Monday, June 10, 2019

Apple's World Wide Developers Conference Recap

Summer has finally arrived! It’s a great time for BBQ, Baseball, going to the beach, and, if you love everything Apple like I do, the World Wide Developer Conference.
Each year, hundreds of developers make the pilgrimage to Northern California to learn about all of the new software features we will experience in the coming year, straight from the source.

Tickets are hard to come by and can only be obtained by entering a lottery, but even watching the keynote via livestream and following the tech journalists on Twitter, the excitement and energy of this conference can be felt all the way from San Jose, CA. Here are the most notable takeaways for 2019.


Lucky 13

iOS 13, brings a host of new features and platform improvements that will change the way we interact. One exciting feature is a deeper integration between Siri and AirPods.

Imagine going for a run wearing a pair of AirPods and you get a text.  Instead of stopping to look down at your phone, Siri will now be able to read incoming notifications as they come in.

This year, we will see Dark Mode finally come globally to iOS. So when you switch Dark Mode on, the app will take on a darker, more subdued tone. If you are a Twitter user, you may notice that the Twitter iOS app already gives the ability to switch between light and dark modes, however, iOS 13 will now allow you to do this system wide for all apps.

Sign in with Apple

Apple will now offer a “Sign in with Apple” option (similar to signing in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc), which developers will be able to add to their apps and websites. If you, like many, are concerned about privacy, this will allow you to sign up for websites without sharing your email.

When you choose to sign into a website or app with your Apple iCloud account, you will be able to choose if you want the third party to have your email address. If you choose not to share it, Apple will auto-generate a “burner” email address, transparent to you, that will simply redirect any communications to your main email. If you want to stop receiving emails, you can simply choose to have the auto-generated email address stop forwarding emails to you.

WatchOS 6

If you are one of the many people who own an Apple Watch, the conference did not disappoint this year. In announcing WatchOS 6, Apple will provide cool new Watch faces, a calculator, and standalone Watch apps that no longer require a companion iPhone app, so developers can build Watch apps that stand alone without the need to connect to a corresponding iPhone app. Android Wear already allows this, so this is a welcome addition to Apple Watch. This also means that the Watch will now have its own built-in App Store, so you can browse and download apps straight from your wrist. This will allow for apps with built in streaming audio, such as MLB At Bat, and Apple Audiobooks

In addition, there are a host of new health and fitness features, such as a menstrual cycle tracker, noise tracking to warn you of high decibel exposure, and the ability to track trends in your exercise activities.

Catalina

As with Apple’s current theme of naming MacOS versions after places in their home state of California, this year we are get Catalina. In addition to the standard performance enhancements, we will be seeing a re-designed Reminders app. Thanks to some new tools, iPad app developers will be able to more easily port their apps to Mac desktop.

If you own an iPad, you will now be able to natively use it as a second screen for your Mac using a new technology called “Sidecar.” This will allow better communication between iPad and Desktop apps. For instance if you have Adobe Illustrator running on MacOS, you can load the canvas on an iPad, and use Apple Pencil to draw, while the content on the Mac updates in real time.

A Fond Farewell to iTunes

Released in 2001, one year before the iPod hit the scene, iTunes has been the source of joy and frustration ever since. Over the years, iTunes has expanded beyond music to TV shows, movies, mobile apps, and even social media (Ping, anyone?)

Because of this, iTunes has gotten bloated, so the announcement that it will be going away was not surprising. Instead, Apple will be splitting it up into three new apps. Music, Podcasts, and Apple TV. You will be able to sync your iPhone using an updated Finder application.

Word of Caution about Betas

While most of us will need to wait until the Fall to experience these new features, Apple did make all of these new operating systems available as early betas to developer (and the general public later this summer). As tempting as it might be to install iOS 13 or MacOS Catalina, these early betas are highly unstable. I installed iOS13 on a spare iPhone, and there is still plenty of bugs. So proceed with caution! If you want to install the MacOS beta, I would recommend setting up a separate hard drive partition and installing there. This will allow you to switch between your stable OS and the beta. For iOS, I do not recommend installing the iOS 13 beta on your personal device. If you have a spare device to install it on, that's the way to go.

In Conclusion

Once developers get their hands on the beta software, there will be all sorts of great apps that take advantage of iOS 13, WatchOS 6, and MacOS Catalina. 2019 - 2020 is going to be an exciting year for Apple.

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