Thoughts on Apple’s WWDC 2019 announcements

On Monday, Apple kicked off the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with its traditional new product announcements. There’s a lot to sort through from this year’s keynote; I give my thoughts on the most relevant highlights below.

RIP iTunes

iTunes
Screenshot by Nicholas Cole (Flickr / CC BY)

After all these years, it’s finally come to pass: Apple’s finally laying iTunes to rest. While leaked over the weekend, it was confirmed on Monday that Apple’s next macOS incarnation will split iTunes into three separate apps: Music, Podcasts, and TV. Device management for those that still plug in their iDevices will apparently be handled mainly by Music (and appear in the Finder’s left-hand pane).

This is a landmark moment, and the end of an era, for long-time Apple followers. When iTunes was first introduced, it gave users an easy way to handle music files and rip CDs; it also let Apple sell music files to users. Over the years, however, Apple kept adding more and more functions into iTunes, resulting in the app becoming rather bloated. Given the iOS app split into several parts years ago, it was probably inevitable that the macOS version would do the same.

At this point, it’s not clear when the same app splitting will happen on Windows; it seems to be status quo for now. However, I can’t imagine the Windows version staying as-is for long, so I’d imagine its days are numbered.

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is getting its own app store. Additionally, updates to watchOS will allow the Watch more independence from needing a secondary device (namely an iPhone).

Apple TV

Apple announced that the controllers for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will be supported on Apple’s TV software.

The tech company also released a trailer for one of its upcoming streaming service’s shows, “For All Mankind.”

iOS 13

Apple also announced iOS 13 will be released this fall. Among the features:

  • Various updates and overhauls of the Reminders, Maps, Notes, and Mail apps.
  • Upgrades to iOS’ photos features, including using machine learning to weed out duplicate photos.
  • A “Sign in with Apple” feature, which will allow you to sign in to various online services instead of using Google or Facebook. FaceID and TouchID can also be used for authentication.
  • A system-wide dark mode option. Not something I’m excited about, but many people seem to be clamoring for it.

Along with these improvements comes one consequence. Apple’s dropping support for everything below the 6S and 6S Plus (first released in 2015) for iOS 13. Currently, iOS 12 supports the iPhone 5S (first released in 2013) and 6/6 Plus (first released in 2014).

This means my phone (an iPhone 6S) has at least one more major OS update going for it; that’s a lot better support than what my Android phones provided (or rather, didn’t provide).

iPad… and iPadOS?

iPad Pro with keyboard
Photo by Cole Camplese (Flickr / CC BY)

The iPad is seeing its version of iOS getting forked (or rebranded) into a stand-alone OS: “iPadOS.” Apple says this will allow them to continue to add more desktop-esque features to the iPad. Among the improvements announced:

  • A home screen with widgets.
  • Safari will default to desktop-like browser functionality, versus displaying mobile versions of sites.
  • Swiping to browse between open apps, just like on the iPhone.
  • The ability to plug in a thumb drive and browse files within the Files app, just like on macOS.

With iPadOS, that now gives each Apple device its own OS variant:

  • watchOS
  • tvOS
  • iOS
  • iPadOS
  • macOS

On one hand, I wonder if this splintering might be confusing to some users. On the other hand, it might fit with branding for each device. There’s also Apple’s push to make the iPad more laptop-like, presumably to compete with Surface tablets and Chromebooks.

The newest macOS name: Catalina

The next version of macOS will be named “Catalina,” presumably after California’s Santa Catalina Island. Features include:

  • Using an iPad as a second monitor via the “Sidecar” feature.
  • 4K video support in the TV app.
  • New voice control and lost device features.

Return of the cheese grater-like Mac Pro

Mac Pro (1st generation)
A first generation Mac Pro. Photo by Glenn Batuyong (Flickr / CC BY)

Finally, Apple announced the new and improved Mac Pro. The base model’s enormous $5,999 price tag brings various improvements, as well as a more accessible case than the previous wastebasket-like Pro. Namely, the return of the Pro’s previous “cheese grater”-like case.

The base model comes with 32GB of RAM, an octa-core Intel Xeon CPU, Radeon Pro 580X graphics, and a 256GB SSD.

Apple’s also releasing an optional monitor to go with the Pro. The monitor’s a 32-inch, 6K Retina display, and costs $4,999 (almost what the Pro itself costs). There’s also a Pro stand for the monitor, costing an extra $999.

I’m sure those that need the horsepower and have the money for a Pro will find it well worth the cost. The merits of paying one grand (the cost of a MacBook or iPad Pro) for a glorified monitor stand is debatable, however.

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