With Apple’s WWDC event less than a month away, consistently accurate Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman has published an extensive list of new features that are expected to be debuted for the next-generation iOS, macOS, and watchOS operating systems, and the themes are clear. iOS 13 devices — including the iPhone and iPad — will see numerous small but desirable refinements; while macOS 10.15 will focus on adding one long-expected feature, alongside several iOS apps; and watchOS 6 will dramatically expand the capabilities of Apple Watches.
Codenamed Yukon, iOS 13 is expected to add previously reported features, such as a system-wide dark mode, a universal Find app for people and devices, and support for using an iPad as a Mac’s second screen. But there are numerous additional changes, including:
- Refreshed Books, Health, and Reminders apps with updated interfaces, including features such as superior tracking of your daily activities and reading progress, rewards for reading, and streamlined interfaces for managing to-do reminders.
- An updated version of iMessage, borrowing cues from WhatsApp, adding user profile pictures and display names.
- More powerful Mail, Maps, and Safari apps, including better Mail muting and blocking, easier navigation to past destinations, and a downloads manager for web content. The Home app will improve support for HomeKit security cameras, including the ability to view recordings.
- Upgrades to Screen Time and Bedtime, enabling parents to restrict kids’ communications on a per-user basis during specific hours, and access a system-wide Sleep Mode for greater control of device notifications — potentially with tie-ins to sleep-tracking devices.
One iOS 13 feature that may be specific to the HomePod speaker is an ability to differentiate between and respond to multiple users’ voices. The report suggests that this will create “a much requested multi-user mode” but did not provide specifics as to how the feature will work in practice.
Gurman also notes that iOS 14, codenamed Azul, is in the works for 2020, with integrated support for 5G cellular networking speeds and new augmented reality features. While iOS 13 will almost certainly be available in beta form at WWDC 2019 and go final this September, the next version of iOS is unlikely to become available for testing until next year.
In the meantime, macOS 10.15 will begin its previously reported transition to supporting iPad apps this year and iPhone app support will be added in macOS 10.16 next year. While these features are easy to sum up, they’ll require extensive under-the-hood changes to macOS and its frameworks, which are expected to go fully 64-bit this year. Additionally, the report confirms that Apple will bring iOS apps such as Music, Podcasts, and the merged Find app to the Mac this year, as well as Screen Time, Siri Shortcuts, Reminders, and Books.
Apple Watch users will have largely good news with this year’s release of watchOS 6, according to the report. Previously limited to the iPhone’s Watch app, the watchOS App Store will come directly to the Apple Watch itself, enabling direct app installation without the use of a companion device. New apps, watch faces, and complications are also coming, including:
- New health apps, called Cycles and Dose, will help track menstrual cycles and provide pill reminders.
- iOS apps, including Books, Calculator, and Voice Memos will be ported to watchOS, enabling audiobook listening, quick math computations, and audio recording directly from the wearable.
- Several additional watch faces and complications are being added, including a Solar Analog face with a sundial design, additional X-Large face options for low visibility users, and complications to track hearing aid battery life, rain data, and more.
The report unfortunately doesn’t suggest any progress on one much-requested feature: a store or other means to add truly custom watch faces. Instead, Apple appears to be making only small face tweaks, such as a Gradient face that lets users pick a gradient background, a California face with mixed Roman and Arabic numerals, and an Infograph Subdial addition with larger complications than the past Infograph and Infograph Modular faces.
WWDC 2019 will kick off on June 3 in San Jose, California, with a keynote led by Apple CEO Tim Cook. Traditionally, software chiefs such as Craig Federighi and Kevin Lynch take prominent roles introducing iOS, macOS, and watchOS updates. Apple is also expected to show a new version of the Apple TV operating system tvOS, and marketing head Phil Schiller could reveal new hardware, such as a long-gestating redesign of the Mac Pro alongside a new external monitor with HDR support.