I finally had some time to catch up with all the WWDC news, watched the Platform State of the Union and played with iPadOS. So I wanted to take some time to wrap my head around the most important announcements.
It wasn’t a big year for iOS. We got more stability improvements, which are always welcome. We also got a system-wide Dark Mode. Everyone seems to lose their minds around this feature. I already use a Dark Mode in a few apps and I didn’t miss it from iOS, but it is a welcome change nonetheless.
Apple again focused on Privacy. Sign In with Apple is a welcome service especially because it hides your email from the service. Password managers made it possible for me to use and manage unique accounts for all websites so I never used any of the services out there, like Google or Facebook (I mean, seriously, log in with Facebook? Who even considers this?).
The biggest improvement for me are Siri Shortcuts. They were already really powerful last year but now they delivered on a few key areas. They added an action to set a target AirPlay device and a lot of triggers to run a shortcut automatically. And I mean a lot. Time of day, location based, when connecting to CarPlay (does this also work with your car’s Bluetooth, like DnD While Driving?) are the obvious, but think of the kind of automation you can trigger when opening a specific app, connecting to a specific Wifi, read an NFC tag or when snoozing your alarm?
iOS on iPad becomes iPadOS but as far as I can tell this is only a marketing move. With iOS 11 iOS diverged between iPhone and iPad so this step kinda makes sense. The great thing about that is that it pushes pressure on Apple to iterate and add specific iPad features every year.
Some changes made to iPad this year are confusing. The new gestures aren’t intuitive at all. Those three finger gestures are hard to remember and impossible to discover and only offer a small benefit. The multitasking system got a lot more powerful with the ability to open multiple windows. On the other side the already complex multi-tasking system got even more complex without addressing some of its flaws, like requiring to invoke gestures to enable it.
One really welcome change was the updated Files.app. It got a lot more Mac-like and allows for SMB and USB devices and servers.
There isn’t much to say about Apple Watch. We got new first-party Watch Faces but still no third-party ones. We got an App Store. I don’t think that is a feature getting much use right now considering that even navigating installed apps is cumbersome. This will of course change when the Apple Watch gets more independent from the iPhone.
During the Keynote they blew right by the biggest change for developers: a full UI framework! This should allow developers to build way better apps. In times of major players abandoning their Watch apps this is might come to late.
AppleTV and HomePod both got multi-user support, which was much needed. I am looking forward to try Voice Recognition and remain optimistic that it works.
Both AppleTV and HomePod are powered by incredible powerful processors that don’t get much use when you are not at home. So using this idle processing power to encrypt and analyze HomeKit security camera images is a great idea.
The biggest story for the Mac was the unveil of the Mac Pro. It is insanely powerful and obviously not build for a very small and special audience. That’s why price isn’t a big deal. Same goes for the monitor. Still, $ 999 for a stand simply isn’t a great look. Making this as a separate purchase wasn’t a good idea from a PR perspective. At last Apple showed that they are still willing and capable to build great computers which should leave us optimistic for the future of the Mac Pro.
I want Apple to make a less expansive, less capable monitor for it’s customers though.
This was of course the developer conference and the focus of the whole week is on developer tools and SDKs. And they are a lot of great changes there.
I’m an AR guy. I like AR and I was building Augmented Reality apps for years. So I always get excited when Apple shows off there new features. Although I admit that the Keynote stuff wasn’t great. Apple Pay in AR quick look seems to be pointless and the Minecraft Demo was kinda boring. Still, the new features for ARKit are welcome additions. Pose recognition and People Occlusion could enable great new experiences.
Apple also introduced RealityKit. Until now, most AR apps were built using full gaming engines like Unreal, Unity3D or Apple’s SceneKit. RealityKit is a new Swift framework specifically for building AR applications. It offers some nice features but I still need some time to figure everything out.
We all thought Marzipan would be the story of the year. I think we were wrong. Not only because Marzipan was rebranded to Project Catalyst (or UIKit for Mac in the documentation) but because Apple introduced a completely new, declarative UI framework: SwiftUI. Again I need some time to figure everything out but it looks like a fresh new take on UI development.
Because it only works on macOS 10.15 and iOS 13 we will probably need a couple of years until our favourite apps adapt it though. Because it only works on macOS 10.15 and iOS 13 we will probably need a couple of years until our favourite apps adapt it though.
I am looking forward to play with all the new SDKs and betas in the summer. If you have any comments get in touch with me on micro.blog.