Apple WWDC 2018: The 5 Most Important Announcements


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In contrast to Apple’s developer conference last year, the WWDC 2018 keynote was almost entirely devoted to software. No new hardware was announced, unlike the flurry of Mac and iPad announcements that Apple introduced at WWDC a year ago. Instead, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company focused on improvements coming in iOS 12 that aim to make the iPhone and iPad a better experience in areas such as performance and Siri voice control.

Apple also debuted iOS 12 updates of a different flavor from the norm — with an array of new features for helping users to better control their smartphone habits (as well as the habits of their children). Notably, Apple said iOS 12 will be supported on all of the same devices that currently support iOS 11 — which covers devices back to 2013 and makes it the largest user base ever supported by an Apple release, according to the company.

Additionally, Apple announced the next version of macOS — known as macOS Mojave — and previewed several new features of the operating system. Apple said the new versions of iOS and macOS will be made available to users this fall, with beta versions available to developers now.

What follows are the five most important announcements from Apple’s WWDC 2018 keynote.


iOS 12 Performance

Apple led off the WWDC 2018 keynote by highlighting how iOS 12 will improve the performance of iPhones and iPads, even for older devices. The company gave the example of performance improvements that you’ll see on an iPhone 6 Plus — including 40-percent faster app launches and a 70-percent faster slider to the photo app. The forthcoming iOS 12 will be able to “instantly” ramp up processor performance to a peak level when bursts of performance are needed, and then will ramp down the performance just as quickly in order to preserve battery life, according to Apple.


Augmented Reality

Apple announced an array of updates around augmented reality in iOS 12, including a new AR file format called USDZ that is optimized for sharing. Adobe, for one, announced it will be bringing native USDZ support to its Creative Cloud suite. Apple also announced a new iOS app called Measure, which allows users to easily measure objects by tapping and dragging along the dimensions of objects. And, Apple said that the next version of its AR development kit, ARKit 2, will support “shared experiences” where multiple users will be able to interact in a common virtual environment — such as by playing an AR game together.


Siri

While Siri has lagged behind the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in terms of smarts, the voice assistant is getting what could be a major improvement in terms of usefulness in iOS 12. Siri’s forthcoming “shortcuts” feature will allow users to add simple voice-controlled actions for “any app” in iOS, according to Apple. For instance, users will be able to say the shortcut phrase “I lost my keys” and have a Tile object tag ring, or do such tasks such as ordering groceries or quickly pulling up travel plans in Kayak, the company said.


Controlling The Habit

Apple executives suggested during WWDC 2018 that they’re taking the issue of smartphone addiction seriously — and said iOS 12 will provide a number of tools for helping users better control their time on devices. Among the introductions will be a new feature called “screen time,” which will provide reports on device activity with details such as how much time you’re spending in each app, how many times you’re picking up your phone per hour and which apps are sending the most notifications. Users will also be able to set daily limits on how much time they’re spending in certain apps, and receive notifications when their allotted time has run out.

For parents, there’ll now be the option of creating “allowances” that limit their children’s time in certain apps, as well as a way to easily restrict access to certain apps and websites. The parental controls will use the existing family sharing functionality and will be able to be managed remotely from the parent’s device, Apple said.


MacOS Mojave

Apple executives said that the upcoming macOS Mojave version will include improvements to the user interface and productivity capabilities. The new “dark mode” (pictured) will provide a black-colored theme, which Apple positioned as especially appealing for developers working in coding environments. Meanwhile, the desktop “stacks” feature will automatically arrange desktop files and folders into stacks by file type, date or tag, and the new “gallery view” will provide an easier way to preview content in the finder with a large preview box and thumbnails at the bottom. Additionally, taking a screenshot will bring up a thumbnail of the image in the corner of the screen, which can be clicked on to launch quick editing (similar to how screenshots work in iOS).

Apple also announced that it’s updating the Mac app store and will be welcoming certain popular apps for the first time — including Microsoft’s Office 365 suite later this year. And starting in 2019, Apple said that a new developer framework “will make it easier for developers to bring their iOS apps to macOS.”

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