Following Tim Cook’s keynote speech and a whole host of exciting announcements at Apple’s 2022 Worldwide Developers Conference – the WWDC – the internet has been painstakingly picking its way through press releases, streams and reports in search of the big news. Here at The Distance, we’ve been doing exactly the same.
One of the biggest tech events of the year, the WWDC provides an overview of what we can expect from Apple over the coming year. Sometimes the event is exciting, sometimes it’s disappointing (we’re looking at you WWDC 2021!), but insights into Apple‘s development process are often intriguing and always revealing.
So, without further ado, here’s our WWDC 2022 wrap up – featuring the best bits from this year’s conference, plus at least one revelation that has us all a little bemused.
iOS 16 – giving the people what they want
The release of iOS 16 was the source of many of this year’s major announcements. In fact, there were some pretty big changes, some of which we think are so significant that we’ve given them their own section.
However, the iOS 16 announcement was also packed full of smaller, crowd-pleasing developments aimed at giving users greater control and personalisation opportunities. Here’s a quick rundown of our three favourites:
Lock screen customisation
This one everyone seems pretty happy about. In iOS 16, users will be able to customise their lock screens to suit their needs. That means you can add multiple photos, alter the positioning of the lock screen elements, change fonts and add widgets. Check your lock screen out!
Delete, edit and unread messages
In many ways Apple iMessage is playing catch-up with some of the bigger messaging apps out there. By introducing the ability to delete and edit sent messages, as well as marking certain messages as unread for an easier find later, they’re showing just how committed they are to closing the gap.
Concentrating on productivity with Focus
The Focus mode’s new filters allow you to organise your apps into discrete groups (eg. work, leisure or exercise) and hide specific groups when you’re in certain situations. For instance, Focus can hide your social media apps while you’re at work or filter out your work apps when you’re trying to unwind at home. Best of all, these filters can be applied according to your schedule, so you don’t have to worry about summoning the self-discipline to do it yourself.
Internet of Things – from home to the road and everything in between
Apple was also keen to focus on the Internet of Things and the way its technology is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous presence in all aspects of modern living.
Are you a health nut or fitness freak? The watchOS 9 comes with a wide range of health-tracking features, including medication reminders and atrial fibrillation measurements.
The Apple Fitness App is now also available to all iPhone users, not just those with an Apple Watch.
Likewise, Apple updated the Home app to make managing digital devices around the house that much easier and more efficient. As well as being able to view four security cameras at once, users also benefit from distinct climate, lights and security categories.
Finally, Apple also announced that it is updating its Carplay technology. While precise details are scarce, it does seem as though the update will allow you to replace your vehicle’s digital dashboard with Apple’s own widgets and instruments. And there may have even been a cheeky glimpse of the rumoured Apple Car…
The M2 Chip and a new MacBook Air
One of the most eagerly anticipated announcements (at least for all the hardcore hardware heads out there) was the arrival of a new generation of Apple silicon chips. Fortunately, the tech giants didn’t fail us and the M2 chip received its big release at the WWDC.
While the jury is still out on whether this represents the giant leap forward that Apple would have us believe it is (this is 2nd generation 5nm technology, rather than a 1st generation 3nm chip), it’s still an impressive performance improvement on the M1 chips. Apple’s stats show that the M2’s CPU is 18% faster and its GPU 35% faster than its predecessor (Apple). That’s nothing to scoff at.
WWDC 2022 also featured the first Apple products to utilise the M2, notably the redesigned MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. The former is causing a particularly big splash, with an even sleeker design and a few aesthetic flourishes borrowed from the latest iPads and iPhones.
Compared to some of the other developments we’ve mentioned so far, this may seem like a small fry. But we actually think it has the potential to be a bit of a game-changer. Sometimes, the subtlest design adjustments have a big impact on the way we interact with our devices. Give it a while and Stage Manager may affect a significant shift in device usage.
Stage Manager allows iOS 16 device users to have multiple, overlapping windows open on an iPad at the same time. Want to watch Netflix while scouring the internet for the latest tech rumours? Now it’s possible. Like we said, it’s a small change but one that we expect app developers to capitalise on in the future. We’re looking forward to some interesting cross-app action.
The Developer Center?
Our last big tip from the WWDC seems to have flown under the radar a little. We’re not sure whether that’s because people think it’s a throwaway announcement that’s designed to placate app developers or whether it’s just not that interesting to the general public. The Developer Center is Apple’s gift to its developer community, a nerdy wonderland packed with the latest Apple technology, conference rooms named after macOS releases and a cutting-edge Big Sur theatre space.
Apple intends the centre to be a “world-class facility designed for our community to meet, collaborate with, and learn from our engineers, designers, and experts” (MacRumors). Precisely how it decides to utilise the centre to help and reward the community of developers that have made Apple products so successful over the years awaits to be seen. We hope Apple knows we’re sat here patiently awaiting our invites, just a shame we’re not based a little closer to Cupertino…
A rewarding WWDC – see you next year!
That’s it for our 2022 WWDC wrap-up. Of course, there are always a few things we didn’t have the space to mention (Apple Wallet upgrades and Apple Pay Later feature being the two biggies), but we’ve chosen to focus on those we think are likely to have the most significant impact on both developers and consumers.
Overall, it was a really interesting conference this year, with a lot less focus on their mobile technology. It shows how Apple are now heavily focused on their wider ecosystem of products. We’ll start exploring the Xcode betas as they are released this summer and start preparing for this years round of Autumn updates, watch this space for further updates as we get stuck into the code!