Apple kicked off its 33rd Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 6. Like the 2020 and 2021 WWDCs, the 2022 event was also a virtual one with limited in-person attendance. The company claims to have 34 million Apple Developers globally now. Besides opening a Developer Center in Apple Park, it has also introduced online Tech Talks for developers to connect with Apple engineers for live sessions and even virtual office hours. There are now 17 Developer Academies around the world.
Previous years have had a greater focus on software development for Apple’s iOS, iPadOS, macOS and WatchOS. But this year, Apple has given hardware updates, featuring news about its latest Apple Silicon M2 chip, and updates to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
Apple’s latest WWDC has only furthered its walled garden approach by more deeply connecting different iOS products through an emphasis on collaboration, productivity and sharing.
The following are the key takeaways from the announcements:
Next-generation Apple Silicon begins with the M2 chip in MacBook Air and MacBook Pro
- Apple’s M1 chips received an incredibly positive reception from the tech community. The M2 chip is built on 5nm technology with 20 billion transistors, providing an 18% faster CPU, a 35% more powerful GPU and a 40% faster Neural Engine compared to the M1 of last year. It also has 50% more memory bandwidth compared to the M1, and up to 24GB of fast unified memory. It also includes a higher-bandwidth video decoder, supporting 8K H.264 and HEVC video.
- The M2 chip will first launch with the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air was redesigned and now measures 11.3 mm thin and weighs just 2.7 pounds. It still has a fan-less design, supports 18 hours of video playback and has a larger 13.6” liquid retina display with 500 nits brightness. The MacBook Pro seems to have received more minor upgrades through the M2 chip. Both will be available for purchase starting in July at a price of $1,199 and $1,299 respectively.
New iOS 16 features focus on customization, communication and deeper ecosystem integration
- iOS users can now customize their lock screen with new filters, widgets and real-time feeds. Apple is now making it easier to share content between users through a new Shared Photo Library on iCloud, expanded SharePlay functionality, allowing shared Safari Tab Groups between users, and an upgrade to Live Text, Apple’s Google Lens competitor, to more easily capture text from images.
- In terms of deeper ecosystem integration, Apple Wallet received several updates such as Tap to Pay, which enables iOS users to pay phone-to-phone and skips the use of a POS terminal. There are more partners which will accept ID cards stored in Apple Wallets. Also, the ID in the Wallet can now be used in instances where ID verification is necessary. Digital key cards are also now more easily shareable. Apple Pay Later splits the cost of a purchase across four payments over six weeks for US users. Apple Wallet can also now track orders of devices bought via Apple Pay Order Tracking with participating merchants. CarPlay showed off what next-generation vehicles (said to be launched in late 2023) will be capable of by deeply integrating with a cars hardware. CarPlay will be capable of interfacing with vehicle data to render the speed, fuel level, temperature and more on the instrument cluster, as well as personalize the dashboard with widgets and even natively control the radio or change the climate. Aside from the M2 chip announcement, CarPlay is the next big thing to watch as Apple broadens its reach in the automitive space.
- Other announcements focused on deeper Siri integration with apps, improved dictation features, a revamped Home app that will bring support for the Matter smart home connectivity standard, expanded uses for the Health and Fitness apps, and new improvements to Apple News and Game Center. Lastly, Apple focused on a new privacy tool called Safety Check which can be helpful to users whose personal safety is at risk from domestic or intimate partner violence, and updates to accessibility services.
WatchOS 9 showcased minor updates, but some with big health impacts
- There are now several new watch interfaces to help users customize their smart watch further.
- The Workout App shows a Heart Rate Zones which can be used to monitor the intensity of a workout and more information on pace, power, heart rate and cadence can be displayed. New running form metrics have been introduced, including Stride Length, Ground Contact Time and Vertical Oscillation.
- More sleep insights and data can be harnessed as Apple can now track sleep stages. Using signals from the accelerometer and heart rate sensor, the Apple Watch can detect when users are in REM, Core, or Deep sleep.
- Users who are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib) can track the frequency of AFib over an extended period of time with their watch and monitor their conditions better. The data can also be shared with a healthcare provider.
- Lastly, Apple Watch can now help users manage and track their medications, vitamins and supplements by setting alerts and reminders.
macOS Ventura enables more multitasking, cross-device integration, improved gaming
- Stage Manager is an interesting productivity tool that can help organize apps and windows into groups to seamlessly transition between different tasks.
- Continuity Camera uses the iPhone as the webcam on Mac, a neat feature to utilize the iPhone’s great camera system. It even works wirelessly.
- Handoff is also coming to FaceTime. Users can start a FaceTime call on their iPhone or iPad and fluidly transition it over to their Mac.
- Metal 3 is the latest version of the proprietary software that powers the gaming experience for Apple products using Apple Silicon. MetalFX Upscaling will help enable rendering at a lower internal resolution before being displayed, making AAA games run better.
Next iPadOS 16 packs productivity, collaboration features
- All the above productivity and collaboration features are also present for iPadOS 16.
- In addition to them, a new collaboration tool called Freeform will become available later this year. This app essentially creates a whiteboard that can be used in real time to write down notes and ideas while on a FaceTime session with multiple people.
- There is also now full external display support, enabling even stronger productivity gains.