Apple Said to Reveal New Apps, Software Features at WWDC

Anindita | May 7, 2019 | 0 | Gadget

Apple Said to Reveal New Apps, Software Features at WWDC

Apple is planning to unleash a slew of new apps, features and development tools at its annual software conference next month. To improve its devices and strengthen its connection to customers, the consumer technology giant will continue to walk a fine line between wooing outside app makers while also competing against them.

The Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, starts June 3. The company will reveal updates to the operating systems that run the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. Highlights include upgrades to core iPhone apps such as Maps, Reminders and Messages; new apps for the Apple Watch that make it more independent from the iPhone, and enhancements to the health tracking capabilities of Apple devices, according to people familiar with the plans.

Since launching the iPhone in 2007, Apple has pursued an aggressive approach to refreshing its mobile operating systems each year. The fast pace is taxing on Apple engineers, but the results have been impressive. The company’s products are often unique and more capable than those of rivals because Apple’s home-grown software works so well with the hardware. The new updates also give users access to the latest services like Apple Music and the upcoming TV+ video-streaming subscription, which give Apple a recurring revenue stream.

It’s a delicate balance. Part of the allure of iPhones and iPads also comes from all the different apps made by independent developers. The company provides new tools for these partners, but it is increasingly building its own versions of popular apps, too. That helps differentiate its devices from rivals but sometimes upsets third-party developers. Spotify Technology SA and other app makers have complained to European antitrust regulators that Apple’s own software and services give it an unfair advantage on the App Store. US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has proposed splitting the App Store from the rest of the company, although few other policymakers have supported the idea.

“Developers, from first-time engineers to larger companies, can rest assured that everyone is playing by the same set of rules,” Apple said in a recent statement rebutting Spotify’s complaint. “That’s how it should be. We want more app businesses to thrive – including the ones that compete with some aspect of our business, because they drive us to be better.”

New features coming to the Apple Watch illustrate the balance the company must strike. Apple plans to add the App Store directly to the Watch so users can download apps on the go. This could open up huge new opportunities for outside developers, boosting app installations. But Apple has its own new Watch apps in the works, too. There will be new health applications, a Calculator and a Books app for listening to audiobooks from your wrist, the people familiar with the plans said.

So far, Apple has managed to make the strategy work. The App Store drove $46.6 billion in spending last year, almost double the amount spent on Google’s Android equivalent, according to Sensor Tower estimates. That’s wooed more than 20 million developers who have created over 2 million apps for Apple’s platform. At the same time, there are 1.4 billion active Apple devices in use, and 92 percent of iPhones and iPads run the latest operating system, or the version before that. The App Store and other digital services are on course to generate more than $50 billion in annual revenue soon.

Here are the software features Apple is planning to announce at WWDC 2019, according to people familiar with the plans. They asked not to be identified discussing unreleased product details. Apple’s plans are fluid and could change between now and the event, people familiar with Apple’s development process said. The company could also choose to push back some features until next year, like was done last year, they added. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

What’s coming for iOS 13:

  • Codenamed “Yukon,” the refreshed operating system for iPhones and iPads includes tweaks and new features across several apps, including features originally planned for last year. The company is also already working on iOS 14, codenamed “Azul,” for 2020. That release is expected to support 5G wireless network speeds and new AR functionality for next year’s iPhone.
  • The software, for the second year in a row, will speed up the devices and reduce bugs. There will be user interface tweaks, including a new animation when launching multitasking and closing apps. The widgets that appear to the left of the home screen will also have a cleaner look.
  • A Dark Mode, a black and grey-heavy interface optimised for viewing at night, that can be enabled in Control Center, the panel for quickly accessing settings.
  • The company is testing a new keyboard option that allows users to swipe across letters on the keyboard in one motion to type out words (Apple could choose to keep this feature internal). This is similar to options on Android handsets and it would compete with third-party iPhone apps such SwiftKey.
  • A revamped Health app with a new homepage that better outlines your daily activity from the day. There will be a section for “hearing health,” like how loud you play music on your headphones or the loudness of the external environment. It also includes more comprehensive menstrual cycle tracking, vying with period-tracking apps such as Clue, Flo and Ovia.
  • A new feature similar to popular third-party apps Duet Display and Luna Display that will let users use their iPad as a second Mac screen with the ability to draw with an Apple Pencil, expand the viewing area, and get Mac notifications.
  • An updated Reminders app that better competes with the several to-do list programs available on the App Store. The new app has a main screen with four default sections laid out in a grid: tasks to be done today, all tasks, scheduled tasks, and flagged tasks. Each section has its own different-coloured page that users can add items to.
  • A new feature in Screen Time, Apple’s tool for controlling device usage, will let parents limit who their kids can and cannot contact at certain times. For example, a parent could make it so their kid can’t contact anyone but them during the evenings. Apple was criticised recently for removing multiple third-party parental-control apps from the App Store, but the company said it yanked the software due to security and privacy concerns.
  • A refreshed Apple Books app will encourage users to read more by way of an updated progress tracker and a new rewards system.
  • iMessage gets an upgrade with a WhatsApp-like enhancement that lets people set a profile picture and display name, and choose who sees it. There’s also a dedicated menu in the conversation view to send sticker versions of Animojis, the virtual characters that users can control with the latest iPhone and iPad cameras, and Memojis, which are virtual representations of users themselves.
  • An updated Maps app will make it easier to set frequent locations, like home or work addresses, and then navigate there. Users will also be able to create groups of frequent places and add a photo to them. The current interface for navigating to suggested or past destinations can sometimes be confusing. This will increase competition with Google Maps and Waze apps.
  • Apple is combining the Find my Friends and Find my iPhone services into a new, single app, internally called “GreenTorch.” This could go along with a physical beacon to attach to non-Apple devices like a backpack, according to 9to5Mac. That would challenge Tile, which makes similar iPhone-tracking dongles.
  • The built-in Mail app will be updated with the ability to mute individual threads, block incoming email from certain contacts, and will have simpler folder management.
  • A new system-wide Sleep Mode that will tie into an upgraded version of the Bedtime tab in Apple’s Clock app. The Bedtime feature lets users input the time they fall asleep and when they want to wake up. The software currently tracks some sleep patterns, but the new version will be more extensive and could integrate with future Apple sleep-tracking devices, like a new Apple Watch. The Sleep Mode, when enabled in Control Center, turns on Do Not Disturb, darkens the Lock Screen, and mutes all notifications.
  • An upgraded Home app as part of the company’s smart home push will be more integrated with security cameras and have the ability to view past recordings.
  • Apple is also planning to let the HomePod speaker respond to different users’ voices, creating a much requested multi-user mode.
  • A more organised “share sheet” interface for sharing photos and web links. The software will suggest people to send content to based on how frequently you interact with them.
  • The company is testing a downloads manager for its Safari web browser so users can access downloads in a single place like they can on a computer. An updated Files app will work better with third-party software.
  • The iPad is getting some unique features, including an updated interface for multi-tasking, tweaks to the home screen, and the ability to cycle through different versions of the same app.
  • Apple is planning to better integrate hearing aid support and will have a more comprehensive Accessibility settings menu on the main page of the Settings app.

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