Echoes of the past were woven throughout Apple’s announcement that it is transitioning the Mac from Intel-based chips to its own architecture. During the keynote yesterday, Senior Vice President of Hardware Technologies Johny Srouji kicked things off by explaining the balance between performance and power consumption, something that drove the transition to Intel chips nearly 15 years go. Then, Craig Federighi introduced Universal 2 and Rosetta 2, software solutions that originated with the transition to Intel Macs.
It would be a mistake to conclude that the transition to Apple Silicon will be just like the last switch, though. The computing world is very different from 2006, and so is Apple’s lineup of products. The transition carries the promise of powerful, low-power Macs, but it also foreshadows a fundamental change in the relationship among Apple’s platforms that began with the introduction of Mac Catalyst, SwiftUI, and related initiatives. Where precisely these changes lead is not entirely clear yet, but one thing is for certain: the Mac is changing dramatically.
Yesterday, I covered macOS 11.0, known as Big Sur, which is as much a part of this transition as the Mac’s new system-on-a-chip (SoC) will be. Today, however, it’s worth taking a closer look at the hardware that was announced. It won’t be available to consumers until later this year, and the transition is expected to take two years. However, within a week or so, developers will begin receiving test kits that will allow them to start working on supporting the new hardware when the new Macs start shipping.
Apple’s audio products – especially AirPods and AirPods Pro – are becoming major players in the company’s product ecosystem, and as a result it’s no surprise that new features for these products were announced at WWDC. Easily my favorite audio announcement was automatic switching between devices, but there’s a lot of other great audio news too: spatial audio on AirPods Pro, third-party music services on HomePod, audio sharing on tvOS, headphone accommodations, and more.
Apple announced a lot of new software improvements during yesterday’s WWDC keynote, but time was short and one major platform didn’t receive its own segment: tvOS 14. Apple announced new tvOS features as part of its discussion of the home, but fortunately that doesn’t mean the latest Apple TV software release is light on improvements. In addition to features like HomeKit integration, new controller support, and improved Picture in Picture, tvOS 14 will offer a variety of other important updates when it launches this fall.
“We hope to build a lot of great products that bring customers a lot of joy every year,” he says. “But in the fullness of time, in the scope of hundreds of years from now, I think the place where I hope people can look back and talk about the places where Apple made a huge contribution to humanity is in helping people see the way of taking advantage of this great technology without the false tradeoff of giving up their privacy to do it.”
Grothaus highlights several new privacy features throughout his piece, all of which will arrive this fall in Apple’s new batch of software releases. One especially interesting feature is called Approximate Location:
With this option, an app will never know the precise spot you’re at. Instead, it will learn the general area, which is often enough to provide the same level of service without intruding on your privacy to the same degree. To achieve the “approximate location” feature, Apple divided the entire planet into regions roughly 10 square miles in size. Each region has its own name and boundaries, and the area of the region is not based on a radius from the user–it’s fixed. That means that an app can’t extrapolate your precise location from approximate location data, because you aren’t necessarily at the center point of that approximate location boundary.
In a packed, fast-moving keynote, it was noteworthy that Apple dedicated an entire segment of the presentation to privacy. The company ships new privacy features annually, and considering its stated focus on future centuries, it shows no signs of letting up any time soon.
It was a big day for the Mac. At WWDC’s opening keynote, Apple announced that the platform will transition to Apple-designed chips dubbed Apple Silicon. That switch was highly anticipated, and I’ll cover it in a separate story tomorrow. What was a bigger surprise, though, was the complete makeover of macOS that was revealed.
The latest version of macOS, which has been incremented to version 11.0 and is known as Big Sur, ushers in a new design language that reduces chrome and takes cues from aspects of iPadOS. The design changes to macOS weren’t the only big change announced today, though. Safari got what Apple describes as its biggest update ever, which includes under-the-hood performance enhancements, design tweaks, and all-new features. Big Sur will gain many of the features coming to iOS and iPadOS, too, bringing feature parity across platforms to more apps than ever.
Today Apple detailed the next major versions of its two most popular computing platforms: iOS and iPadOS 14. While the list of new features in these releases may not be as long as in some years, each update nonetheless has a lot to offer. From Home screen enhancements to tons of app upgrades spanning nearly every system app, plus the new Translate app and Siri improvements, Apple Pencil handwriting features, emoji search (finally!) and more, the iPhone and iPad are being refined this year in a variety of ways.
Here’s our in-depth overview of all the most important updates.
It’s WWDC week, and while we’ve been deprived the pleasure of meeting up in person this year, Apple’s OS updates are rolling forward like always. In this morning’s keynote address, Apple VP of Technology Kevin Lynch announced the latest version of the Apple Watch operating system. watchOS 7 isn’t as dramatic as some past releases have been, but it does introduce some excellent new features including sleep tracking, multiple distinct complications from the same app, a Shortcuts app, and new workout types. We’ll dive into all the features in depth below.
Every time Apple holds a keynote event, the company shares a variety of numbers related to things like user counts for certain products, software performance improvements, and customer satisfaction. With the company announcing the future of key platforms like iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS, there was unsurprisingly a lot of data mentioned at today’s WWDC event.
We’ve collected some of the most interesting numbers shared on-stage during the keynote and on Apple’s product pages:
iOS and iPad OS
Siri knows 20 times more facts than 3 years ago
Messages has seen a 40% increase in messages sent and a 2x increase in group messages
Memoji include over 20 new headwear and hairstyles
There are 3 new Memoji stickers: hug, fist bump, and blush
There are over 1 million apps designed for the iPad
There has been a 1000x GPU performance improvement from the first to most recent iPad Pro
There are over 20,000 Apple Watch apps
The Workout app has been renamed Fitness and has added 3 new exercises (Dance, Core, and Functional Strength
The Mac and macOS
Safari on the Mac is 50% faster than Chrome at loading frequently visited websites
The Mac Developer Transition Kit includes
an A12Z processor
The Mac transition to Apple Silicon will take 2 years
All The Rest
There are now 23 million developers
CarPlay is available in 97% of US cars and 80% of cars worldwide
Users have created 200 million Sign In with Apple accounts
Kayak says its users are 2 times more likely to sign up with Sign In with Apple
Apple has shipped 2 billion Apple-designed systems on a chip
Despite moving to an online format this year, Apple kicked off WWDC as usual with a keynote announcing details on the latest versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and more. This year’s keynote brought a bunch of big announcements and some surprises too, like ARM Macs, a redesigned macOS, iOS and iPadOS widgets, the App Library, App Clips, new Pencil and AirPods features, watchOS face sharing, sleep tracking, and new workouts, and a lot more.
The full keynote video is available now on Apple’s website, Apple’s TV app, and in its Developer app. If you missed the live stream or want to re-watch certain segments you’ve got more ways to do that than ever before.