About a month ago Apple hosted its annual WWDC for 2016, announcing some updates to some of our beloved Apple Devices. A major topic of WWDC was the mobile operating system (OS) known as iOS, and the Computer OS known as OSX.
Siri has been a part of the iPhone for about 5 years now and Apple will finally update this potentially powerful feature, as Siri seemed to be falling behind of the other major artificial intelligent (AI) personal assistants. Apple has created a Siri Software Development Kit (SDK), which means that developers will now be able to incorporate Siri into their applications. While some third-party apps, like Yelp and OpenTable, already play nice with Siri, it’s a very short list. But finally, after five years of a mostly solitary existence, Siri’s going to make some friends.
iMessage was overhauled as well, while the rumored iMessage for Android didn’t materialize, Apple’s chat app did pick up a suite of sweet new features. There’s a lot going on here, most of which catches the app up to its messaging rivals. iMessage will have rich links inline, meaning you can play videos from YouTube, songs from Music, or open websites without bailing out to another app. Its emoji’s are three times bigger than before, but only when sent without lettered characters, and it will prompt you to emojify any words as you type. Which means the iPhone will suggest emoji’s to replace words. (pizza, taco, love, and… eggplant?) You can add effects to the text in your bubbles, making it larger if you want to shout and smaller if you’re feeling meek. In case you wanted to share more emotion with your messages. You also have the ability to leave small comments on messages, like a simple thumbs up or down or even a quick ‘HaHa’. You can write messages in “invisible ink,” that the recipient can only read after swiping, or you can blur the message until they tap. This would be good for lots of uses and NOT just for dirty deeds. iMessage now has an app drawer, meaning you can send money with Square, order food with DoorDash, and so on. Turning iMessage into a platform is a move Apple needed to make, especially with Facebook Messenger having already done most of this a year ago. I’ve also noticed through using the new iOS beta that your iPhone will watch your messages or emails and look for key phrases like, “How does coffee this weekend sound?” and will give you suggestions to “add ‘Coffee’ to your calendar for this weekend?” A great new feature I have been finding tremendously useful.
Apple added a feature to the lock screen that shows you what’s on your display when you pick it up. Rather than having to click your home or lock button. From there, you can get more info or respond to them from the lock screen using 3D Touch. Apps with information that evolves in real-time can have notifications update live. They also removed the ‘Slide to unlock’ feature, which is tough to get used to. Instead it’s ‘Press home to unlock’, which sucks because I’ve known of a lot of people who don’t have working home buttons. Sliding now get you either to a list of widgets that give you weather, calendar, maps, or something else (This screen is customizable) or straight to your camera if you slide the opposite direction.
There are a lot of cool features coming to the Phone app (remember, you can still make phone calls with your iPhone), but the only one I’m really looking forward to is voicemail transcription. If it’s even half as bad as Google’s, it should provide endless entertainment. Your iPhone will listen to your voicemail and transcript it to text, so you won’t have to listen to the voicemail, or even bother taking notes like phone numbers or names while listening. Otherwise! There’s a new VoIP API that lets incoming calls from WhatsApp, FaceTime, or wherever look more like normal phone call. It’ll also automatically check calls for which seem like spam, and let you know.
FINALLY! This didn’t make the stage at the WWDC keynote, but good news for everyone with an “Apple Junk” folder wasting space on their home screen: In iOS 10, you can delete Tips, Calculator, Music, and more than a dozen other preloaded Apple apps.
The company announced its newest desktop operating system: macOS Sierra, which is slated to be ready for Apple customers this Fall. Although the name Sierra is in step with Apple’s naming its desktop clients after California natural landmarks, it also marks a shift in its naming convention more generally: Apple desktop OS has replaced the suffix “X” with the prefix “mac,” following the naming convention of the company’s other hardware operating systems: tvOS, watchOS, and iOS.
Siri joins the desktop OS with this next release. The idea is that you’ll be able to use Siri much like you already use Finder and Spotlight, the traditional Apple desktop search engines. You can ask Siri to search for files, switch between apps, and do quick math. It can also query the Internet and allow you to drag and drop those results into other apps running on your desktop. While these updates are exciting alone, Apple is hoping Siri will be able to do more. As part of its introduction to desktop, Apple is opening Siri to app developers with a new SDK, putting Apple in the race to build the best digital home assistant, alongside Amazon’s Alexa.
Sierra is also engineered for more intuitive continuity between how you use your suite of Apple products. Take copy and paste, for example: with Sierra, users will be able to copy and paste between their iPhone and desktop. So if you copy a line you’re reading from an article on your phone, just right click on your desktop to paste it in a text field there, a feature Apple is calling Universal Clipboard. Sierra will also include an update to allow you to see your computer desktop on your phone, so if you quickly saved a screenshot on your computer, you can Tweet that from your phone by accessing your macOS desktop folder from your iPhone. This update is driven by improvements to iCloud, which Sierra has optimized for better sharing across devices. As to whether this will actually be more convenient than the timeworn tradition of emailing yourself is hard to say.
If you have an Apple Watch, it will be able to communicate to authenticate your credentials on your computer too. That means no more typing in a password to securely unlock the screen.
Secure wireless communication between Apple devices is being rolled out with Apple Pay too, which is trusted and easy to use mostly thanks to its integration with Apple’s Touch ID, the iPhone’s biometric authentication fingerprint reader. That same convenience and security (it’s not easy to hack someone’s fingerprints) is coming to the desktop. With the new operating system, if you’re buying things online, you can authenticate your purchases quickly and easily with Touch ID on your phone, ergo expanding compatibility of Apple Pay and offering biometric security for desktop purchases simultaneously. Take that, PayPal.