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The first day of Apple’s annual WWDC 2018 developer conference came and went, with myriad features, tools, and tidbits announced to the world.
From iOS and augmented reality to tech addiction and fitness, here’s a recap of everything Apple covered at its WWDC 2018 keynote.
A numbers game
Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off proceedings by announcing that the company has paid out $100 billion to developers since the App Store’s inception a decade ago. That figure is up $30 billion on last year’s number, and double that of 2016.
But nobody in the audience or watching online was there to hear Apple wax lyrical about its payouts. They were there to hear about new features and products.
As expected, Apple unveiled the latest version of iOS for mobile devices, with iOS 12 promising improved performance, among a bunch of other new features. One of those was Siri shortcuts, which are basically customizable voice commands that can connect with any app. Siri shortcuts are Apple’s way of telling iOS developers there is a reason to care about the smart assistant.
Apple also unveiled an upgrade to its augmented reality (AR) platform in the form of ARKit 2.0, in addition to revealing a new AR file format that will ship with iOS 12 later this year. ARKit 2.0 will allow multiple people to share the same AR experience in real time — in short, you will be able to play an AR game at the same time as your buddy.
VentureBeat went hands-on with a new game called Swift Shot that demonstrates how this works.
Apple announced an improved Do Not Disturb feature, which includes a “Do not disturb during bedtime” setting, and users will also now be able to set time limits on individual apps. Why? It’s all about helping you beat your tech addiction. But Apple clearly needs you to use your phone — that’s what its core business is built upon, after all. It seems the company is walking a fine line between encouraging usage and curbing addiction.
Apple also gave its watch operating system some love with a handful of new features that will ship as part of watchOS 5. These include new “competitions” within the Activity app that let you challenge buddies to fitness duels and earn badges.
Notifications, on the other hand, will be more interactive — for example, they will let you respond to reservations or pay for rides directly from within the Watch version of the app.
But arguably the most interesting addition to watchOS 5 is a feature called Walkie-Talkie that lets you send voice memos to other Apple Watch users. It works over Wi-Fi or cellular connections.
Apple has often been accused of ignoring its Mac computers, but the Mac operating system usually receives a bit of a spit shine at the company’s annual conference. This year, Apple unveiled macOS Mojave — with incremental updates, such as improved security features, a new dark mode, and a redesigned Mac App Store.
However, Apple also revealed a long-rumored project that will bring iOS apps to Macs. The initial phase will involve Apple bringing some of its own iOS apps to the Mac, including Voice Memos and Apple News. But from 2019, third-party developers will also be able to port their own apps from iOS to Mac.
Apple also announced an update to its operating system for its Apple TV streaming boxes. With the upcoming tvOS 12 refresh, Apple TVs will support Dolby Atmos, a premium audio format designed for multichannel home surround sound setups.
Another new feature worth highlighting is “zero sign-on,” which is essentially an authentication tool that signs you into all your Apple TV apps automatically by detecting your home broadband network connection.
Shortly after yesterday’s event, Apple released beta versions of iOS 12, macOS Mojave, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5.
Elsewhere at WWDC 2018, Apple lifted the lid on a new version of Core ML, a programming framework it unveiled last year that makes it easier for developers to integrated trained machine learning models into their own apps. Apple said Core ML 2 is 30 percent faster and that it can help developers cut their AI model sizes by up to 75 percent.
Finally, Apple unveiled a new Health Records API so that developers and researchers can “create an ecosystem of apps” that leverage users’ medical data to manage diseases, medications, and more.
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