Weekend Roundup: Apple WWDC; Facebook Smart Watch?

It’s the weekend! Before you shut down your computer and head outside (It’s hot out there! Drink fluids!), let’s review some of the week’s big stories, including Apple’s WWDC and rumors of a Facebook smart watch.

Facebook’s Smart Watch

Undeterred by critics’ complaints about its privacy policies, Facebook is reportedly intent on selling a smartwatch with at least one built-in, detachable camera, according to a new report in The Verge.

A camera-equipped smartwatch would allow Facebook to compete not only against Apple, which has managed to carve out a substantial market for the Apple Watch, but also its social arch-rival Snap, which remains interested in developing augmented-reality eyeglasses. The report in The Verge suggests that Facebook’s watch will emphasize video calling (via one camera) and capturing higher-resolution video (via the other camera, which can detach). 

Facebook’s track record with hardware is spotty. Although its Oculus line of virtual-reality headsets has its fans among gamers and hardcore VR adherents, its Portal line of voice-activated smart speakers failed to sell in nearly the same quantities as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. Can the company succeed in the wearables segment? Time will tell.

Apple’s WWDC Unveils New Features 

For developers who spend lots of time in Apple’s ecosystem, it was a very big week. At this year’s edition of WWDC, Apple rolled out all sorts of updates to iOS, macOS and its other platforms. As usual, the public won’t get to experience these updates until fall, but developers will have a few months to experiment with Apple’s latest and greatest.

What sort of things did Apple unveil? FaceTime offers a number of improvements, including voice isolation, portrait mode, and the ability to share video and audio streams (dubbed SharePlay). The iPhone’s camera now recognizes text in photos, which you can copy and paste. And that’s in addition to a handful of security and privacy updates

The updates to watchOS will allow you to track your respiratory rate, as well as use a portrait-mode photo as your watch’s main screen. Meanwhile, iPadOS will have home screen widgets (akin to the ones already present in iOS), along with improvements to multitasking. The new version of macOS (dubbed “Monterey”) has an overhauled Safari, plus new features that tighten the overlap between this operating system and iOS (including SharePlay and a “universal control” for simultaneously controlling multiple iOS and macOS devices). 

For developers, many of these new features have APIs. That’s in addition to some tweaks to Apple’s app-building process, including the ability to test multiple product pages that target different audiences (Product Page Optimization). Xcode Cloud will ease the building of apps in the cloud.

Many of these new features are somewhat iterative, as opposed to revolutionary. However, the developer-centric updates could make the building and marketing of apps a little easier. 

Bitcoin Is an Official Currency in One Country 

El Salvador passed a resolution that makes Bitcoin a legal currency, meaning citizens can use it to buy goods and services. Is it a good idea? Whatever your opinion on it, it definitely sounds like something out of a William Gibson novel

That’s it! Have a great weekend, everyone!