APPLE released a smarter Siri and a Messages app to take on Facebook Messages and Snapchat’s filters in a swag of new features unveiled today.
Apple CEO Tim Cook began the WWDC keynote in San Francisco with a moment of tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting, before beginning a whirlwind list of new software features.
Apple fans hoping for new hardware today were disappointed but there were major changes to the operating systems for Macintosh computers, iPhone and iPad, Apple TV and Apple Watch.
A smarter Siri was at the heart of many of the changes, and Apple opened up Siri to the developing world so that it will work better with third-party apps.
Cook summed up the significance of the development community to Apple. There are now two million apps in the App Store, which have been downloaded 130 billion times, with US$50 billion ($67 billion) paid to developers.
Apple Watch apps finally will become more usable, with a new control centre to make it easier to switch between apps and a new way to open apps seven times faster.
There will be greater integration between Apple devices, such as using your iPhone’s Touch ID to buy things online with your Mac computer and copy and pasting from one Apple device to another.
Along with software changes, Apple announced a free app to encourage children to learn programming.
“We believe that technology should lift humanity,” Cook said.
News of improvements of how apps ran on the Apple Watch was received with cheers by the crowd of developers at WWDC in San Francisco, with the promise of Apple Watch OS3 making apps seven times faster to open.
Other improvements to the Watch operating system includes a new control centre, a more simple way to respond to text messages and new Watch faces.
The biggest change to the Watch is the ability to swipe between open apps in the way similar to using apps on the iPhone.
Kevin Lynch, one of the key figures behind Apple Watch, announced a new SOS feature in the watch which automatically calls an emergency number and sends a text message with your location to your emergency contacts.
To activate the emergency call, you hit and hold the button on the side of the Watch.
The fitness element of the Apple Watch also gets a makeover under the new operating system, with a new feature where you compete with family and friends on number of steps taken, calories burnt or minutes of exercise.
There is also a new fitness app called Breathe, designed to encourage people to decrease stress by daily sessions of deep breathing.
The new version of Watch OS is being released in spring.
Changes to Apple TV, including a new remote app for the iPhone and improvements to the search function through Siri.
Craig Federighi, Apple Vice President of software engineering, announced a list of changes to the Mac operating system, including the new name of Mac OS Sierra, and new key features:
* Universal copy and paste between Apple devices.
* Accessing your Mac desktop across Apple devices.
* Using Apple Pay on the Web, with Touch ID on the iPhone to confirm the purchase.
* Automatically logging on to your Mac using your Apple Watch.
* Siri on the Mac.
Mac OS Sierra will be released in spring.
New operating system
Apple also announced a new operating system for the iPhone and iPad, iOS 10, which will include modifiable “widgets” that let you add information from apps to the phone’s lock screen.
In a sign that Apple is moving to meet the challenge of Amazon and Google’s advanced digital assistants, Federighi said Siri would have new features and developers would now be able to add Siri functionality to their apps.
Improved photo system
Organising your family photos should become easier with face recognition and scene recognition added to the photo albums on the iPhone, enabling you to search for a person or part of a scene, like a dog that was in the photo or a mountain that was in the background.
The Photos app gets a new section called Memories, which combines photos and videos together with music into small videos that can be shared.
Maps is also getting a revamp, including better suggestions on where you might want to go and the ability to pan ahead on your map to see upcoming traffic problems and service stations on your route.
Apple Music “redesigned”
Apple has “redesigned (Apple Music) from the ground up”. The Library section shows the music downloaded on the iPhone while the Connect section, which lets you follow artists, is incorporated into a For You section which also includes recommendations of music to listen to.
The dream of living in the smart home is one more step closer to reality with the new Home app a new one-stop centre for controlling devices, from your garage door to your lighting, so long as they are compatible with the Apple HomeKit standard.
Messages is another app getting a revamp under the new iOS operating system, although Apple did not go so far as the rumoured launch of the iOS messaging on the Android system.
Emoji lovers will appreciate that emojis now come up alongside of text predictions, bigger emojis, and a one-touch suggestion that replace words in a text with a suitable emoji.
You now can add emphasis to a message by making typing bigger or smaller depending on whether you want to yell or whisper, or sending a message or image in “invisible ink” which requires the user to swipe over the message to decode it.
Apple messages are going to look a lot more Snapchat, with the ability to add stickers and text to video and pictures within the Messaging app.
In the aftermath of the high-profile fight between Apple and the FBI earlier this year, Federighi stressed the end-to-end encryption on messaging protecting the user’s privacy.
Apple has fulfilled the dreams of many of its users: you can at last delete those apps you don’t want.
While Apple highlighted the new features of iOS 10 it unveiled at WWDC in San Francisco today, it was only as software developers logged on to a beta version of the operating system that you can at last delete Stocks, Compass and all those other apps that are probably sitting in
your “Annoying Apple apps” folder of your iPhone.
For those of us who are not developers, we will get the feature when iOS 10 is released in the third quarter.
Those apps that have been compulsory up until now will now be in the App Store for those people who want to delete them.
The list of apps that you will soon have a choice to say goodbye to forever include: Stocks, Tips, Watch, Compass, Voice Memos, Reminders and Podcasts.
iOS 10 release
Apple will release the new iOS 10 in Spring, with a public beta in July.
Cook launched a new app called Swift Playground designed to teach children how to code using the programming language Swift.
“We believe coding should be a required language in all schools,” Cook said.