I’ve learned over the years not to have any specific expectations from Apple’s WWDC keynote. Some years they introduce something big and new that we were pretty much expecting. Other years they blindside us. As the CEO of a company that creates tools for building apps for most of Apple’s ecosystem and given Apple’s history of secrecy, I’m understandably curious just how blindsided I might be each June. Fortunately, this year’s keynote was filled with features that ranged from mildly interesting to really awesome but all incremental improvements across Apple’s software line.
There’s a lot of neat new features coming in iOS 16. The kinds of customizations Apple is adding to the Lock Screen are quite nice both aesthetically and practically. While I’m personally not prone to sending text messages I later regret, being able to edit messages and more importantly unsend them, is going to save many relationships. That you can easily switch between dictation and the keyboard means I will probably use dictation a lot more than I have in the past. I have a friend that uses it constantly and I can’t tell you how many times a second text message arrives to explain the incomprehensible message that had arrived moments earlier. That it now adds punctuation will make me want to use it more as dictating punctuation has always felt awkward to me. It will however likely infuriate my kids who think punctuation in text messages is rude. That ApplePay is going to have integrated order tracking is really nice. I have been using an app for that and sadly quite recently several of the companies it allows you to track have dramatically reduced the functionality of their APIs making the app almost useless. That you will be able to easily share photos amongst family members via an iCloud Shared Photo Library is a feature my family will definitely be using. It’s very cool that you can have it automatically share photos that were taken when family members were close by or when they are in the photo itself. It’s a very nice use of Apple Neural Engine.
That Apple announcing a feature to help people escaping abuse says a lot about what they value and how important privacy is to one’s personal safety. It goes right along with features they have added in the past that allow you to reach into your pocket and dial 911 should you need to do that in secret. I’m big into making my home smarter so I was happy to see the Home app getting a facelift as well as Apple working with other companies on smart home interoperability. I’m also a huge fan of CarPlay and seeing Apple’s vision for it becoming nearly the entire way in which you interact with displays and controls in your car and being able to customize that to your liking was far more than I had ever thought would happen. That future is clearly years away because it requires a lot of cooperation with the automakers but as they adopt it, it will certainly sway my future car purchases.
I wear an Apple Watch and very much care about the quality of my sleep. That they have added the ability to see your REM, core and deep sleep cycles is very cool. I will definitely be wearing my watch to bed more often as a result. They are adding a medication reminder system which I can see as being a benefit. I only take one pill a day so it’s not something I would use but my wife takes several and on her busy days sometimes forgets to take them so it’s a feature she will definitely use.
The M2 was something I was fully expecting and it’s nice to see it incrementally getting better. Apple made it clear that performance per watt is the key metric for them and that makes a lot of sense. We need that kind of metric in many other places in society so that we better understand the impact we are having on each other and our planet.
The surprise feature in macOS Ventura was Stage Manager. it makes it easy to avoid the clutter of having a lot of windows open. I wasn’t expecting it and yet I’m sure I will use it. Like Messages, Mail is getting an unsend feature and lots of other nice improvements especially to search (which has always felt weak to me) but I’ll have to test it to know just how much it has improved. Passkeys is Apple’s name for their implementation of the Fido standard they are collaborating on with Google and Microsoft. It’s designed to get rid of passwords entirely, something of which I will definitely be an early adopter. They really have thought that one through. It will make all of our devices and data far more secure. Being able to use FaceTime with Handoff will be really nice. I’ve been on a FaceTime call and then hung up to call someone back from my Mac so it will be nice to be able to just transfer it from one device to another.
The new MacBook Air is a nice incremental upgrade. If you have an Intel-based MacBook Air, this is a good time to upgrade.
iPadOS 16 is bringing some more desktop-like features to iPad. Things like standard ways for accessing documents, renaming them, collaboration, etc., all make iPad feel a little more like a desktop without it being a desktop. It feels like Apple is striking the right balance. They also previewed a new app called Freeform which is essentially a digital whiteboard that you can use to collaborate with others. Though now that I say that, it seems to not really do it justice given that you can share so many different things in a common space, from text, drawings, photos, video and more. It would be great for brainstorming with a remote team.
Overall, this keynote demonstrated a lot of incremental improvements across the software side of the product line and that’s a good thing. We all want something big, new and flashy but those often come at the cost of a lot fewer incremental improvements. I’m actually quite happy that we weren’t blindsided by something that could potentially change our short term plans here at Xojo. I look forward to using many of the new features they are adding this year.