WWDC 2023: 10 takeaways from Apple event

The company announced the latest versions of operating systems for iPhones, iPads, Mac and Apple Watch

Apple chief executive Tim Cook at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference at the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. AFP
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Apple chief executive Tim Cook appeared onstage at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, on Monday to start the five-day Worldwide Developers Conference.

It was followed by pre-recorded presentations with the company’s executives announcing the latest versions of Apple’s operating systems for iPhones, iPads, Mac and Apple Watch.

Developer beta (trial) versions of operating systems are available and a free software update will be available this year.

Apple also unveiled a new MacBook powered by its M2 chip, and a line-up of new technology to help its community of more than 30 million developers design and build new apps.

After the announcements, Apple's share price rose 1.45 per cent to trade at $183.58 at close on Monday. But it dropped more than 2 per cent in after-hours trading.

This is the fourth consecutive year the company organised the annual event online (partly in-person this year and in 2022) since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The National takes a look at 10 technologies and features unveiled at WWDC on Monday.

iOS17 to make iPhones more intuitive

Apple's iOS 17 operating system for iPhones is a major release that upgrades the communications experience across calls, audio and video, and messages.

It makes sharing files easier with new features added to AirDrop and provides more input to improve the speed and accuracy of typing.

“With iOS 17, we have made iPhone more personal and intuitive by deeply considering the features we all rely on every day,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering.

Users can now share passwords with a group of trusted contacts, and everyone in the group can add and edit passwords to keep them up to date.

iPadOS 17 to boost users’ experience

Apple previewed iPadOS 17, which aims to deliver new ways for users to personalise the lock screen and interact with widgets.

To attract more professional users, the company has made working with PDFs simpler with AutoFill technology.

The Health app has also come to the iPad with interactive charts, and HealthKit enables developers to create innovative experiences designed for the iPad display.

In FaceTime, users can now leave an audio or video message when someone does not pick up the call.

watchOS 10 to boost mindfulness

Apple unveiled watchOS 10, bringing users a new approach to view information with redesigned apps.

New metrics, workout views and Bluetooth connectivity for power meters, and speed and cadence sensors have been introduced for cyclists.

With the mindfulness app in watchOS 10, users can log daily moods. They can choose how they are feeling, select what is having the biggest impact on them, and describe their feelings.

“WatchOS 10 is a major milestone and an energising new approach for Apple Watch, introducing a fresh new design for quickly viewing information, delightful new watch faces, new features for cyclists and hikers, and important tools for health,” said Kevin Lynch, Apple’s vice president of technology.

New privacy features to boost users’ confidence

Apple announced its latest privacy and security innovations, including major updates to app privacy, Safari private browsing, communication safety and lockdown mode.

A new embedded photos picker can help users share specific photos with apps while keeping the rest of their library private.

When apps ask to access the entire photo library, users will be shown more information about what they will be sharing.

“We are focused on keeping our users in the driver’s seat when it comes to their data by continuing to provide industry-leading privacy features and the best data security in the world,” said Mr Federighi.

Insights into new areas of health

Apple announced new health features in iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and watchOS 10, expanding into two areas – mental health and vision health.

With new operating systems, it is offering more tools and experiences across platforms.

New mental health features allow users to log their momentary emotions and daily moods, see valuable insights, and easily access assessments and resources.

The iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch will offer new vision health features that encourage healthy behaviour to help reduce the risk of myopia.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook. AFP

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is the leading cause of vision impairment globally.

It is estimated to affect more than 30 per cent of the population and expected to grow to 50 per cent, or 5 billion people, by 2050, said Apple, quoting third-party data.

AirPods redefining personal audio experience

Apple announced new software updates across AirPods that will be introduced in the coming months.

A personalised volume feature will use machine learning to understand environmental conditions and listening preferences over time to automatically fine-tune the users’ experience, Apple said.

The company said that moving between Apple devices with AirPods will be easier with updates to automatic switching features.

For example, it will make it more seamless to move from a podcast on iPhone to a work call on Mac.

More features coming to Apple TV

With tvOS 17, FaceTime will come to Apple TV. It will for the first time let people use the app on their TV with family and friends.

It also introduces a new control centre, along with other enhancements that provide a more personalised experience that works even better with iPhone.

Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headsets during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. Bloomberg

macOS Sonoma for desktops

The company also previewed macOS Sonoma, the latest version of its desktop operating system.

Now users can place widgets right on the desktop, interact with them with just a click and access the ecosystem of iPhone widgets on their Mac.

It also brings enhanced video conferencing features that enable users to present and share their work more effectively.

Adding more offline maps

There will be more offline maps in Maps application, so users can download a specific area and access turn-by-turn navigation.

They will help users to see their estimated time of arrival, find places in Maps, and more while they are offline.

Maps also makes it easier to “discover thousands of trails in parks across the US, and supports electric vehicle drivers with real-time charging availability information", the company said.

Adding more accessibility features

Apple has added a series of updates, including “assistive access”, a customisable interface that helps users with cognitive disabilities to use iPhone.

Then there is “live speech”, which gives non-speaking users the option to type and have their words spoken in person or on phone, and “personal voice”, which gives users at risk of speech loss the option to create a voice that sounds like theirs.

"Point and speak” helps users who are blind or have low vision to read text on physical objects by pointing.

Updated: June 06, 2023, 8:35 AM