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WWDC 2022 – did it deliver? BIG surprises or a damp squib?

I have just sat through WWDC 2022, so, if you missed it, here is what went on…

WWDC 2022
WWDC 2022

It’s done!

So, much like some of you, I have just spent the best part of the last two hours watching the long awaited, WWDC. I am trying hard to make sense of my copiously, scribbled notes, to bring you a round-up of what has just gone on at WWDC 2022.

The biggest surprise was that it was a completely pre-recorded event. For those poor souls that handed over good money to be there, they ended up watching the same video as us. I am sure there was a great atmosphere live, but still, I feel for them.

Elephants in the room? Well, that would be the lack of any mention of the headset or Mac Pro. I am guessing that shows just how crippling the chip shortage truly is (more of which later).

As it was a fairly (VERY) long event, I will do my best to summarise by main sectors or headlines, the stories as they unfolded.

iOS16

The big iOS update got a fair old overhaul. I wrote yesterday about widgets coming to the lock screen. That was confirmed, but Apple bought along with that, a high level of personalisation as well. You can create multiple lock screens, and on each of those, edit photos with filters etc. Then you can change fonts, along with the sizes and colours too. You’ll also be able to chose what apps you want as widgets on your lock screens and create your own galleries of apps. The lock screen will now animate, or fade in to your home screen, rather than swipe away as it currently does.

Notifications will roll up from the bottom of your screen. iOS 16 is clearly aimed to have a much softer and intuitive feel to it. Messages has evolved as well. Two important new features are the ability to now both edit and undo sent messages. Loving that!

Other notable changes within iOS 16 are Dictation, Maps, and Sports highlights. Live sports will be easier to follow as notifications, and sporting highlights will be available too, in the UK, USA, and Canada. Wallet also gets attention, and you’ll now be able to share keys with friends directly from your wallet app.

Tap to Pay was confirmed, something I wrote about earlier this year, but a brand-new feature none of us saw coming, was Pay Later. Acting now, almost as a bank, you can split purchases in to 4 equal, non-interest, payments direct from the app.

A very cool, little feature, was the ability to remove backgrounds from photos and add them directly to messages. Guess, that means my Photoshop skill are redundant then!

Rounding out the iOS 16 highlights were tweaks, improvements, or changes to Family Sharing, Photos and Privacy. The most important of these being changes to the way personal safety will be addressed, for those in abusive relationships. De-activating devices and signing out of apps, such as Find My, are central to those critical changes.

Home & car

Corey Wang admitted that Home automation is still in its infancy, but Apple are focused on this for the future. They have signed up to MATTER, the trade industry standard for home security, as if to underscore their intent. Likewise, Carplay will become ever more involved in our daily commutes, with multiscreen capabilities. All I ask for, is for Carplay to be available without having to use a lightning cable. Ah…the future!

watchOS 9

Here, we got 4 new watch faces – Astronomy, Lunar, Playtime & Metropolitan. Siri becomes even more integrated, as do podcasts. Sleep tracking, heart monitoring and a brand-new feature, Medications are all part of the latest watchOS. Seven more languages have also been added to the Apple Watch arsenal.

MacBooks

M2 MacBook Air

Hardware was announced, but not made available.

I have been looking at the website and even chatted with an online supervisor, but, no firm pre-order date has yet been given for the M2 MacBook Air.

The M2 Chip sounds as if it will be pretty special. 25% more productivity but using only one-fifth of the power, being one of the headlines. It will weigh only 2.7 pounds (1.22 kg), and stand a mere 11.5mm thick. It will see the welcome return of MagSafe charging, and also have two USB-C ports. The headphone jack will accommodate high impedance headphones.

The camera will be 1080p, and the Liquid Retina display will measure 13.6 – inches, with up to 500 nits of brightness. Four colours are available – Space Grey, Starlight, Midnight & Silver. The M2 chip will be capable of up to 24GB of unified memory and be 18% more power-efficient.

Audio-wise, it will have a three mic array and four speakers supporting Spatial Audio. It has the trackpad from the MacBook Pros and a full backlit, Magic keyboard with a full set of function keys.

A 13-inch MacBook Pro was also announced. It will be available with up to 2TB of storage and 24GB of unified memory.

macOS

Thankfully, not called Mammoth, but instead, the far more manageable Ventura. Inside of Mail, you’ll soon be able to un-send messages, and schedule when emails get sent. Spotlight becomes more efficient, but it could also, fairly, be argued, it could not be less efficient!

As I reported a while back, the end of passwords as we know it is in sight, with the advent of Passkeys. Based on Cryptographic technology, that can’t be phished, it is approved by the FIDO alliance. The transition will be slow, but it is, at least, underway.

Safari will get some minor, cosmetic improvements, based around tab groups.

Gaming

Moving right along….

Continuity

Almost the highlight of the show, for me, was that iPhone, and its rear-facing camera, will now be able to be used as webcams. Brilliant – if also a slight admission to how bad the Studio Display camera is! What a work-around. Belkin are making some mounts for your iPhone, so soon, you’ll be able to place your iPhone on your display or Mac. Centre Stage will be available along with the bokeh effect and some clever lighting arrangements as well. You’ll be able to use all normal video apps such as Zoom & Webex with this arrangement, as well, of course, as FaceTime.

iPadOS

It was saved until last, and I am thinking, iPad users may not be all that happy or appeased. Stage Manager was the biggest release. It’s a clever way in which to push open windows to one side of your iPad, thereby bringing your main window to the centre. This is also part of macOS, but clearly intended for iPad. Still no mention of pro apps for iPad, though.

Wrapping up

In all, I am uncertain whether to be overwhelmed or, the total opposite by WWDC?

I had really wanted to get my hands on an M2 Mac for you, but the chip shortages beat me on that front. The M2 sounds as if it will be, as we thought, off the charts, but getting hold of it impossible.

The iPhone, being used as a webcam, was a standout, and un-sending email a welcome addition to Mac Mail.

So, what are your thoughts? A good or bad conference? Did it deliver for you? I’m sure I will have more to say about this as the dust settles, but do let me have your initial thoughts.

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