Today Apple announced that they will be holding their annual World Wide Developer Conference, or WWDC, again this year. The theme for this year is “Glow and Behold”. WWDC21 will be held in an all-online format starting June 7th and going through June 11th. Apple’s WWDC20 was also held in an all-online format. While last year’s was due to Covid-19, and the reluctance to gather so many people in one place, there has been no mention as to why Apple is having an all-online conference.
Even though there is no mention for the reason, the all-online format is somewhat better for all developers because everyone can see the exact same sessions as the same time and there is no lottery for tickets, no rushing to be the first, and just like WWDC20, this is a free conference which provides more accessibility for all developers to attend. Everyone can see the same conference no matter where in the world they are.
Swift Student Challenge
Just as was the case last year, there is a “Swift Student Challenge”. The Swift Student Challenge, an opportunity for young developers to demonstrate their coding skills by creating a Swift playground, is now accepting submissions. These submissions are due by April 18th and all of the information, including the application to apply, can be found on the Swift Student Challenge website.
Some of the requirements for the application are:
To be eligible for the Challenge, you must:
Be 13 years of age or older, or the equivalent minimum age in the relevant jurisdiction (for example, 16 years of age in the European Union);
Be registered for free with Apple as an Apple developer or be a member of the Apple Developer Program; and
Fulfill one of the following requirements:
Be enrolled in an accredited academic institution or official homeschool equivalent;
Be enrolled in a STEM organization’s educational curriculum;
Be enrolled in an Apple Developer Academy; or
Have graduated from high school or equivalent within the past 6 months and be awaiting acceptance or have received acceptance to an accredited academic institution.
Apple will be releasing more information in the next couple of months. As has become my tradition, I will be making predictions of what we might see at WWDC once it is closer to the start of WWDC.
As has become a tradition, I make predictions about what Apple will announced at their World Wide Developer Conference. You can see those predictions on this post. Along with the prediction results, I do have some thoughts about the new format for this all virtual conference. But first, here are the results of those predictions.
Messages on Mac same as iOS — 95%
I was right on this prediction. Messages on macOS is now a Mac Catalyst app. This means that they are the same application with the same features across iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.
New health-related task on watchOS — 75%
This is also correct. There is sleep tracking available on watchOS 7. I am sure this has been the most requested feature for watchOS.
App List view on iPadOS — 70%/App List view on iPhone — 60%
This was not announced. There is a new App Library option, but it is not a list view, instead it is a grid of your applications that are grouped together.
macOS being one of the names listed — 65%
The macOS name has indeed named one of my guesses. In fact it is named macOS Big Sur. I guess Apple’s marketing team ‘drug-fueled minibus-driven vision quests’.
Transition to ARM being announced — 50%
Yes, Apple did indeed announce the transition to their own Apple Silicon, which is based on ARM.
Improvement to Controls on Mac Catalyst — 50%
There were improvements with controls on Mac Catalyst, so this on is correct as well.
Third-party Watch Faces — 25%
This was not announced. There is the ability to share watch faces, but you cannot have full third-party watch faces.
ARM Dev Kit available for order — 5%
Despite giving it a low possibility, there is a Developer Transition Kit available for developers. This Developer Transition Kit is not representative of what Apple will release with its Apple Silicon. The specifications for this transition kit are:
Apple A12Z Bionic Processor
16GB of Memory
512GB of SSD Storage
Two USB-C ports (up to 10Gbps)
Two USB-A ports (up to 5Gbps)
You are able to apply for the Developer Transition Kit. However, one thing to remember is that you are renting this transition kit in order to develop your apps on Apple Silicon. You are not allowed to keep the device. There is a fee for the transition kit, $500 USD. You can apply on the Developer website. To quote the Apple developer website:
As part of the program, you’ll have limited access to a Developer Transition Kit (DTK), which will be shipped to you, for developing and testing your Universal apps. The DTK is owned by Apple and must be returned.
Double base iCloud Storage — 5%
I was incorrect about this one. There has been no change to iCloud Storage, although I still think there should be.
I only got 60% correct, which is not too bad for only having 10 predictions. I do have some thoughts about the WWDC format, so let us dive into that next.
