Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference was a hybrid event for 2022, hosting a flock of developers and members of the media at the Apple Park campus, aka “The Spaceship,” for the first time in two years, while streaming the event to a global audience.
The keynote address did not disappoint Apple fandom or market analysts. Previewing everything from iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to Apple watchOS 9 and macOS Ventura, the next operating system set to debut this fall. Apple also unveiled its newest version of Apple Silicon, the M2 chip. The M2, packing 25% more transistors and 50% more bandwidth than its predecessor, makes its debut in a new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro.
This year’s event might best be described as Apple finally pulling even with Microsoft and Google in terms of doc and workflow sharing, squarely meeting the state-of-the-art in collaborative computing, while advancing-the-art of more intuitive, human-computer interaction, and on more than one device simultaneously.
How will this round of Apple innovation change the face of computing in the 2020’s?
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13 go M2
For the first time in ages, Apple has redesigned the MacBook Air, and it’s with the new M2 chip in mind. It’s still an aluminum unibody, but now it’s uniformly thin at 11mm and weighs just 2.7 pounds. Plus, the Airs sport new colors! MagSafe also returns, leaving your two Thunderbolt ports available, and it retains an audio jack. The Air finally gets an upgrade to a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display, with 500 nits max brightness and P3 gamut. A 1080p webcam brings it up to parity with its siblings, along with a quad-speaker system (with Spatial Audio support) and three-mic array.
Thanks to the improved GPU in the M2 and a focus on performance per watt, Apple says the Air delivers the same battery life and better performance. It finally supports fast-charging, and the new adapter has a second USB-C port.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro also gets the M2 chip, with better performance thanks to an active cooling system. It hasn’t been redesigned, though.
The MacBook Air starts at $1,199 USD. The MacBook Pro starts at $1,299 USD. They both start shipping next month, and both offer a $100 discount for students and educators.
Change Your Mind, Change Your Text Message‚ or Your Email
Apple has added new features to its messaging app that will change how nearly 1 billion people send texts. If the message is an iMessage, not an SMS text, users will now be able to edit the messages, recall messages sent by mistake, and snooze texts so they can revisit them later. There is a 5-minute horizon to rethink and resend your thoughts.
The same principle applies to how you can communicate with Apple Mail. Users can now schedule emails and even cancel delivery after hitting send. Mail will intelligently detect if items such as an attachment or cc’d recipient are missing from the message. In Mail, users can also set reminders to come back to a message at a particular date and time, and receive automatic suggestions to follow up on an email if there has been no response.
In the biggest overhaul to mail search in years, users can quickly find what they are looking for as soon as they click into search, including recent emails, contacts, documents, photos, and more, all before they even start typing.
In the same vein of providing more, natural, human-like interaction in messaging, Apple has announced its newest software for iPads, iPadOS 16, will let two people collaborate in several ways. Users can message one another or start a FaceTime call to discuss what they’re working on. They can also see which tabs users are looking at in the tabs bar and initiate a session to share a movie, music, a video or play a game. With SharePlay, you can also share your screen to show apps, webpages, and more during the conversation.
Freeform Catches Up with MS Office and Google Docs
Apple’s new Freeform app, set to debut later this year is a collaborative whiteboard that lets people work on a document at the same time. A group of users will be able to see each person’s cursor when working on a Whiteboard canvas together.
When someone makes an edit to the shared document, activity updates appear at the top of the thread. Users can also join SharePlay sessions from their Mac right in Messages, so they can chat and participate in synchronized experiences.
The Whiteboarding app trend began before the pandemic (see Microsoft’s Whiteboard, for one), but accelerated during it as workers moved to remote and hybrid setups. Startups like Figma have launched new digital whiteboarding tools in recent months, as have incumbents like Box and Zoom.
