Hot on the heels of the Google I/O 2019 conference last month came Apple WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) 2019, during which the company laid out its vision for the future. Google may have made splashier headlines this year, both at its I/O conference and when it unveiled its new online gaming platform Stadia. But it was through a series of seemingly small but really landscape-shifting announcements that Apple has captured the 2019 Big Tech Company Developers Conference Trophy (an award I just made up, because why not?). With a number of initiatives focusing on the user, Apple has managed to showcase a future that is responsive to people’s needs and wants.
Apple finally confirmed news that leaked a few days earlier: It is “killing off” iTunes, the music, podcasts, and movies platform that everyone loves, yet also kind of totally dreads. It’s really not a full-on death, but instead a rebranding of the product.
In its place will be three different apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV. Each will be handling its own respective service instead of Apple lumping everything together in iTunes as in previous iterations. Your MP3 collections, your access to the Music store (if you fancy purchasing music the old-fashioned digital way), and the overall vibe of iTunes will still be there for you to enjoy for the time being. iTunes isn’t fully going away, but like everything in this world, it’s evolving to meet the needs of the user at this specific moment in time.
I’m on My Way, I’m Making It
Once again, Apple’s latest updates to its OS stole the show, the biggest being the unveiling of iOS 13, the next version of its mobile system. It will have tricks such as 30% faster Face ID unlocking and an app launch speed that is twice as fast. These things may not seem like big additions, but when thought about in context of the already great performance of iOS, you understand that Apple won’t settle for OK—it has to be the best. In what you could call its “late to the party but very welcome nonetheless” category, Apple finally added a much-sought-after Dark Mode and will now allow users to swipe across letters to type instead of needing to tap individual letters. These features, which are already part of the Android ecosystem, were welcomed with great fanfare from all Apple devotees despite being overdue.
Apple then surprised everyone by announcing that iOS 13 would also have an iPad-specific version, dubbed iPadOS 13. This was the first time Apple drew any kind of distinction between the systems of the iPhone and the iPad, and it suggests a future in which these two products veer further apart from each other.
Features such as multitasking and a customizable home screen could suggest that Apple may be looking at the iPad as the successor to laptops, a future in which the touchscreen device is merged with the traditional keyboard-based device. And yet, in the present, Apple still sees you with your iPad to your right and your laptop to your left.
Sidecar, a new feature in macOS Catalina, which will debut in the fall, will allow you to use your iPad as your laptop’s second screen. This feature can even have the iPad functioning as the drawing tablet that you use with your Apple Pencil, all tied back into the laptop.
Apple announced that users can now plug their thumb drives into the iPad and that their files can be managed in the new iPadOS. Taken together, these large and small tweaks to the iPad, and its new OS, show us a possible future in which we’re all tapping away at a screen instead of pounding on a keyboard.
So Much Larger Than Life
Apple WWDC 2019 wasn’t just about impressive tweaks to an already impressive OS. The latest Mac Pro, dubbed the cheese grater because of its similarity to the kitchen device, is a modular and customizable Mac experience that has eight peripheral component interconnect (PCI) slots for customization. It’s a heavy-duty machine that will for sure please those who rely on their Macs for a stronger computing performance.
The Apple Watch, like the iPad, is becoming less tied to the iPhone. Users will now be able to update their watch via the device directly, and independent apps on the platform will not require a companion iPhone app. In its ongoing quest to help you manage your health, the Apple Watch will allow users to track their fertility and menstrual cycles.
Apple Maps is getting its own version of Google Maps’ Street View, and the announcement was delivered with an apology about the service’s poor past performance.
Besides getting its own app because of the “Death of iTunes,” Apple TV will now support multiple users, similar to Netflix’s user profiles.
Privacy was once again on Apple’s mind. iOS 13 will give users the ability to share their location with apps for one time only, prompting the app to ask the user for permission in the future. Other privacy updates show that the company is becoming more transparent by letting users know when their location data is being accessed and blocking apps from using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections to see a user’s location. The biggest privacy-related announcement was Sign in with Apple, a feature similar to Sign in with Google or Login With Facebook, which will give folks the option to sign in to third-party apps and services using their Apple credentials.
My Parties Have All the Big Names
While not on the level of Apple’s past conferences, which have seen huge shifts in technology such as the arrival of the iPhone, the iPad, and, way back when, iTunes, Apple WWDC 2019 was a delightful presentation; the announcements will surely be seen in Apple’s products for many years to come. Apple’s insistence on continually improving its already quality products shows a company that is obsessed with giving users the best possible experience. It is through this experience and immersion in its ecosystem that Apple hopes to hold onto what users it has and attract many new ones through the years.