Alex has been writing for MacStories since 2013. These days he mostly covers Apple events and authors the annual MacStories watchOS reviews. Alongside writing, Alex is the developer of Storybot — the MacStories Slack bot — and a senior cloud engineer at ScoreSide.
YouTube stars Patrick Starrr and Desi Perkins joined forces with Apple to create a makeup tutorial video using only this year’s huge iOS 13 Memoji update. The new Memoji appear to be massively more customizable, and can be used to create Bitmoji-like stickers. Starrr and Perkins’ video premiered during Apple’s WWDC keynote address, and you can watch it below.
We’ll have more on the new Memoji updates and all of the changes coming in iOS 13 later today.
At this year’s WWDC keynote address, Apple dropped the first trailer for their upcoming Apple Original drama series For All Mankind. The series will follow an alternate timeline in which the space race never ended, and is set to premier this fall.
We’re actively at work on in-depth coverage for all of today’s announcements, and will be reporting on any additional news that trickles out in the coming days as WWDC 2019 continues.
Apple kicked off this year’s WWDC keynote address with a black and white video of developers hard at work in the middle of the night. The video, titled Goodnight Developers, showed a variety of iOS developers struggling and eventually succeeding in getting their apps to build. Check out the video below.
Six years ago I was a senior in high school – a laughably short timeline compared to the immensity of growth and change which took place within it. Graduation, all of college, and a lonely move across the country; a career imagined, pursued, and achieved; friends and relationships come and gone. Not many threads of life make it all the way from the start of your late teens through the end of your early twenties, but those that do feel special in a way not much else can. MacStories is one of mine.
This morning at Apple’s special event in the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park, Vice President of Apple Pay Jennifer Bailey took the stage to announce Apple Card. These “Apple” name prefixes are growing tedious, but Apple Card is looking to reduce the tedium which permeates the credit card industry. Apple is championing its credit card as a new industry leader in a variety of areas, including privacy, security, transparency, lack of fees, and fair interest rates. Apple Card gives rewards in cash rather than points, and these “Daily Cash” rewards are distributed to your Apple Cash account every day. If Apple Card can deliver on its promises, it shows real potential to be a disruptor in the often exploitative credit card industry.
As usual, Apple scattered facts, figures, and statistics throughout the keynote today. Here are highlights of some of the statistics revealed during the event held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House.
This morning Tim Cook took the stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House to announce a brand new revision of the MacBook Air. This is the first significant redesign in years for Apple’s most popular line of Macs, and features huge improvements across the board.
The new machine marks the debut of a Retina display on the MacBook Air, which Cook said has been the most requested feature by far. Among other changes, the size and weight of the enclosure have also been decreased, two Thunderbolt 3 ports line one edge, screen bezels have been reduced, and new color options are available.
watchOS had a bumpy first few years. Some poor decisions and perhaps a premature initial launch forced significant design changes to be in order right away. It wasn’t until last year’s watchOS 4 release that it finally felt like the waters had calmed. Apple seemed to have solidified the brunt of its focus around fitness and audio, while also debuting a healthy backdrop of first-party apps, new watch faces, and machine learning features. The Siri watch face was the big addition for both of those last two categories, and while its initial introduction was underwhelming, the ideas behind it were intriguing. The redesigned Workout and Music apps along with background audio during workouts were excellent additions to the Apple Watch’s core foundation. All things considered, Apple pushed a great update last year, and it only got better as the year progressed.
While it didn’t ship in time for watchOS 4’s launch in September, streaming from Apple Music was released late the next month in watchOS 4.1. The ability to stream music in the background during workouts freed runners and other athletes from being tied to their phones while they exercised. Paired with the redesigned Workout app – which put live statistics front and center while keeping Now Playing and workout controls just a swipe away – watchOS 4 established a truly better fitness experience for Apple’s smartwatch.
The audio story that Apple told last year felt much less complete. Despite receiving a significant amount of attention in Apple’s marketing efforts, the Apple Watch’s music improvements seemed almost strictly geared toward workouts. Background audio was limited to workout apps and withheld from the platform as a whole, the first-party Now Playing screen continued to monopolize possession of volume controls, and the Music app only gave manual access to preselected songs instead of the full music library on your iPhone1. Audio on the Apple Watch had received some strong improvements, but the scope of those positive consequences felt unnecessarily limited.
Thankfully, Apple seems to agree. This year’s watchOS 5 update, released today for all Apple Watches Series 1 and later, fills in the gaps of the watchOS audio feature set. Third-party audio apps can now run in the background, and full audio controls including volume adjustment via the Digital Crown have been made available to them. watchOS 5 also introduces the first-party Podcasts app, which supports automatic syncing of new episodes that you’re subscribed to and streaming of any show in the iTunes podcast directory.
Beyond audio, watchOS 5 also builds on the solid fitness foundation with activity competitions, expanded Workout types, automatic workout detection, and advanced running statistics. Siri has continued to receive attention as well, introducing third-party integrations to the Siri watch face and a raise-to-speak feature which truncates the inveterate “Hey Siri” prefix for the first time on any platform. A new Walkie-Talkie app marks the first return to novelty Apple Watch communication methods since Digital Touch, but this time I think Apple might have tapped into a legitimate, albeit niche use case. Top things off with improved notifications, the introduction of web content, and NFC-powered student ID cards and we have a substantial watchOS update on our hands.
This morning at Apple’s annual September event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Apple Park, Jeff Williams took the stage to announce the Apple Watch Series 4. The new Watch lineup boasts larger and thinner chassis, more than 30% larger displays with rounded corners, a breakthrough ECG sensor, and more.
This is the first major change to the shape of the Watch’s enclosure since the debut of the original Apple Watch, but thankfully Apple has maintained compatibility with existing watch bands. The new models will be sold in 40mm and 44mm varieties, each size 2mm larger than the 38mm and 42mm of previous generations. Stainless steel and aluminum varieties are offered as usual, but it looks like we’ve seen the end of the “Edition” Apple Watch line.
On the software side, the larger Apple Watch models are launching with a swath of new watch faces. Many of these faces take advantage of the new increased screen size by allowing a greater number of complications than we’ve seen on any face before. According to Apple the entire operating system has been revamped to take advantage of the new screen with its curved edges. These changes will ship in watchOS 5 on the new Series 4 Watch. There’s no word yet on whether all or any of the new faces will make appearances on older models of Apple Watch – they have not been included in any watchOS 5 beta builds thus far.