Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) kicked off its annual developer conference, WWDC, today. The Cupertino tech giant unveiled all of its biggest new innovations for all of its major platforms. WWDC comes nearly a month after Alphabet subsidiary Google had hosted its I/O developer conference, where it detailed the search giant's newest version of Android, among other things.
Here's everything Apple announced today.
TV and Watch
Apple's latest version of tvOS will have multi-user support, which will allow better customization for each user, such as personalized "Up Next" queues for TV and video content. The company is also adding more options for external game controllers: Microsoft Xbox controllers and Sony PlayStation 4 controllers will soon work with tvOS games.
The Apple Watch is getting more watch faces and new "taptic chimes" that ring on the hour. The bigger news with watchOS is that native apps will be able to be developed independently, without being bundled as part of iPhone apps as they currently are. There will be a new dedicated App Store for watchOS where users can download and install apps directly on the Apple Watch, as opposed to having to download apps through a paired iPhone. Apple is also adding menstrual cycle tracking, effectively catching up with Fitbit, which introduced a similar feature last year.
iOS splits into two
Recognizing that the iPhone and iPad continue to diverge as device categories, Apple is splitting up iOS into two separate operating systems: iOS for iPhone, and iPadOS for iPad. Apple has been aggressively positioning the iPad as a laptop replacement, and the company needs to make drastic changes to realize that vision.
iOS 13 on the iPhone will include a new dark mode, swipe-based keyboard typing, and various other performance improvements. Face ID will unlock devices 30% faster, and Apple is changing how it packages apps to reduce file sizes and speed up app launching. The tech titan is introducing a new "Sign in with Apple" feature, competing with similar services offered by Facebook and Google. Of course, Apple's differentiator will be strong privacy protections that limit tracking. There will also be improvements for Apple Maps, HomeKit, Memoji, CarPlay, and Siri.
iPadOS is still built on the same technical foundation of iOS, but it's been clear for quite some time that Apple's tablet needs to split off on its own in terms of development. "Over the years, iPad has also evolved into something unique," software chief Craig Federighi said. iPadOS will have a more compact icon grid for more efficient use of the screen real estate, and will include many more powerful ways to multitask, a critical need for a laptop replacement.
iPads will get a more sophisticated file management system, as well as support for external USB drives. At long last, Safari on the iPad will become a desktop-class browser, which has easily been one of the most prominent and long-standing complaints and hurdles to using an iPad as a primary computer.
New Mac Pro is almost here
Two years ago, Apple made the rare move of acknowledging design flaws with the "trash can" Mac Pro, promising its professional customer base that it had a new, more modular version in the pipeline. Apple unveiled the new Mac Pro today, which immediately drew comparisons to a cheese grater, not unlike older designs. The Mac Pro is extremely modular, giving professional users considerable flexibility with how they tailor the system to their professional needs.
The thermal system, a key flaw in the outgoing version, has been revamped, and the Mac Pro has a dizzying array of expansion slots and boasts massive processing and graphics performance. It starts at $6,000 and ships later this fall.
After exiting the external display market a few years ago, recent rumors that Apple was working on a new professional display were proven true, too. The new Pro Display XDR is a 32-inch Retina 6K display that Apple says checks every item on pro users' wish list, such as an improved version of High Dynamic Range (HDR) that Apple calls Extreme Dynamic Range (XDR) -- hence the name. The monitor also uses an innovative backlighting and thermal system to sustain higher levels of brightness. Pro Display XDR starts at $5,000, and the stand itself is sold separately for another $1,000.
Heading to Catalina
Continuing Apple's California-themed names, the next version of MacOS is called Catalina. The company is finally acknowledging that iTunes has become a bloated app over the years. Federighi joked that Apple was going even further by adding a calendar, email, and Safari into the app. In reality, Apple is unbundling iTunes into three different apps specialized for different types of content: Apple Music, Podcasts, and Apple TV. Device syncing will be moved into the Finder.
Apple introduced a feature called Sidecar, which can turn an iPad into an external display in either wired or wireless modes. A new Find My Mac technology will let Macs send out Bluetooth beacons that any Apple device can detect in an encrypted and anonymous way, so a Mac in sleep mode can still be located. Last year, Apple started bringing iPad apps to the Mac, and as part of what the company refers to as "Project Catalyst," it is releasing a suite of tools that will allow developers to quickly and efficiently port iPad apps to the Mac.