Thoughts on WWDC 2020 Format
When Apple announced an online-only WWDC for this year, due to Covid 19. No one was 100% sure what to expect, myself included. We were expecting a Keynote, State of the Union session, and session videos. Due to Covid-19, we could not expect an audience and I think Apple did a pretty good job for the videos.
While the Keynote and State of the Union sessions were streamed, the remaining days of videos have been released at 10 am. Pacific Time on each day. While this worked for me, being in the US Central Time, I am sure it did not work for others, who may be on the other side of the world. I understand Apple’s choice here. To maintain some semblance of an in-person conference, they chose a time close to the usual time of starting the conference. It might be good if they either changed the time to earlier, say maybe 8 am Pacific Time, or released a couple of batches of videos throughout the day.
Last year with the conference being in-person, many of the sessions needed to be between 35 minutes and an hour. This is because you had people to move between sessions and they needed enough time to get to the next session. With a completely virtual conference, this is not necessary. Instead, Apple is able to have a video be just as long as it needs to. There are some videos that are still 45 minutes, or longer. A couple of these are Introduction to SwiftUI, Port your Mac app to Apple Silicon, and What’s new with in-app purchase. However, most videos are around 30 minutes, with some being as short as 8 or 9 minutes. Furthermore, the various lengths have also allowed the extraneous things that would have been required in years past to not be included, like coding demos. There are still some coding demos in some of the videos, but it is significantly fewer videos that have full coding sessions.
I think these various length for videos makes it easier for developers to be able to find what they are looking for instead of having to search through an entire session to find one snippet. For myself, I think I have gotten through watching more videos in a shorter amount of time, which means I can get started on my books that much sooner.
The last tidbit I will mention about the WWDC videos is that I do enjoy seeing the different areas of Apple Park. It is entirely possible that everything was done with green screens and that we are not actually seeing places where these videos were recorded. Even if that is the case, it is nice to see different areas of Apple Park, particularly since many of us will never be able to see them for ourselves.
Even though I likely would not have gone to WWDC myself, the change to the videos is quite nice. I hope that Apple is willing to either move the entire conference to be virtual, which does create a consistent experience for all developers. If they were to go back to an in-person conference, it would be good to see some sort of hybrid, maybe fewer sessions, or more pre-recorded videos. I really do enjoy having the various length videos, it has helped me get to exactly what I need to watch instead of watching an entire session’s video.
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.
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.
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.
2020 has provided a lot of change to what we might have expected. A vast majority of the world has had to quarantine or shelter in place and due to Covid-19. Because of this, many things have been interrupted and/or delayed. Some of these delays has likely included Apple’s development of their operating systems and platforms.
One of the items has been Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference itself. Typically WWDC occurs the first or second week of June at the San Diego Convention Center. That is not occurring. Instead, WWDC is a fully virtual conference.
Even with all of this uncertainty, there are some things that are guaranteed. Some of the guaranteed items include seeing information about the next version of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. So, the fact that these will be shown, none of them are within my guesses.
Initially I was only going to do my “Hopes for Improvement” post, but I have decided to an actual predictions post as well. Normally, I would have a bunch of predictions, but this year I do not have that many, or at least not as many as other years. This year I will be breaking my guesses down by platform. There are only 10 total.
There is one thing that I actually enjoy predicting each year. That item is the name of the next version of macOS. With Apple using California place names, I think it will be one of the following:
Oxnard (for the Dunes)
I am giving the percentage of one of these names being used at 65%. I will not be surprised if I am entirely wrong, because my guesses have not been accurate in the past.
I think we will see some improvements with MacCatalyst. Specifically, improved options for controls. I give this a 50% chance of happening.
Next is Messages. I am guessing that Messages on the Mac will become a Catalyst app and will have feature parity with iOS. I give this a 95% chance of happening.
Transition to ARM
There has been much talk about Apple moving away from Intel and using their own ARM-based chips. I think that this transition will be announced and I give it a 50% chance of being announced.
Furthermore, I am giving a 5% chance of an actual device being available for developers to order. I would love it to be the case. I would even be willing to pay full price, provided I get to keep the device.
The iPad is a device that could use a significant improvement to some of its features. I think we will see some changes to the way the home screen functions. The home screen has been a grid since the original iPhone. The grid on the iPhone makes sense, but on the iPad, much more can be done. I think there will be a new list view option, similar to the Apple Watch. I am giving this a 70% possibility. I am also thinking this will come to the iPhone, and give this a 60% chance of happening.
