very useful feature. As for Siri, “The Joy of Tech” has a pretty hilarious cartoon about Siri joining macOS.
A few other new features include automatically freeing up hard drive space and Apple Pay in Safari.
iOS 10 gets some new features. Improved photo features are included, such as being able to create movie-like files, similar to the feature in Google Photos. There’s also improvements to Maps and Siri, including opening up both to third party developers. Siri’s also gaining “deep learning” features, presumably to keep it competitive with Google’s Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana.
iMessage is also getting some new features, particularly emojis and the like. I assume it’s to keep it competitive with Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.
There’s also transcriptions of voice mail being offered as a new feature, similar to the transcription feature in Google Voice.
Apple Music’s interface has been de-cluttered, and is much more streamlined. I was hoping we’d hear about the much-maligned iTunes being given a complete overhaul, but apparently not.
Of interest is that there was some attempt at diversity, still a rarity for major tech companies’ keynotes. An African-American woman named Bozoma Saint John was the presenter of the Apple Music portion of the address. Saint John also has a Twitter account available.
Apple File System
It wasn’t announced during the press conference, but Apple also announced later in the day of a replacement for the 20-year-old HFS+ file system. Apple File System (AFPS) is being built with both modern computing needs (flash storage, etc.) and improved security in mind (encryption at all levels).
Finally, Apple’s programming language Swift will offer a kid-friendly iPad app. “Swift Playground” will allow kids, or novices to programming in general, to learn the basic facets of programming.
A lot of minor improvements should make Apple’s operating systems and music service more enjoyable to use. Those interested in hardware, however, will have to wait for another conference for news on those upgrades.