WWDC 2016: key points at a glance from Apple's conference

Apple has overhauled Photos, Music and Messages on iOS and unveiled macOS Sierra at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote

Apple held a keynote event in San Francisco ahead of its Worldwide Developers Conference, where it announced its latest mobile and desktop operating systems.

Apple CEO Tim Cook opened the event with a moment’s silence for the victims of the Orlando shooting. The keynote lasted two hours, the key points are below:


Apple iOS presentation at WWDC 2016
Places arranges pictures by the geolocation information, just like it used to, but now with added facial recognition. Photograph: Apple

For iOS 10, Siri has been opened up to third-party developers, letting users book Ubers, send WeChat messages, and watch sports, all by asking Siri to do it for them.

Faces and Places have returned to the iPhone and iPad’s Photos app, after they were removed when iPhoto was replaced by Photos. Places arranges pictures by the geolocation information, just like it used to, but Faces has seen a boost: the app now uses “advanced computer learning” to recognise, not only individual faces, but also other things such as horses and objects, and to cluster together events based on more than just time and location.

Apple strongly emphasised the fact that all this processing is done “locally, on the device” – a clear swipe at competitor Google, which relies on uploading photos and personal data to its cloud for further processing.

Apple announced a “redesign from the ground up” for Apple Music, its streaming service. The update cleans up the look of the already-minimalist interface, as well as adding lyrics to playing songs for the app’s 15 million subscribers.

The Phone app received the same treatment Music got a few years back: third-party voice calling apps can now get almost the same access as the built-in phone app, with a full-screen calling dialogue, and the ability to pick which app – say, WhatsApp or Skype – becomes the default for calling each contact.

Apple also overhauled its Messages app, making emojis three times bigger and adding predictive emoji. It introduced visual effects for text and pictures plus inline rich linking. Messages will also be opened up to third-party developers.

Messages will allow handwriting.
Messages will allow handwriting. Photograph: Apple


Apple unveiled, macOS Sierra, its latest desktop and laptop OS and replacement for OS X.
Apple unveiled, macOS Sierra, its latest desktop and laptop OS and replacement for OS X. Photograph: Apple

MacOS replaces OS X and is called macOS Sierra in this iteration. The naming change brings the desktop OS name inline with the format of iOS, watchOS and tvOS.

Siri, Apple’s personal assistant, will come to desktop and laptop computers for the first time. It will answer questions on Macs and can be used for messaging as well as search and music control.

The new macOS will have much greater iCloud integration, with a universal clipboard and automatic sharing of files from the desktop across multiple devices. Apple says by deleting local content and hosting it in the cloud it will free up large amount of hard drive space. It also announced Apple Pay for the web, authenticated using an iPhone or Apple Watch.

WatchOS 3

Apple have announced they are adding Minnie Mouse to their Apple Watch fascia, after Mickey was added last year
A Minnie adventure? Apple have announced they are adding Minnie Mouse to their Apple Watch fascia, after Mickey was added last year. Photograph: Apple

Announcing WatchOS 3, Apple sought to tackle some of the biggest criticisms of the Apple Watch: its slow speed, poor user interface and over-reliance on Siri. WatchOS 3 will load apps into memory before they are launched – making them seven times faster to launch according to Apple – and will enable background refresh so that apps are already up to date the second they’re tapped.

The interface is also improved with the death of Glances, the watch’s confusing semi-apps that could be accessed by swiping up from the bottom. Instead, the up-to-date apps can be accessed from a tap of the side button. The over-reliance on Siri is tackled with a second method of text input. Users will be able to write out individual letters on the screen, typing short messages if they want to reply to texts or emails.

And if you have a Mac as well as an Apple Watch (presumably most people who own the wearable technology), you’ll be able to unlock your computer automatically, just by being near it while you’re wearing the watch.


Apple tvOS updates introduced at WWDC.
Apple tvOS updates are introduced at WWDC. Photograph: Apple

The Apple TV received a few new features for its update due this autumn. A new remote app lets users control their TV through their iPhones. A new single sign-on service lets them log into various TV apps with just a simple, Apple-mediated screen. And Siri has been opened up to a third-party developer, letting users search for YouTube videos with their voice.

The Apple TV can also become a remote-control hub for the company’s smart home, Internet of Things control system called HomeKit.


Jonathan Haynes, Alex Hern and Samuel Gibbs

The GuardianTramp

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