I think we will see additional health-related items on watchOS. This could be something like a new workout type, or more likely sleep tracking. I give this a 75% chance of occurring.
The second item for watchOS is the ability for third-party watch faces with a new framework. This will allow third-parties to create and customize various aspects of the watch face. I am giving this a 25% probability of happening.
I think we will see an announcement that the base iCloud storage will be doubled to 10GB instead of the measly and paltry 5GB available now. I give this a 5% chance of happening. I would like to give this a higher chance, but I do not think Apple will do increase it, but there is always a chance.
I do not have that many predictions for this year’s WWDC announcements. Here is a recap of my predictions:
Messages on Mac same as iOS — 95%
New health-related task on watchOS — 75%
App List view on iPadOS — 70%
macOS being one of the names listed — 65%
App List view on iPhone — 60%
Transition to ARM being announced — 50%
Mac Catalyst controls update — 50%
Third-party Watch Faces — 25%
ARM Dev Kit available for order — 5%
Double base iCloud Storage — 5%
The keynote for WWDC 2020 will be airing tomorrow at 10:00am Pacific Time on June 22nd. I will have a recap of the keynote after it has finished.
Today Apple unveiled the some details about their annual World Wide Developer Conference, or WWDC. Previously, Apple announced that the conference would be all digital. At the time, the did not provide many details except that there would be a Keynote and a State of the Union. Today we received some more details. Let us look at a few different areas, including Keynote, Videos, Labs, and Developer Forums.
As expected there will be a keynote streaming at 10:00 am Pacific Time on Monday, June 22nd. This will be streaming from Apple Park, instead of the San Jose convention center. You will be able to stream it via the Apple Developer app, the Apple Developer website, the Apple TV app, and YouTube. If you are within China, you will be able to stream it via China, the keynote will also stream on Tencent, iQIYI, Bilibili, and Youku.
Platforms State of the Union
While the main WWDC Keynote is done at a developer-focused conference, it is also designed to be a main-stream announcement. The main keynote does not go in-depth. That is reserved for the Platforms State of the Union. If you have not watched or attended the Platforms State of the Union keynote, you can think of it as the developer-focused keynote. This will be available on-demand at 2pm pacific time on June 22nd. This keynote will be streamed via the Apple Developer app and the Apple Developer website. For those within China, you can get the video from encent, iQIYI, Bilibili, and YouKu.
Because WWDC 2020 is virtual conference, you may be wondering how the sessions will be handled. When WWDC is held in-person, these are presented throughout each day of the conference. These sessions are recorded and typically available the next day. Because of the virtual nature of this year’s WWDC, all of the day’s videos will be available starting at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. There will be over 100 session videos, and these will be available using the Apple Developer app on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, as well as on the Apple Developer website.
One of the big reasons to attend WWDC is to be able to talk one-on-one with Apple’s developers in one of the labs. This is important for some because they are able to talk directly to the engineers who build the frameworks and they can help you figure out a knotty problem and you can help them find bugs in the frameworks. These will be available by appointment only and will be open to Apple Developer Program members as space is available.
One of the resources that developers have, but may not utilize as much are the developer forums. These forums are vital during a beta period because developers can work with other developers to try and figure out problems, or get clarifications, with Apple’s software. From the announcement:
The all-new Apple Developer Forums will connect the developer community with more than 1,000 Apple engineers to answer questions and engage in technical discussions. Starting the first day of WWDC, anyone can search and view the forum discussions to follow along, and Apple Developer Program members will be able to post their own questions and learn directly from Apple experts.
The new developers forms will be coming on June 18th.
For a vast majority of developers the only difference between this year’s WWDC and previous years is that the videos will be dropping all at once. I do feel bad for those who were really looking forward to attending WWDC in person, as it is a time for people to get together, and create relationships with other Apple developers.
It has been said quite often as of late, but we live in interesting times and I think Apple is doing the best it can with the present situation. You can keep up with announcements via the Apple Developer App and the Apple Developer Website. I will try to do a predictions/hopes post before the Keynote. I will also have a recap about what Apple announces at WWDC 2020.