The 2019 Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) occurred on June 3 in San Jose, California. The WWDC is the conference where new operating systems, new features, and information for app developers are announced. During the conference, developers can attend many information sessions and labs. There were a number of accessibility sessions.
Apple CEO Tim Cook welcomed the app developers, saying, “WWDC is more vibrant than ever, with attendees from more countries and more first time attendees than ever.” He played a clip from “For All Mankind,” a new show that will be on Apple’s new TV Plus, launching this fall. Cook said, “Apple TV Plus will be available on the Apple TV app which is across all of your screens including your smart TVs.” He added that the Apple TV4K is the best way to watch this new content.
The new operating system for the Apple TV will feature personal profiles and have a new home screen. Each user will have their own Up Next list as well as personalized recommendations for TV shows and movies. Cook explained that it will be easy to switch between users with the new tvOS control center. Apple Music subscribers will also get their own individual “music experience.” Lyrics will be visible on the screen, in sync with the song.
Cook next spoke about Apple’s upcoming Apple Arcade and how it will look with tvOS 13. There will be support for Xbox One S and PlayStation DualShock 4 controllers. Cook said that there will be new “under the sea” (underwater-themed) screen savers.
Cook stated that "Apple Watch is the number one watch in the world” and turned the discussion over to Apple’s Vice President of Technology, Kevin Lynch, who spoke about the Apple Watch’s new operating system.
watchOS 6 will have more faces than when the first watch was released. Some of the faces include the Gradient, which animates with the time, and the California Dial, which is a classic watch face design.
A new option with the watch is that you can have it make a sound or give a Taptic notification on your wrist every hour. The robin song sound was recorded at Apple Park. If sound is off, you have the option to have vibration. You can choose to turn this feature off completely and have neither sound nor vibration.
New Apple apps coming to the Apple Watch include Audio Books for listening to Apple books, Voice Memos for making quick recordings, and Calculator.
Lynch added that Apple is giving developers a new API (Application Program Interface) so that the Watch apps no longer require an iPhone. He added that developers will have a new audio API to create audio content, such as podcasts and music, that can stream directly from the watch. He added, “With new developer tools and a new, native UI (user interface) Framework coming this year, we are enabling a new generation of apps for the watch.”
He announced that the Apple Watch will have its own App Store. He said that the App Store can be searched with Dictation, Scribble, or Siri. Product pages can be read and apps can be purchased and installed directly on the watch.
Health and Fitness Apps
Lynch introduced Dr. Sumbul Desai, Apple’s VP of Health, to speak about health and fitness apps. She explained that the Activity app will now feature activity trends. It will compare your activity from the last 90 days to the last 365 days. This will let you know whether your activity level has improved or declined. She said, ”Activity trends will provide you with a more complete picture of what you can do to stay active and even more importantly, give you the motivation you need for long term success.”
She then introduced the new Noise app, which uses the Watch’s microphone to detect the decibel (dB) level of sounds. If the sound is potentially damaging to your hearing, you will receive a notification on the watch. Selecting the Noise app will provide more information about the sound. There will also be a Noise complication for the watch. This will let you measure a sound just by raising your wrist. She added that the app does not record or save any audio.
The final new health app is Cycle Tracking, which lets women track their menstrual cycle. This app will also be available in the Health iOS app. She said, “We are so excited to bring more focus to this incredibly important aspect of women’s health.”
Lynch stated, “The Health app is the best place to see all of your data in one place. We’ve redesigned it to be more meaningful to you.” The app will use machine learning from your iPhone to determine which highlights are more interesting to you. Data will be encrypted and stored on your iPhone or in iCloud. You decide what, if any, data is shared.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, gave the presentation about iOS 13. He began by saying that iPhones with face ID will unlock 30% faster. Because of the way apps will be packaged in the App Store, downloads will be 50% smaller and updates will be 60% smaller. Apps will launch up to twice as fast in iOS 13.
Dark Mode, a feature that was first introduced last year for the Mac, will now be available in iOS 13. Dark Mode changes the screen contrast and emits less blue light. Federighi demonstrated how some apps, including Messages, Notes, and News, will look in Dark Mode. He also demonstrated widgets and notifications.
