The Worldwide Developer Conference kicked off on Monday after weeks of breathless speculating about what was in store for Siri, Apple augmented reality, the company’s mysterious digital health initiative, and more.
As in the past, the conference is primarily geared toward developers, allowing them to get insights into all the fancy new apps they can create for the App Store. The more sexy hardware announcements — including what’s going on with the iPhone SE 2 — will likely be introduced later in the Fall.
That said, there was still a plenty for fans and consumers alike to get excited about after today’s speech. Here are some of the biggest crowdpleasers.
Collaborative Augmented Games
One of the most interesting announcements from today’s keynote is what lies in store for Apple’s augmented reality efforts. As Reuters reported on Friday, the new iPhone operating system will allow for phone-to-phone augmented reality.
Translation? Theoretically, when you play Pokémon Go you’ll be able to sync up your phone to a friend’s, who will then be able to see what you’re seeing. Lego will also be working with Apple on a suite of new apps that will allow users to build within the same world, giving us a taste of how Apple’s new AR will be applied to both work and play.
A Smarter Siri
One of the worst-kept secrets about this year’s WWDC was the impending introduction of a smarter Siri, which Apple began teasing several weeks ago in an Easter egg campaign for fans. If you asked Siri a question about the run-up to WWDC, the virtual assistant would respond that she was getting “a brand new voice” that would be a “lot smarter.”
As expected, the new Siri will be able to recognize its owner’s voice and start enabling much more sophisticated commands through a feature called shortcuts. Users will now be able to bundle commands around a certain time of day or series of actions: Telling Siri you’re going to commute home, for example, could simultaneously pull up traffic reports and turn on your home’s AC so it’s nice and cool by the time you get there.
Better Tools To Unplug
One of the most touted updates ahead of this year’s conference was what the company would be rolling out as part of its heretofore mysterious digital health initiative. Consumers are increasingly aware that the constant drumbeat of attention-seeking notifications might be starting to do more harm than good. The new software updates will make it easier for users to fine tune which alerts get through and when.
Among other things, users will soon be able to batch notifications in terms of time of day — banning all notifications when you’re asleep, or banning social media alerts when you’re at work, for example — as well as allow you to silence whole groups of notifications with a single swipe.
You’ll also be able to take advantage of a new dark screen mode which will be easier on the eyes, and users can receive a weekly report of how much they’re logging into certain apps and when.
Stronger Privacy Protections Against Fingerprinting
Another good consumer friendly feature? Apple will now make it harder for third parties to track you on your app devices. You’ll also start to get notifications that will allow you to block Facebook or other third-party apps that may be surreptitiously tracking you.
“We’re making it much harder for trackers to create a unique finger print,” Apple software chief Craig Federighi said. “Your Mac will look more like everyone else’s Mac.”
Better Memoji That Look Like You
One of the most surefire crowdpleasers from today’s announcement is what appears to be a Snap-killer: Customized emoji that sure look a lot like Bitmoji. Apple claims the customization process will be pretty easy, and should help bring a little life to your iMessage threads. You can see all the details of the new feature, as well as all of our other WWDC coverage below.
Read Our Complete WWDC 2018 Coverage Below
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