At WWDC, Apple did what many expected by updating its various platforms. There’s a lot to unwrap, and a lot of things that will be very new to users and developers alike. Here’s what’s new for iOS, watchOS, macOS and tvOS.
With tvOS, Apple’s WWDC keynote was light on details. Save for Amazon Prime coming to Apple TV – which will work with the TV app – there just wasn’t much to note. A separate June 6 session, titled “Advances in TVMLKit” (Session 202, 11:20am, Grand Ballroom B if you’re on-site), will discuss right-to-left support for localization and performance optimization techniques, as well as enhancements in the Web Inspector.
Apple’s desktop operating system, macOS, will soon be named “High Sierra.” It’s a clever way for the company to designate this year as an ‘iterative’ edition rather than introducing a bunch of new features. The big takeaway from High Sierra is VR, which Apple is finally concentrating on. It’s making a point to position VR on macOS as a developer feature rather than a gamer’s paradise. It’s working with Valve, Unity and others to bring VR-ready development tools to the Mac.
Because VR can consume lots of resources, macOS will now support external GPUs. Any Mac with a Thunderbolt 3 connection can take advantage of external GPUs. Apple also has a $599 kit available for developers that has an enclosure, AMD Radeon RX 580 GPU, USB-C hub and a discount for an HTC Vive.
Safari will now block video from playing automatically, and has been stripped of cross-site scripting data so you won’t have to worry about ads following you around.
watchOS is getting a new Siri face, which is basically a sort of contextual assistant on your wrist. Siri already monitors your appointments and activity, and the new watch face will feed you upcoming events in a card-based format. The other changes relate mostly to exercise. New Apple Watch hardware, scheduled to be released this Fall, will have an NFC chip capable of communicating with some gym equipment, and the Workout app interface has changed.
The biggest platform, iOS, is headlined by augmented reality (AR). ARKit will help developers create mobile AR experiences regardless of the type of app they have. So long as projecting digital sprites on real-world surfaces on a phone screen makes sense, Apple is allowing it.
A new AirPlay 2 API will allow developers to create multi-speaker streaming experiences, and the control center is now a full-screen experience that can be customized. Portrait Mode is also being opened up via a Depth API that allows developers to get access to the depth mapping file that iOS saves each time a user takes a Portrait Mode photo.
Siri is also changing. A new voice ushers in an era of more contextual learning, where Siri will use on-device learning and encrypted communications with search servers to learn more about what you like and do. Visually, Siri will also offer follow-up questions in Spotlight Search.
This Machine Learning has new a new API that allows developers to ‘port’ many popular existing machine learning libraries for use with iOS apps. This porting tool is also being open-sourced.
These are platform-specific changes, but there’s a lot more going on. Apple Music now has an API for developers to implement, which Apple thinks is a great fit for fitness apps. The App Store is being completely redesigned to look more like the Music and News apps, and will now be split into three categories: Today, Games and Apps. Apps will also have a vibrant new page that serves more as a destination point than a point of reference for apps, and that’s a great thing for developers.