Apple packed a lot into its annual developer’s conference keynote. On the WWDC stage, company execs touted the latest improvements coming to iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 in the fall, plus forthcoming enhancements to macOS, watchOS and others. Apple also announced new hardware at the keynote this year: a new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro powered by the new M2 processor. Here are the biggest announcement to come out of WWDC 2022.
The next iteration of the iPhone’s operating system will include new intelligence, sharing and communication features, plus new ways to customize your smartphone. Key among the latter is the completely designed Lock Screen, which lets you personalize most elements you’ll see before unlocking your iPhone. You’ll be able to tap on any element of your Lock Screen and customize it, changing the color and font of the time, adding widgets from the widget gallery and changing the backdrop with filters. If you prefer to have a photo as your Lock Screen backdrop, you’ll be able to now set a “photo shuffle” as your background, which will cycle through multiple photos throughout the day.
Also coming to the Lock Screen are Live Activities, which are essentially widgets that will update in real time as events happen. They’ll let you better keep track of things like sports games that are going on right now, Uber rides, workouts and more. The new Lock Screen will also better support different Focus modes, allowing you to customize which alerts and notifications you receive on your Lock Screen when you’re in a particular Focus mode. So, for example, you’ll be able to make a work-specific Lock Screen that will accompany your Work Focus mode.
iOS 16 will also bring some highly anticipated updates to Messages, namely message editing, undo send and mark as unread. You’ll be able to edit sent messages so you can get rid of any typos, undo messages you just sent and mark Message threads unread, in case you want to go back to them with fresh eyes. Apple’s also extending SharePlay’s abilities into Messages, allowing you to share things like videos and watch them with friends while sending messages back and forth.
iPhone users will also have access to a new feature dubbed Apple Pay Later in iOS 16. This splits purchases into four equal payments and spreads them out over many weeks, with zero interest and fees applied. That should make it easier to pay for big purchases over time, and it’ll accompany the new Order Tracking feature, which will let you monitor where you’re shipments are before they actually arrive at your doorstep.
Apple has a number of Family sharing updates planned for iOS 16, including easier ways for parents to manage their kids accounts and devices. The new Quick Start setup process will let parents more easily set up a new Apple device for their child with all the necessary parental controls and restrictions in place. A more general new feature coming to Family Sharing involves Photos — within your family, you’ll be able to have a dedicated iCloud Shared Photo Library, a separate space into which you can share specific photos that you want everyone in your family to see. The Photos app will even give you sharing suggestions based on who’s in the photo and other factors, allowing you to more easily pick and choose which images you want everyone to be able to access.
There are a bunch of other updates coming to Wallet, HomeKit, CarPlay and more, but the other new feature in iOS 16 that we wanted to touch upon here is Safety Check. It’s a new privacy feature that will let you review and reset access you’ve granted to others. In case you ever need to remove someone’s access, you’ll be able to use Safety Check to do things like stop location sharing via Find My and reset permissions you previously granted for certain apps.
MacBook Air M2, 13-inch MacBook Pro M2
Uncharacteristic for WWDC, Apple unveiled a new piece of hardware at today’s keynote: the new MacBook Air M2. As the name suggests, the laptop runs on the company’s updated M2 chipset, which Apple promises to provide up to 18 percent faster CPU performance and 35 percent faster GPU performance than M1 chipsets. The new MacBook Air also has a totally new design — gone is the wedge shape from the previous model, as it’s been replaced by a more squared-off design that remains quite svelte at 11.3mm thick and only 2.7 pounds.
The MacBook Air M1 will sport a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display that’s 25 percent brighter than the screen on the previous model and has support for one billion colors. It also has a 1080p webcam, a four-speaker sound system, a TouchID keyboard with a full Function row and a fanless interior design. Unfortunately, there are still only two Thunderbolt ports on this machine, but Apple did bring back MagSafe charging with a dedicated power port, so at least you will not tie up one of the two Thunderbolt ports with a charging cable. As for battery life, Apple estimates up to 18 hours of video playback on the MacBook Air M2. The new laptop will be available next month starting at $1,199.
The M2 chipset will also hit the 13-inch MacBook Pro soon, providing a similar performance boost to another one of the company’s most popular laptops. The MacBook Pro M2 will have an 8-core CPU and a 10-core GPU, support for up to 24GB of RAM and up to 2TB of storage, plus a battery life of up to 20 hours. The updated 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 will also be available next month and it starts at $1,299.
The upcoming version of macOS, dubbed Ventura, will bring a handful of new organization and collaboration features to Macs. Stage Manager presents a new way to organize app windows on desktop, automatically putting the app you’re currently working in front and center. Other active apps will be highlighted in a separate side dock into which you can drag and drop files to share, copy/paste and more.
Mail will get similar updates to Messages in iOS 16, like rescind send, schedule send and reminders to come back to emails at a later time. Elsewhere in Safari, it’ll be easier to share multiple tabs with friends and family, and collaborate with them in real time. For example, if you’re planning a camping trip with many people, you can share multiple tabs with camping gear, locations, information and more with your group, see which tabs they’re actively looking at and more.
New Handoff and Continuity features are coming to FaceTime on macOS, too. For the former, you’ll be able to hand off a FaceTime call you started on your iPhone to your Mac seamlessly, allowing you to use a larger screen when you need it. The new Continuity Camera feature present an interesting way for you to use your iPhone as a webcam. Using in-development magnetic stands, you’ll be able to attach your iPhone to your Mac’s screen and use its camera array as your webcam for FaceTime, Zoom, Microsoft Team and other video calls. Also, this process is completely wireless, so you won’t have to worry about hogging one of your computer’s ports for this like you would a standard external webcam.
Also worth noting here are Apple’s new passkeys, or digital keys securely stored on your device. Designed to replace passwords, these unique passwords aren’t stored in the cloud, which Apple claims makes them much less susceptible to phishing and theft attempts. Passkeys will integrate with TouchID and FaceID on Apple devices for biometric authentication, and they can be synced with other Apple devices via iCloud Keychain.
Many of the new features that will hit iPadOS 16 are those we’ve discussed from iOS 16 and macOS Venture. But iPads will also gain things like new collaboration perks, updated Game Center profiles and sharing capabilities and its own version of macOS’ Stage Manager feature. The latter is arguably the most interesting new feature as it pushes helps push the iPad further into the desktop-alternative realm. Stage Manager on iPad will let users resize app windows for the first time and overlap app windows as well, making them more similar to browser and program windows you’d use on desktop. Add in full external display support and the iPad inches even closer to being a true laptop-replacement device.
Apple Watches will gain a number of handy new exercise features in watchOS 9. Most of these are confined to the Workout app, where you’ll be able to keep track of heart rate zones while exercising and even set goals based on the heart rate zone you want to stay. Runners will appreciate the new trackable metrics available in the Workout app, including vertical oscillation, stride length and ground contact time. When you’re tracking a run, you’ll be able to see more on your Watch’s screen by using the Digital Crown to scroll through various screens with different data recorded on them. Apple will also add a Custom Workout feature to the app, which lets users create exercise routines with specific goals that they can go back to on certain training days.
Sleep tracking on Apple Watch will also get better in watchOS 9 thanks to the addition of sleep stages. The Watch will now be able to monitor when you’re in REM, core and deep sleep, recording the amount of time you spend in each phase, as well as the amount of time you spend awake each night.
Finally in the health and fitness realm, Apple’s new Medications app will make it easier for watch users to track the medications, vitamins and supplements they take and how often they take them. It has a reminders feature, which will use the audio and haptic alerts on the Watch to ping you when you need to take one of our medications throughout the day.
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