WWDC 19 divides media apps, goes big with Mac Pro

Mac Pro 2019
Mac Pro 2019

The rest of the best from this week's conference

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5 June 2019 | 0

Apple’s big WWDC keynote presentation is over, but the scrutiny over the new Mac Pro, iOS 13, iPadOS 13, tvOS 13, and macOS Catalina is just beginning. We covered the main parts of iOS, iPad OS, Swift and ARKit, but there was plenty we didn’t get around to. So here’s the rest.

tvOS

Apple kicked off the conference by talking about updates to tvOS, which runs on its Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K products. It just got a refresh this spring with the new TV app, and now Apple is giving us a look at how the entire operating system will change in the autumn.

New home screen: The Apple TV home screen will now play full-screen preview video that suggests content you may want to watch.

Multi-user support: You can add multiple users to your Apple TV and they’ll each get their own personalized suggestions and use their own Apple Music playlists and recommendations.

Control center: A new Control Center slides in from the right side of the screen, giving you quick access to changing users, dimming the display, and more.

Lyrics in sync with Apple Music: Apple Music’s lyrics now sync up with the song. Perfect for karaoke night.

Game controller support: Apple TV will support the Xbox One controller (newer models with Bluetooth) and the PS4 DualShock controller. This support is coming to iPhone and iPad, too.

Undersea screen savers: Apple partnered with BBC Natural History Unit to shoot 4K HDR underwater footage to make new screen savers.

watchOS 6

Apple Watch got a lot better with the Series 4, and watchOS 6 takes it a big leap forward. Apple’s aiming to make this a whole platform unto itself. For more about what’s new in watchOS 6, check out our guide.

New watch faces: Six new faces with lots of customization options, including color and the choice to show full-screen or circular faces that support rich complications.

Taptic chimes: Your Apple Watch can now tap your wrist on the hour, and play a chime if the sound is on. Apple gave the example of a robin’s song, though we assume different faces have different chimes.

New built-in apps: Audiobooks lets you, well, listen to audiobooks. Voice Memos comes over from iOS. Most useful is the calculator app, which includes functions for calculating tips or splitting checks.

Independent apps: Watch apps can run on the watch alone without needing a companion iPhone app.

Watch App Store: There will be an App Store on the watch itself. Browse or search with dictation or scribble, or ask Siri. Purchase and install apps directly on your Apple Watch.

New features for developers: Apps have an extended runtime API that lets them track motion for longer periods of time. This means big improvements to health and fitness tracking apps. There’s also a new streaming audio API that lets music apps stream content instead of requiring you to download it.

Activity trends: Together with the Health app on your iPhone, you can now see not just your daily activity, but how it’s trending. Apple compares your last 90 days to the last 365 to see if you’re improving in nine key metrics.

Hearing health: A new app on the Apple Watch will measure ambient noise and warn you if it’s loud enough to impact your hearing. You can see it in real time in the watch app or on a complication on your watch face. In order to protect your privacy, audio is only periodically sampled and never stored or saved.

Cycle tracking: The Apple Watch and Health app on iOS can help women track their menstrual cycles, receive fertility window notifications, and even predict when their periods are about to start.

Apple briefly showed a slide with lots of other small features, such as automatic app updates, the ability to identify songs with Shazam using Siri built-in to the watch, a complication that informs you of the chance of a rain, a redesigned walkie-talkie, and more.

iOS privacy protections

Privacy protections: You can allow an app to use your location just once (it will have to prompt you again next time you use it). Apple will send you warnings about apps that continue to track you in the background. And it will close the loophole that allowed apps to look at Wi-Fi hotspots and Bluetooth beacons to estimate your location without asking for it.

Name and image in Messages: You can add your name and image to Messages, and then automatically share it with your contacts, or everyone if you prefer. That way, people won’t just see a blank image and phone number when you message them.

Siri Shortcuts: The Shortcuts app is now built into iOS 13 (so you don’t need to download it separately), and it includes a new personalized step-by-step way to create your own automations.

Siri’s new voice: A new “Neural Text-to-Speech” voice uses machine learning to create a completely artificial voice with more natural cadence and smoother-sounding complex words.

Enhanced hardware

HomeKit Secure Video: A new, more secure setup for home video cameras. Video is analyzed in the home, then encrypted and stored on iCloud where nobody (not even Apple) can see it. Your paid iCloud subscription comes with 10 days of storage that won’t count against your iCloud data limit. Initial products are coming from Logitech, Eufy, and Netatmo.

HomeKit routers: Apple will license routers to work with HomeKit accessories, firewalling each one off individually so that no single compromised device can affect others. The first HomeKit-enabled routers are coming from Linksys, Eero, and Internet provider Spectrum.

AirPod enhancements: Share music with second person’s AirPods by tapping phones together. And Siri can now read your incoming messages as soon as they arrive, and you can respond without triggering Siri. It works with any third-party messaging app that supports SiriKit.

