While there were no hardware announcements from this year’s World Wide Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, Apple certainly had a lot to announce in terms of software updates. Best of all, all of the new features and functionality won’t cost you a cent if you already have a compatible Apple device.
We were on the ground at WWDC to bring you a wrap up of all of the new things we can expect.
WatchOS 3 is coming this spring, and it tackles one of the biggest frustrations about the Apple Watch, which is the time it takes for apps to load. Now, with WatchOS 3, apps load up to seven times faster, which is a big improvement. During the demo we witnessed, watch apps loaded almost instantly, which is much better than the 10 or so seconds apps normally take to open.
Also new for WatchOS is a revamped and streamlined navigation, so now you can swipe up on the watch face to reveal your control panel, and there’s an app dock that lets you browse and select apps easily. You can also swipe between watch faces with an edge-to-edge swiping gesture. It also appears that Minnie Mouse has decided to keep Mickey company as a new watch face.
The cool new ‘scribble’ feature lets you use your finger to input text characters, making it easier to jot out short messages. Also new is Apple’s Breath app. This helps you manage your stress levels by stepping you through some deep breathing exercises on a daily basis.
Also on the fitness front, your Activity Summary now gets its very own app, and you can share your daily activity with your friends, and even send a voice message to gloat about how many steps you’ve taken, or share your resting heart rate.
The latest update of tvOS, which is the operating system that runs on Apple’s 4th generation Apple TV devices, is fairly minor but does have some cool new things.
First off is that Apple has updated its ‘Remote’ app, which lets you control the Apple TV from your iPhone or iPad. It replicates all of the controls found on the Siri remote, but also harnesses the built-in accelerometer to be used as a gamepad.
For those who like to watch TV in dark environments, there’s a new dark mode, which changes the background from white to black, so it’s not so harsh to look at when the lights are dimmed.
Siri on Apple TV also gets smarter and has the ability to find your content within more apps and channels. For example, you can now ask Siri to look for videos within YouTube, which should make it a lot easier to find those cat compilation videos.
Lastly, Apple has introduced a new streamlined ‘single sign-on’ for Apple TV, which provides some consistency and makes it a whole lot quicker to sign up for new services and channels via the remote control. There’s no word yet if Stan, Presto, Netflix and other Australian ‘channels’ will use it, but we hope so.
One of the big changes is the retiring of the ‘OS X’ name and the introduction of ‘MacOS’, which is more in-line with the other ‘OS’ names that Apple uses. MacOS also gains the ‘Sierra’ moniker to differentiate itself from later versions.