WWDC 2016: Everything You Need to Know
Last week Apple hosted its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). Frankly, it paled in comparison to Google I/O last month, with some notable omissions and let downs – no mention of anything related to virtual reality, no major update to the tvOS platform, etc. While Google I/O offered more for developers and consumers alike, there were still a number of noteworthy announcements from WWDC this year. Here are the most important.
- Announcement of iOS 10 (coming Fall 2016), complete with extensions for Maps, Siri, iMessage, and more
- SiriKit: Siri has been opened up to developers, with SiriKit enabling developers to create apps that work with Siri to improve user experience
- Apple Pay coming to the web
- Single sign-on for MVPDs on tvOS
- Home Kit: Home App for centralized control of smart technologies
- Continuity: Seamless interoperability between Apple devices
- Expanded Siri search functionality on tvOS
- Siri coming to macOS Sierra
- WatchOS 3: easier navigation and significant speed/performance improvements
Described by Apple as the biggest iOS release ever, iOS 10 comes packed with upgrades and new features, including:
- Siri SDK – Siri will finally be opening up to developers which means that they can build apps that work with Siri. This is a big step forward, especially since developers can now provide greater utility to iPhone users via voice command seamlessly.
- New lock screen and home screen design with “raise to wake” function, rich notifications, and quick interaction with apps via expanded use of 3D touch.
- Quicktype, which includes more intelligent machine word learning, contextual typing, and multilingual typing.
- Maps – like Siri, Maps will finally be opened up to developers, allowing for app extensions that have functionality within Maps (for example, booking a table with Open Table directly from Maps). It will also have context-based suggestions, search along route function, dynamic view, traffic on route display, and more.
- HomeKit – There will be a Home App that allows users to control all their smart accessories from a centralized location. Users will also be able to control smart home accessories remotely, set up automation (for example, geo-fencing), and use the app on their iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watch.
- iMessage Apps – Apple has added a number of minor but interesting functionalities to iMessage, including “emojification suggestions”, bubble effects, invisible ink, handwritten messages, and more. Most significantly, Apple is opening Messages up to developers, allowing app integration into iMessage.
A developer preview of iOS 10 is available already, and will be available to users this Fall.
Available in the Fall, WatchOS 3 brings some fairly significant improvements, namely with speed, performance, and usability.
- Speed – Apps are kept in memory with updates performed in the background allowing for apps to load instantly.
- Dock & Contact Center – From a design perspective, Apple has focused on improving navigation on the Apple Watch. They’ve added a dock so users can more easily access and select apps by adding their favorite/most frequently used apps. Swipe navigation lets users locate the app and a tap lets them access it. WatchOS 3 will also have control Center, accessible by swiping from the bottom.
- Messaging – WatchOS 3 will make replying to messages easier with a number of quick, smart replies available with a tap. Most notably, it will include Scribble, a feature that allows you to write out messages on the interface using your finger rather than typing on a keyboard.
tvOS & Apple TV
After the announcement of tvOS in September of 2015, the follow-up at WWDC was admittedly a little disappointing. Mostly, there were minor upgrades that aim to improve usability as well as the addition of a few neat features.
- The new version of remote app for the iPhone that has all the features of the Siri remote.
- Searchability – users can now search movies by topic/category from the Siri remote.
- Live Tune In – searching by voice will bring you directly into the live channel instead of having to click to access the app.
- tvOS apps that are downloaded from the iPhone will be automatically added to the user’s Apple TV.
Perhaps the most useful upgrade announced was the introduction of single sign-on for MVPDs, which allows users to log in once and be able to access all of the apps, rather than authenticating information for each app individually. This will help improve the user experience and deal with the “authentication problem” that many content providers have noted is a major barrier to user adoption.
MacOS Sierra & Continuity
The new macOS launching this Fall is named Sierra, and it comes with a few interesting updates. Continuity, which lets users move seamlessly between Apple devices and apps, is perhaps one of the most impactful upgrades announced at WWDC this year.
- Auto Unlock – Users will be able to get into their laptops without typing in passwords as it will be unlocked automatically with their Apple Watch.
- Apple Pay – Apple pay will now be available for the web. Continuity allows you to authenticate a purchase on the web using fingerprint Touch ID from your iPhone, or from your Apple Watch.
- Universal Clipboard – a simple but very useful concept, Universal Clipboard allows you to copy from one device and paste to any other Apple device.
- Siri will be included in Sierra.
To access the keynote from WWDC 2016, check out the Apple events website. More information on specific updates and announcements can be found in the Featured Videos section from WWDC (videos available on Safari).