HomePod enhancements: Bring your iPhone close to your HomePod to instantly hand off whatever you’re playing. Siri can play over 100,000 radio stations from iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and Radio.com. HomePod also gets multi-user support, with the ability to recognize multiple voices and use each person’s own Music, Reminders, Messages, Notes, etc.

CarPlay improvements: Apple’s biggest CarPlay update ever. A new dashboard puts your map next to your music and Siri smart suggestions, so you don’t have to flip back and forth. Siri doesn’t take over the entire display anymore, and it will work with third-party music and mapping apps.

iPadOS extras

New Home screen: A tighter grid of icons lets you put more stuff on the screen. You can pin widgets to keep them on the Home screen, too.

Files app: The Files app gets a handy new column view, iCloud Drive folder sharing, SMB network support, and USB drive support.

Safari: On the iPad, Safari will display the desktop versions of sites, only optimized for the iPad size and touch. Safari also gets a download manager and 30 new keyboard shortcuts.

Fonts: You can easily install new fonts by downloading directly from the App Store.

New multitouch features: Grab and drag scroll bars. Move cursors by just touching and dragging. Directly drag on text to select it – no double-tapping or magnifying glass. Do a three-finger ‘close’ gesture to copy text, repeat it to cut text, and then do a three-finger “expand” gesture to paste it. A three-finger swipe serves as a new undo gesture.

Apple Pencil: The low 20ms latency has been reduced to a mere 9ms. There’s a redesigned Pencil tool palette, and a new PencilKit API for developers. Drag your pencil up from the corner of the screen to mark up anything on any app.

Compact keyboard: Pinch the iPad keyboard with two fingers to get a small, one-finger, iPhone-sized keyboard.

Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR

Apple finally unveiled its new Mac Pro desktop computer, which will be available this fall for prices starting at $5,999 for the computer and $4,999 for the display.

The Mac Pro features an all-metal design reminiscent of the old beloved ‘cheese grater’ Mac Pro. It sports an Intel Xeon processor with 8, 12, 16, 24, or 28 cores.

There are 12 DIMM slots that allow for a maximum of 1.5 terabytes of ECC DDR4 system memory.

There are eight PCI expansion slots, including four double-wide slots and four single-wide slots. Two of the double-wide slots are “MPX” modules that deliver extra power.

There’s an extra half-length x4 PCIe slot with an I/O slot installed to add Thunderbolt and USB ports.

Apple built a brand-new hardware accelerator card called Afterburner that has an FPGA chip (a programmable processor) that is optimized to process ProRes and ProRes RAW video.

The Mac Pro has a 1.4-kilowatt power supply.

The Pro Display XDR is a 32-inch LCD with a 6K resolution of 6016 x 3384. It’s got true 10-bit color and DCI-P3 color gamut, a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, and a sustained full-screen brightness of up to 1,000 nits, with a limited peak of up to 1,600 nits. The stand is sold separately for $999, or you can buy a VESA mount for $199.

macOS Catalina

MacOS 10.15 has its California-inspired name, and it’s Catalina. It’s biggest new feature is the ability for developers to easily deploy apps made for iOS, but Apple announced plenty of new features.

iTunes breakup: iTunes is going away, replaced by three more focused apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV. Recent Macs play back up to 4K HDR with Dolby Atmos audio. The devices you used to manage and sync with iTunes will instead by managed in the Finder.

Sidecar: Use your iPad as a secondary display for your Mac. Or use your iPad as a Mac tablet in art apps, either wired or wirelessly.

Voice Control: Control your Mac or iOS device entirely with your voice. It’s developed as an accessibility feature but could be very useful for anyone.

Find My: Combines Find My iPhone with Find My Friends, and is now available both on Mac and iOS. It can even find devices that are no longer connected to the network using secure Bluetooth beacons that are end-to-end encrypted and anonymous.

Activation Lock: All Macs with a T2 security chip can have Activation Lock enabled. It works just as it does on iPhone or iPad, preventing a thief from ever being able to activate your device without your Apple ID.

Screen Time: All the same features as on iOS are now brought to the Mac.

Project Catalyst: Previously code-named Marzipan, this is a new technology that lets developers quickly and easily create Mac apps using the tools and techniques they use to make iPhone and iPad apps. Developers can open any iPad-compatible project in Xcode and check the Mac checkbox. Xcode will automatically add tons of Mac-specific features, giving developers a big head start. Devs can then add finishing touches to make it even better on the Mac.

AR tools for developers

Of course, WWDC is a developer conference. While Apple spends most of its keynote showing off features that users can appreciate, there are lots of breakout sessions throughout the week to go over new tools for developers.

During the keynote, Apple touched briefly on two specific areas: augmented reality (AR) and its Swift programming language.

RealityKit: A new toolkit for developers who want to make AR apps but don’t know much about 3D rendering. It incorporates rendering, camera effects, audio, physics, and more.

Reality Composer: A new app for developers that has a drag-and-drop interface to create AR scenes using a big library of already-made 3D objects and animations.

IDG News Service

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