Browsing Gets More Secure with Passkeys
Browsing in Safari has a been made safer with Passkeys, next-generation credentials that are more secure, easy to use, and designed to replace passwords. Passkeys are unique digital keys that stay on device and are never stored on a web server, so hackers can’t leak them or trick users into sharing them. Passkeys make it simple to sign in securely, using Touch ID or Face ID for biometric verification, and iCloud Keychain to sync across Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV with end-to-end encryption. They will also work across apps and the web, and users can even sign in to websites or apps on non-Apple devices using their iPhone.
Apple’s Next Operating System is macOS Ventura
Moving down the California coastline from Monterey and Big Sur to Ventura, Apple’s newly named OS boasts a gold rush of new features.
Taking center stage in the new operating system is a new Stage Manager tool. Next there are significant updates to Spotlight, Mail, and Safari, and other continuity features that bring the operating system closer to iOS.
Stage Manager goes to work on both your Mac and iPad. It automatically organizes open apps and windows so you can focus on work while still seeing everything at a glance.
On your Mac, Stage Manager displays your current window prominently in the center, while all your other open windows will appear on the left-hand side, so you can easily switch between them. You can also group windows when working on different tasks or projects that require different apps.
On your iPad, Stage Manager works similarly to how it does on the Mac – plus it allows you to create overlapping windows of different sizes in a single view.
Stage Manager is a major step toward making iPadOS more like macOS. It flattens the learning curve users switching between the devices. Having said that, both iPadOS and MacOS are still so two very different platforms.
It’s important to note that Stage Manager only works if you have an M1-powered iPad. So if you don’t have the iPad Air released last fall, or the 11- or 12.9-inch iPad Pro that was released in the Spring of 2021, you’re out of luck here.
Your Best Webcam Is the One You Have with You
Continuity Camera now gives Mac customers the ability to use their iPhone as a webcam, and unlocks new capabilities that were never possible before on a webcam.
With the power of Continuity, Mac can automatically recognize and use the camera on iPhone when it is nearby — without the need to wake or select it — and iPhone can even connect to Mac wirelessly for greater flexibility.3 Continuity Camera delivers innovative features to all Mac computers including Center Stage, Portrait mode, and the new Studio Light — an effect that beautifully illuminates a user’s face while dimming the background.
Plus, Continuity Camera taps into the Ultra Wide camera on iPhone to enable Desk View, which simultaneously shows the user’s face and an overhead view of their desk — great for creating DIY videos, showing off sketches over FaceTime, and much more.
Continuity Camera requires iOS 16 in addition to macOS 13, Xing revealed — and unfortunately, the iPhone 6S, 7, and first-gen iPhone SE and earlier won’t be getting the iOS 16 software update. That’s a shame because it feels like it could be a great way to make use of an older phone that doesn’t have resale value. Still, there are other ways to turn an old spare phone into a webcam.
Apple Watch Software will include Better Sleep Tracking
Apple watch users can soon see how long they’ve been asleep in each sleep stage. Sleep stage data will appear on Apple Watch in the Sleep app and more detailed information can be viewed on the iPhone.
Got a good night sleep? The Apple Watch Workout App is also being revamped to include features such as heart rate zones and new running metrics to track how efficiently you run.
Users will also be able to track and manage their medications, vitamins and supplements with the Health app. The medications feature will let users create a medications list, set up schedules and reminders, and view information on their medications in the Health app.
As part of the update, Apple is rolling out a new Siri user interface and new banner notifications. Users can also search for new podcasts on the watch. WatchOS 9 will also include new watch faces, including an astronomy face and the lunar calendar.
Live Text and Visual Look Up Get Powerful Updates
Using on-device intelligence, Live Text recognizes text in images across the system, and the feature now comes to video, making text completely interactive in paused video frames. With a single tap on a video, users can quickly translate languages or convert currencies. And Visual Look Up now allows users to lift the subject from an image or isolate a subject by removing the background with just a tap, and expands its recognition capabilities to birds, insects, statues, and more.