Safari in iOS 13 gives users the ability to change text size quickly. Individual websites can have specific preferences.
Mail will have Desktop-class formatting controls including for Rich Fonts.
Notes gets support for shared folders and a new gallery view.
The app has been completely rewritten. There is support for smart lists. The app is more intuitive.
Maps has been improved. Apple had people fly and drive around the country to collect new data. The main screen will have a Favorites area. The new Collections feature lets you create a group of locations. Maps will have a Look Around feature for exploring an area. Tapping on a label will provide additional information. US Maps will be available by the end of this year and select other countries will be available by next year.
Federighi said, “At Apple we believe privacy is a fundamental human right and we engineer it into everything we do and this year we’re doing even more.” You can have an app ask if you want to share your location every time the app is used. If you choose to share your location continually with an app, Apple will send you reports on what the app is doing. Apple will also block apps from using Bluetooth and WiFi to find your location.
Instead of logging into an app with your social media account such as FaceBook, Apple will have a new feature called “Sign In with Apple.” This will be available on all of Apple’s platforms and on the web. Federighi said:
Sign In with Apple is the fast, easy way to sign in without all the tracking. This simple API allows the developer to put a ‘Sign In With Apple’ button right in their app. You just tap it and you’re authenticated with Face ID on your device, logged in with a new account without revealing any new personal information. If an app wants your email address, you can choose to hide it. Apple will then create a random email address which will forward to your real email address. We give each app a unique email address and this means you can disable any one of them at any time when you’re hearing from that app.
A new feature, “Home Kit Secure Video,” will be included in iOS 13. If you have security cameras, their video will be sent to your device for analysis and then will be stored in iCloud. You will be notified if there is any activity and you can review the videos. Apple is adding 10 days of video clips to your iCloud storage at no cost. When the feature is launched, cameras from Logitech, Netatmo, and Eufy will be supported and additional manufacturers will be added later.
Apple is also adding Home Kit support for routers in order to improve privacy. The first supported routers are from eero, Linksys, and Internet service providers such as Charter Spectrum.
In iOS13, you will be able to share your photo and name with people you message. You can use animojis and Memojis. Apple will be adding more Memoji features including makeup and accessories.
Apple is adding Memoji stickers that can be used in Messages and a number of other apps. A sticker pack will be created automatically for each of your Memojis. Memoji stickers can be used on any Apple device with an A9 chip.
Camera and Photos
There are new features in iOS 13 including adjustable lighting in photos. Videos can be rotated. Federighi added, “We’re using advanced machine learning to remove duplicates and clutter and let you focus on your best shots. We’re taking these photos and intelligently organizing them to create a sort of diary of your life.” This is all done from the new Photos tab. Photos can be browsed by day, month, or year.
Siri, AirPods, HomePod, and CarPlay
Federighi introduced Stacey Lysik, Apple Senior Director of OS Program Management, to speak about Siri, AirPods, HomePod, and CarPlay.
If you are wearing AirPods, Siri can now read incoming messages and you can dictate a response. This feature also works with other third-party messaging apps using SiriKit. You can also share music with another AirPod wearer.
You can handoff content from your iPhone to your HomePod and vice versa by bringing the iPhone close to the HomePod.
Apple is introducing live radio. You can ask Siri to play radio stations from IHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio and radio.com. There will be more than 100,000 live radio stations available from all around the world.
HomePod will be able to learn which family member is speaking and will personalize its response.
The CarPlay dashboard has been redesigned. Siri will also work with Pandora and theWaze app.
Siri Short Cuts has a new feature called Suggested Automations. It creates templates based on your routines.
Apple used neural text-to-speech to improve Siri’s voice. Siri’s voice is now completely generated by software. Lysik said the voice change is most noticeable when Siri is speaking longer or complex sentences. She then played the Siri voice from iOS 12 and then the voice for iOS 13 and there was a significant improvement.
A new iOS13 feature is that you can have unknown calls sent directly to voicemail.
The iPad will have its own operating system, iPadOS. This is a new version of iOS specifically for the iPad. All new features in iOS 13 will also be on the iPad.
