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Apple’s plans for the 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote next week include a new “Digital Health” initiative and a major update to its ARKit augmented reality software, but no new hardware, Bloomberg reports today. As noted in January, the company decided to hold back on larger updates to its operating systems this year to focus on bug fixes and performance improvements, resulting in a fairly tame-sounding slate of WWDC announcements.
According to the new report, Apple will address recent concerns over device addiction with Digital Health, a collection of settings and usage monitoring tools that will help users reduce device and specific app usage. Several months ago, the company publicly committed to improving iOS’ parental controls, as well, which will likely tie into the Digital Health initiative.
The company also plans to show version 2.0 of its ARKit augmented reality tools, the report says, including features that can save and share the locations of both users and augmented reality objects — ideal for multi-player gaming. Google recently unveiled similar AR object-saving functionality under the name Cloud Anchors at its I/O developers’ conference, sweetening its offering by including both Android and iOS compatibility.
On the Mac front, Bloomberg says that “the focus this year will be on integrating more deeply with iOS,” potentially including the debut of Marzipan, a previously reported initiative to let iOS apps run on Macs. A separate report has claimed that the Mac App Store will be redesigned to resemble the iOS version, including an editorial-style presentation of featured content.
Other OS-level improvements are said to be fairly minor, including unspecified updates to FaceTime, the Stocks app, and Animojis, as well as the ability to temporarily hide (or “snooze”) notifications. Similarly ambiguous are Apple’s plans for Siri, which are said to include “more predictive” features this year, with “more significant changes” planned for the future. Similarly, Apple is said to be holding a redesigned Home Screen, AI assistance for Photos, and more iPad file management tools for 2019.
Said to be missing at WWDC this year: new hardware. While rumors of new MacBooks, MacBook Pros, iPad Pros, and possibly MacBook Airs have circulated for months, none are expected to debut next week. Nor is the Apple Watch Series 4, which is predicted to arrive in the fall retaining prior models’ sizes, shapes, and band compatibility while increasing screen real estate. However, Apple is reportedly planning to unlock a new rainbow-colored “Pride” watch face (shown above) for current Watches during the event, as discovered by 9to5Mac. A store with additional watch faces could be a major draw for the platform, but it has not been rumored ahead of the event.
Traditionally, Apple makes new versions of its operating systems available to developers shortly after the WWDC keynote speech concludes. The company released beta versions of minor, bug-fixing updates to iOS 11.4, tvOS 11.4, and watchOS 4.3 yesterday, alongside an unexpected beta of macOS 10.13.6. It is expected to debut early betas of iOS 12, macOS 10.14, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5 at WWDC.
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