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LanceList - Issue #49

Apple WWDC 2018 Special Edition


June 5 · Issue #49 · View online
Tech stories that matter, Gadget Quests, nerd pursuits, and other things you ought to know.

Apple WWDC 2018 Special Edition

Apple WWDC 2018 Special Report
It’s about you. The next version of iOS, which Apple unveiled this week at its WWDC 2018 keynote in San Jose (and yours truly attended), doesn’t look much different from iOS 11, but there are myriad important changes spread throughout. There are the new, customized Memojis, an upgrade to Animojis, that let you build your own animated chat faces and use them in messages and in the messages camera. Apple updated Siri with customized prompts, introduced grouped Notifications and group FaceTime chats, and enhanced overall performance (though they didn’t touch battery performance). Most interesting, though, are the new tools that could help you use your phone and apps a little less (yes, I said “less”). It’s this last set of features, which includes Screen Time, that may have the biggest impact on our app- and social-media-obsessed lives. I know I’m intrigued.
Apple iOS 12 is a toolbox full of iPhone breaks – Lance Ulanoff – Medium Apple iOS 12 is a toolbox full of iPhone breaks – Lance Ulanoff – Medium
WWDC Redux. TBH I’m still digesting a lot of what I heard in Apple CEO Tim Cook and SVP Craig Federighi’s (where was Eddy Cue?) two-hour walk-through of iOS 12, MacOS Mojave, watchOS 5, and tvOS. 
This is the first Apple Developer Conference in recent memory without even a hint of hardware. (there were Apple Watch bands, but they don’t count). Not only did Apple not unveil a new MacBook, iPad, iPhone or Apple Watch, they didn’t tease fresh hardware or tell us when they’re finally going to ship AirPower. It was the most-purely 10101010 WWDC in recent memory.
Siri got an expected upgrade, but it wasn’t as big as I expected. The customization and Shortcuts are powerful tools for creating bespoke voice assistant prompts, but there was no mention of a more conversational Siri.
Apple’s love affair with AR (over any mention of VR) continued with a robust update to ARKit called ARKit2. A key improvement is the ability to share AR experiences, I saw this in action with an AR LEGO app that let me and someone else holding another iPad work on a virtual and real LEGO model (over ad a-hoc Bluetooth connection). We could set LEGO fires and work together to put them out, see inside the LEGO buildings, add characters, and see the LEGO environment from all angles. It was a lot of fun, but this is more useful.
AI was, of course, also well-represented. Along with Siri Intelligence’s continuing spread across the ecosystem, Apple updated CoreML to CoreML 2 and added CreateML. The latter is a brand new coders’ tool for dropping machine learning skills right into their Xcode programming. It takes a hatchet to the most time-consuming part of building local AI intelligence.
MacOS Mojave got dark mode, which thrilled the audience (I don’t care that much), a Finder update, and some desktop-management tools, but the real highlight was a still-in-beta project that’s bringing some iOS apps to the Mac OS platform. Apple used it to port News and Stocks to Mojave. This could be a game-changer when the dev tools roll out in 2019. The other big update, at least to my mind, is the powerful anti-tracking feature that quietly scrubs the identifying information your Mac usually shares with Web sites and services, so they think your Mac looks like every other Mac in the world and know a lot less about you. Think of it as a Mac fingerprint eraser.
Apple Watch is, thanks to watchOS 5, getting podcasts (a simple feature it should have had ages ago) and Walkie-Talkie, which reminds me of the Push-to-Talk feature on old cellphones. Basically, it lets you press a virtual button on your Apple Watch to talk to anyone on your contact list who also has an Apple Watch. I saw this in action and it really reminded me of those of Walkie-Talkies (you don’t have to say, “over,” when using it, but you can’t talk when the other person is talking). It uses the FaceTime technology, and does, thankfully, let you turn off the feature so people can’t randomly talk to you when you don’t want them to.
The most notable update in tvOS, which works on Apple TV, is the introduction of Zero Sign-On, which means you’re automatically signed into all the cable channel apps (HBO, showtime, Comedy Central, Starz) just by signing into your cable provider (usually, you have to sign into each one individually). So far, though, they only have Charter Communications signed up for this feature.
Developers betas are available now (and I started playing with iOS 12), but it will be a little while before the first Public Betas arrive and months before we get final versions on, I hope, new iPhone, Apple Watch, MacBook and Apple TV hardware. 
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