2020 has not gone as most might have expected, it has provided twists, turns, and things that were completely unexpected. Even with so many things not following the usual pattern, some things must go on. One of those things is Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference, albeit with a slightly different approach.
Today’s keynote has provided a look at what is coming with the latest releases of their platforms. We will look at all of them, but let us start with watchOS.
In just over 5 years, the Apple has become a mainstay and a constant throughout their day. It might become a constant companion at night as well. This is due to the new Sleep Tracking feature of watchOS 7. Sleep Tracking will keep track of your motions throughout the evening, including micro movements, to help you determine how well you slept.
watchOS will also be gaining new Watch Face sharing capabilities with “Face Sharing”. If you see a Watch Face that you want, you can easily download it from a webpage, iMessage conversation, or in the App Store.
The Apple Watch is great for quickly glancing at information from complications. Developers will now be able to provide you with more information and multiple complications. This means that you can have multiple complications from the same developer.
Health is the primary focus for Apple Watch and one way to stay healthy is by exercising. There are a variety of different workout types available now, but there are a couple more. These are dance, functional strength training, and cool downs.
One of the biggest focuses this year, health wise, has been Covid-19. One way to help minimize exposure is through hand-washing. The Apple Watch will detect when you are washing your hands, through motion and sound, and will help you make sure that you wash your hands for the recommend length of time.
Next, let us look at iOS.
iOS powers the iPhone and iPod touch. iOS 14 has seen some major changes this year. The iPhone’s home screen has remained largely unchanged since the original iPhone with its grid of icons. Now, you will be able to hide entire pages of apps and move them to your App Library.
The App Library will allow you to search for apps, and will automatically organize applications so you can find them. The App Library is just a swipe to the right after your last page of shown apps.
Arguably though, the biggest change is with Widgets. Instead of having all of your widgets live in one view, you can now various sizes of widgets, provided a developer creates them. This will allow you to be able to see the information that you want more easily.
Additionally, the widgets you see can be personalized. For instance, you may want to see news in the morning, meetings throughout the day, and fitness information in the evening. This is entirely possible through machine learning. iOS now supports picture in picture including the ability to hide the currently playing video but still have the audio continue so you can do other tasks while still continuing your audio.
There is another new feature to highlight for iOS. That feature is called App Clips. App Clips are small parts of an app that allow you perform particular tasks. App Clips are great for tasks like paying for parking but you do not have the app, an App Clip can allow you to pay for the parking, but not having to get the entire app. However, you are able to get the full app if you need to.
Communication is a major aspect to human culture in general, but is vitally important this year. There are many ways to communicate and one of the primary ways is with Messages. Messages has been updated with a couple of new features. The first of these is improved group messages. You can assign an icon to a group so you can easily identify the group. Similarly, you can pin it to the top so you can quickly access your chats. Some group chats are quite active and you may not always want to be notified for each message. Now with iOS 14 you can change it so you will only be notified when you are mentioned in a chat. This means that you can always react when you need to, but you can also go back to the previous messages later on.
Communication does not always occur via a screen, it can also occur in-person. While it happening left often now with Covid-19, but that will not always be the case. The world does not have a single language and this can make it difficult to communicate. There is a new app called Translate. The Translate app will allow two individuals to communicate by translating the languages used. This means that you can communicate with someone who is using an entirely different language much more easily. The key to this is that all of the translation is being done on device.
iOS 14 contains a significant number of changes and many of them that cannot be covered, but you can see the list on the iOS Preview page. Next, let us look at iPadOS.
Last year Apple separated out the iPad into its own operating system. When this was announced it was expected that the iPad would get some of its own features, and that has come to fruition with iPadOS 14. iPadOS 14 includes changes around the Apple Pencil and handwriting. Handwriting has been significantly enhanced with iPadOS 14. You are now able to write just about anywhere and when you do, it will be automatically converted to typed text, with a feature called Scribble.
iPadOS will now be able to use a new feature called Scribble. Scribble allows you to write something in a text box and it will automatically convert it to text, so you can begin searching. Additionally, you can select any hand-written text and you will be able to copy it as text so you can paste into other applications. Handwriting and Scribble will also be able to detect many different types of data, like addresses and phone numbers, and provide you the ability to easily tap on them.
One of the things that you usually cannot do with handwritten text is manipulating the writing. That changes under iPadOS 14. Now you can select text from a single character, to a word, or to an entire paragraph with your Apple Pencil and then copy and paste it into another application.
One of the largest changes for iPadOS is that some elements no longer cover the entire screen. This is true for both Siri, voice calls, and Spotlight. For Siri, the icon is now in the lower right corner. For voice calls, you will now see a small notification alert at the top of the screen. You can swipe it away to dismiss it, or you can answer it right there. For Spotlight, the search window has become very much like macOS. When you swipe from the top, you will see a popover that has a Search, Siri Suggestions, and any Handoff activities.
You can see all of the new feature on the iPadOS preview page.
tvOS is designed for the living room. This does not mean that you do not need to be aware of other things going on. Your Apple TV can be used as your HomeKit hub and because of this, tvOS can now notify you of some things that occur, such as your HomeKit doorbell being rung. When this happens you will see a live view of that, so you can identify who is there. Furthermore, it uses facial recognition from your tagged photos so it can identify people you already know.