The Digital Car Key Arrives for the BMW 5 Series
A new way to unlock and start your car, iPhone users can soon register a key in their Apple Wallet and unlock their supported vehicle via NFC. Digital keys are stored on-device, and can be deleted from the cloud if needed. Unique driving profiles can be created for other iPhone users, giving user-specific permissions for, say, younger family members.
iPad Pro Features Take Demanding Workflows Even Further
iPadOS 16 brings new powerful features that make iPad Pro an indispensable tool for creative professionals. Reference Mode enables the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Liquid Retina XDR display to match the color requirements in workflows like review and approve, color grading, and compositing, where accurate colors and consistent image quality are critical.
Powered by the performance of the Apple-designed M1 chip, Display Zoom now allows users to increase the pixel density of the display so they can view more in their apps, which is especially useful when using Split View. With Virtual Memory Swap, iPad storage can be used to expand the available memory for all apps, and delivers up to 16 gigabytes of memory for the most demanding apps, helping to make multitasking absolutely seamless.
So What Else is New?
- With iCloud Shared Photo Library, users can now create and share a separate photo library among up to six family members, so everyone can enjoy all of their family photos. Users can choose to share all of their existing photos from their personal libraries, or share based on a start date or people in the photos. To help keep their Shared Library up to date, users will receive intelligent suggestions to share relevant photo moments that include participants in the library and any other people they choose. Every user in the Shared Photo Library can add, delete, edit, or favorite the shared photos and videos, which will appear in each user’s Memories and Featured Photos so that everyone can relive more complete family moments.
- Dictation offers a new on-device experience that allows users to easily move between voice, touch, and Scribble with Apple Pencil. Users can type with the keyboard or write with Scribble, tap in the text field, move the cursor, and insert QuickType suggestions, all without needing to stop Dictation. Dictation also features automatic punctuation and emoji dictation.3
- Siri adds the ability to automatically run shortcuts from apps, with no setup required. Users can now insert emoji when sending messages with Siri, and can skip the confirmation step when sending messages by enabling the feature in Settings. Siri can now process more types of requests offline without an internet connection, and users can now hang up a call completely hands-free by simply saying “Hey Siri, hang up.”4
- The Home app gets an all-new design that makes it easier to navigate, organize, view, and control smart home accessories at a glance, as well as Matter support,5 a new smart home connectivity standard that allows compatible accessories to work together seamlessly across different platforms, and provides more choice and interoperability, all while maintaining the highest level of security.
- Desktop-class apps enable new capabilities optimized for the iPad display, from system elements and interactions to new features available on Mac, including a consistent undo and redo experience across the system, a redesigned find-and-replace experience, customizable toolbars, the ability to change file extensions and view folder size in Files, and more.
- Apple News introduces My Sports, allowing users to follow their favorite teams, leagues, and athletes, and see curated and personalized stories from hundreds of the best local, national, and international sports publications, all in one app.6
- Notes allows users to create neater handwritten notes with the ability to automatically straighten the handwriting, use their iCloud password to lock personal notes, add screenshots in Quick Note, and take organization even further with powerful Smart Folders and filtering capabilities.
- Handoff in FaceTime allows users to start a FaceTime call on one of their Apple devices and seamlessly hand it off to another Apple device nearby. When switching to a different device, the connected Bluetooth headset transitions simultaneously so users don’t miss any of the conversation.
- New accessibility tools include Live Captions in FaceTime;7 a new Magnifier mode that delivers richer descriptions of the surroundings;8 Hover Text, which helps users to easily read input fields, menu items, button labels, and other text on iPad; support for over 20 additional languages in VoiceOver and Spoken Content; and more.
- Later this year, Game Center will introduce a redesigned dashboard that allows a player to see which games friends are playing, as well as their achievements and high scores across games, in one place, and with SharePlay integration, a player will be able to start playing multiplayer games with friends automatically on a FaceTime call. [24×7]