Apple made a raft of announcements at its WWDC 2019 event, previewing new features for its platform and highlighting its privacy credentials.
Generating a significant amount of headlines was the demise of iTunes on the Mac platform, although in reality Apple is just unbundling features into three separate apps focused on music, podcasts and TV. Another feature of iTunes, synchronisation of mobile devices, moves to the standard Mac Finder.
“iTunes started completely focused: rip, mix and burn songs on your Mac. And then came the iTunes Music Store, kicking-off the digital music revolution. And then it took on podcasts and it redesigned radio. And then video, introducing us to on-demand movies and ad-free TV. And if that weren’t enough, it also handled all you syncing, making possible the first iPod and iPhone”, said Craig Federighi, SVP of software engineering (pictured).
Sign In with Apple
Apple unveiled what it tagged a “more private way to simplify and quickly sign-in to apps and websites”.
Federighi noted the information requested for app log-ins, which could include linking to social profiles from Facebook or Google for example, enables customisation, but “at the price of your privacy”.
“Your personal information sometimes gets shared behind the scenes and these logins can be used to track you. So we wanted to solve this, and many developers do too.”
Instead of using a social account, filling out forms, verifying email addresses or choosing passwords, users can use an Apple ID to authenticate, with the company then providing developers with a unique random ID to shield personal information.
In cases where customers are asked for names and email addresses, there will be an option to keep the latter private with Apple generating an exclusive address instead.
The company said that in addition to limiting the amount of personal data shared with developers, “Apple does not use Sign In with Apple to profile users or their activity in apps”.
iOS 13 preview
Apple said the next release of its iOS platform introduces “a dramatic new look for iPhone with Dark Mode, and new ways to browse and edit photos, sign-in to apps and websites, and navigate the world with an all-new map”.
Dark Mode is a system-wide colour scheme which works across native apps and is available to third-party software, said to deliver an improved viewing experience especially in low light environments. It can be scheduled to turn on automatically at certain times.
Using on-device machine learning, the Photos app now curates libraries to highlight the best images, hiding clutter and similar photos, and showcasing past events. New editing tools are also available, which have been extended to video editing.
Apple Maps is updated to deliver broader road coverage, better pedestrian data, more precise addresses and more detailed landcover. The updated map is available now in selected US cities and states, will rollout across the nation by end-2019, and to more countries in 2020.
A number of updates have also been made to core applications including Reminders; Messages; Voice Control; Siri; and Health.
Apple is now positioning the platform powering its iPad as a separate proposition to iOS, stating this recognises “the distinctive experience” of the tablet.
It said iPadOS builds on the same foundation as iOS, with new capabilities and features specific to the large screen device. This includes new ways to work with apps in multiple windows, more information at a glance via a redesigned home screen, and more natural ways to use Apple Pencil.
The new version of Apple’s smartwatch platform delivers features to manage health and fitness, with new dynamic watch faces and direct App Store access.
A new Cycle Tracking app gives women the ability to log menstrual information, which will also be supported by the Health app on iOS13 iPhones. A Noise app is also included in watchOS 6, enabling users to understand sound levels in environments which could negatively impact hearing.
With direct access to the App Store, owners of Apple Watch can search for and install apps without the need to use another Apple device. Developers can also build Watch-only apps, created to work without the need for an iOS counterpart.
Apple also previewed macOS Catalina, the new version of its computer platform. In addition to the replacement of iTunes with separate apps, it also includes a Sidecar feature enabling users to expand their desktops to use an iPad as second display or high-precision input device.
Also available are new APIs and tools for developers making it “incredibly easy” to bring iPad apps to the Mac.
A new version of the company’s TV platform, tvOS 13, was also shown, which it described as “the easiest and most personalised entertainment device for enjoying TV shows, movies, music, photos, games and apps on the biggest screen in the home”.
It features a new Home screen; perosnalised multi-user access to content; support for a planned Apple Arcade subscription games service; expanded game controller compatibility; and new 4K HDR screen savers.
Apple took the wraps off a new high-end Mac, the $5,999 Mac Pro, designed for maximum performance, expansion and configurability, targeting “pros who push the limits of what a Mac can do”.
Also new is Pro Display XDR, a 32-inch 6K screen priced $4,999.