One of the biggest areas for HomeKit is smart lights. Now with tvOS 14, your smart lights will be able to automatically adjust their color temperature throughout the day. This means that you will not have blue light showing when you are trying to get ready for bed, but you will be able to have the brighter light during the day.
Apple TV is a great gaming platform, in particular the ability to pair Xbox One and Playstation 4 controllers to the Apple TV. Controller support is expanding to include Microsoft’s Xbox One Elite 2 controller, and more importantly, the Xbox Adaptive Controller will be supported. This change is great for accessibility and including all game players.
Let us turn to the biggest change, macOS.
macOS has been around in its current iteration for almost 20 years. The first version of Mac OS X was released in March of 2001. macOS has seen its share of changes with the Aqua interface, the removal of Carbon-based apps, and ultimately the removal of 32-bit applications, and even the source of names going from big cats to California place names. This year’s release is code-named Big Sur. macOS Big Sur brings a slew of changes including a new sidebar, an all-new Control Center, a revamped Notification Center, and a whole new design language.
The new sidebar that is shown on all apps brings a refined look to macOS that is reminiscent of iOS and iPadOS. In fact many of the designs take the best parts of Apple’s operating systems and combines them into a single design-language. You have more icons shown in the sidebar, along with different colors to help group elements together. Toolbars are redesigned as well. Toolbar icons will generally be along the top of the screen next to the search icon, which is collapsed until you need to use it.
The new Control Center is inspired by iOS and, just as is the case on iOS, you can quickly toggle settings within the system. Some of these include WiFi, Bluetooth, AirDrop, Do Not Disturb, the screen brightness, sound volume, and keyboard brightness. This will make your productivity even faster by eliminating steps that you would normally have to take to change a system setting.
Besides the design, there are some changes to core applications that are used on macOS every day, in particular Messages and Maps. Messages and Maps are now both built on Apple’s technology called MacCatalyst. These new apps will allow you to have complete feature parity between the iOS/iPadOS and macOS versions of the apps. This means that you will be able to see the things like confetti, balloons, and other effects just as on iOS. Furthermore, this also means that any new features that come to Messages will appear on both platforms, which creates a better experience overall.
Maps will also have feature parity with iOS and iPadOS. This includes features like Look Around, the new detailed maps, progress on a friend’s estimated time of arrival, if they have provided one, as well as much more. Some of these include Cycling Directions, electric vehicle charging stations, and curated guides to places.
When you begin to use macOS Big Sur, you will notice that many of the controls are different. The buttons that you have used have all subtly changed and have become more refined. This includes things like icons. App icons are now more rounded, similar to iOS. Even with this, they still remain unique to themselves. There are a large number of changes that are not being covered in this post, because there are too many to cover in a single post.
There is one last big change with macOS Big Sur that needs to be covered. That change is the version number. When Mac OS X was first introduced, it began with Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah. Each new version of macOS changed this. Version 10.1 was Mac OS X 10.1 Puma followed by Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar, Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, and so on, until we got to macOS 10.15 Catalina. macOS Big Sur is now version 11.0. Besides the visual changes, macOS Big Sur also brings with it, another underlying change called Apple Silicon.
All of the macOS features are available on the macOS Big Sur preview page.
Outside of the visual transitions, macOS has undergone a transition from PowerPC to Intel and that transition occurred from 2005 to 2006. macOS is about to undergo another transition. This one from Intel to Apple Silicon. The transition from Intel to ARM is now underway, with the release of Xcode 12 and the ability for developers to begin taking their existing apps and converting them to Apple’s Silicon.
There are many reasons for this transition. The biggest amongst them is that Apple will be able to more tightly integrate the hardware and software for macOS. This means that they will be able to fine tune their silicon to work for macOS as well as bringing new features that macOS has not been able to have, like better battery life, Apple’s integrated graphics processors, and the Secure Enclave.
As with any transition there may be changes that developers will need to make to their apps. Some of these will take some time and if you are not able to complete your code changes, you can rely on the emulation layer, Rosetta 2. This will allow your existing apps to continue running on Macs running on Apple Silicon. One of the biggest tasks performed on macOS is development work. Sometimes this requires you to have more than one operating system install, and this is done with the built-in Virtualization software. This software will take
Developers can apply to be in the Universal Quick Start Program to begin getting their applications ready for the Apple Silicon transition. Apple is anticipating selling its first Apple Silicon-based Mac by the end of the 2020. Furthermore, Apple is expecting the transition to take two years to complete.
This is a big year for Apple overall. iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 bring new features to each of their respective platforms. The biggest change comes with the new version of macOS with the transition from Intel to Apple’s own Silicon.
The features I have highlighted only scratch the surface of new features that are available in all of the new operating systems. Some topics have been skipped entirely, like enhancements to Car Play and the ability to use your iPhone as a car key, which will also be coming to iOS 13.
The developer betas of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, watchOS 7, and macOS 11.0 are available today. There will be public betas of each of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and new this year, watchOS, will be available next month.