The iPad’s home screen has been redesigned. Icons are in a tighter grid and widgets can be placed on the home screen. Multitasking will be made easier with Slide Over windows. Sliding on the bottom will quickly display apps. You will be able to open two instances of the same app side by side. This will also work with third-party apps. The new App Exposé feature lets you view your open apps.
New Files features are coming to iPadOS. There will be a new column view plus file previews, folder sharing, and more.
On the iPad, Safari will have “Desktop-class Browsing.” This means that instead of the mobile version of Safari, the Desktop version of a site will automatically be displayed. It will be optimized for Safari and will have touch input. iPadOS will have a download manager in Safari, 30 keyboard short cuts, and more. New fonts will be available (from third parties) that can be downloaded directly from the App Store. New gestures will make working with documents faster and easier. Latency with Apple Pencil will go from 20ms to 9ms.
Federighi closed the iPadOS section saying, “There’s a ton of new features that take iPadOS to the next level.”
Tim Cook introduced the new Mac Pro. He said, “This is the most powerful Mac we have ever created.” The Mac Pro has a stainless steel frame and all the internal modules mount to the frame. It uses Intel Xeon processors with up to 28 cores, up to 1.5TB of system memory, and has 8 internal PCI slots. To go along with the new Mac Pro, Apple introduced their new Pro Display XDR. Both will be available this fall, as will the stand for the display.
The new Mac operating system is macOS Catalina. Craig Federighi returned to discuss its new features.
No More iTunes
iTunes is being replaced with three separate apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV. Syncing a device is done through the sidebar in Finder.
This feature will be available on the Mac and in iOS. In order to demonstrate what Voice Control can do, a video was played where a user gave the Mac a series of commands. Although there was no verbal description, it was clear what was happening. The demo showed dictation, editing, activating buttons, selecting emojis, and more. All information is processed on your Mac; no data goes to Apple.
Sidecar is a new app that lets you use your iPad as an additional display for your Mac.
This app combines Find My iPhone and Find My Friends. It will be available for Mac and iOS. It can now locate Apple devices that are offline. Federighi explained, “Even when it’s offline and sleeping, it sends out a secure Bluetooth beacon that can be detected by other people’s Apple devices nearby. They can relay your MacBook’s location to the network and ultimately back to you; so you can find it. This whole process is encrypted and anonymous.”
This is the same feature that is currently available on iOS. It only works with Macs that have a T2 security chip. If your Mac is stolen, you can remotely lock it. Your Mac will not even boot unless you reactivate it.
Several existing apps have been updated:
- New photo browsing page.
- Updated home page in Safari.
- Gallery view option in Notes.
- The reminders app has been re-designed.
- Screen Time will be on the Mac. All Screen Time settings will also be on the Mac.
Apple introduced Project Catalyst. This technology lets a developer create a Mac app from their existing iPad app. The first version of Project Catalyst was used to bring apps including News and Voice Memos to macOS Mojave. The new version of Project Catalyst was made available to developers on June 3, 2019.
Federighi explained that the developer just needs to open their existing iPad project and check the Mac checkbox. Xcode will fill in the necessary information. Then the developer can work with the app to make it better. For example, the native Twitter app will be able to run on the Mac.
There are many tools for app developers. During the keynote, AR and Swift were mentioned. RealityKit is designed to assist developers who want to use AR in their app, but who do not have much experience. ARKit is getting a major update.
Swift is getting a new framework called SwiftUI. You can now write less code to perform the same function. SwiftUI will also be available for all Apple platforms.
Public versions of iOS 13, iPadOS, watchOS 6 and macOS Catalina will be available this fall.
At WWDC 2019, Apple presented many new and useful features across its operating systems, though accessibility was mentioned only during the Voice Control demonstration. It is hoped that Apple will integrate VoiceOver into these features. Stay tuned.
If you want to learn about material presented to developers during the conference, download the 2019 WWDC app from the App Store.
This article is made possible in part by generous funding from the James H. and Alice Teubert Charitable Trust, Huntington, West Virginia.
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