A lot has happened since Apple’s last Developer Conference; face masks have become a scarce commodity in this part of the world with the Covid-19 pandemic ultimately forcing this year’s new product showing to an online-only event.
The WWDC 2020 keynote began with Apple CEO Tim Cook taking to the live stream to address the audience about the Black Lives Matter movement and Apple’s initiatives to support the movement.
Tim Cook also spoke about the Covid-19 pandemic and he lauded the efforts of healthcare workers at the frontlines. Next, Apple’s SVP of engineering Craig Federighi then took to the stage to talk about iOS 14.
Here’s everything App announced during its WWDC keynote event.
iOS 14 Update: Home screen widgets, App library, Picture in picture mode and more
Unarguably, the most anticipated reveal of the night has to be an update to Apple’s native Operating System.
The first feature however, was the new App Library. Apple announced that this is essentially a folder system for iOS that allows you to organise apps in neat folders and can be accessed by swiping right and reaching the last screen. The App Library allows users to hide certain app pages while quickly search for apps too, via a search bar at the top.
The next surprise feature on show for the new iOS 14 is addition of Home Screen Widgets.
These widgets are better organised than before and you can even add these to the home screen. This dramatically changes the way your iOS home screen looks, something that has been pretty much the same since iOS was first launched. You can also add a Smart Stack widget that automatically shows you relevant widgets.
Quite suprising because it took Tim Cook and co. a lengthy 13 years to implement a feature that certain section of smartphone users have had for like decades.
An update is definitely an Up-Dirt right??!
The next feature Federighi announced was was Picture in Picture for iPhone.
Basically, this entails that whenever you open a video and minimise the app, the video continues playing in a small window on the iPhone.
We’ve seen something like this somewhere before…
Truth be told, Apple only made this feature exclusive to its iPad device before yesterday. Also, you can swipe to the side and audio continues playing on the side.
Apple also announced the introduction of guides in Apple Maps, and cycling directions in iOS 14.
Another nifty feature is EV routing, “which will help you avoid range anxiety in electric cars by picking the best path and helping you find charging stations,” Apple said.
The last notable iOS 14 feature for the night has to definitely be about the App Store which ultimately is my favorite yet.
When you don’t have an app you need, you can use a feature called App Clips to quickly run an app without installing it. These app clips will only stay on your iPhone as long as you need them.
App Clips are easier for businesses that have an iPhone, and these can be created by developers even if they don’t have an iPhone apps.
macOS 11: Big Sur
Big Sur is officially the name of the new macOS 11.
Takeaways from the reveal shows users will be getting a new redesign on the new Mac with new buttons, a Control Centre interface for basic controls such as Wi-Fi, dark mode, night shift, etc.
Apple also revealed new app icons for all default apps such as Finder. You also get redesigned apps such as Podcasts, Calendar, etc. The menu bar is translucent and menu layout has been updated too.
Messages on Mac is also getting new features such as better search, a redesigned photo picker to make sharing photos and videos easier. You also get Memoji on Messages on Mac. iMessage effects finally play on the Mac and the groups enhancements.
Apple Maps also comes with a redesigned on the Mac and you can create your own guides here too and check your airport gate with indoor maps and explore cities via the Look Around features.
AirPods Software Updates: Spatial Audio
Apple also announced a major feature update for its AirPods called automatic switching. Essentially, this allows you to switch between multiple Apple devices instantly.
If you get a call on your iPhone while watching a video on Mac, AirPods can auto switch to the iPhone and back once your call is done.
AirPods Pro is also getting spatial audio for more immersive sound experience. Spatial audio works with 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos audio.
Privacy Improvements: More control over your data.
Definitely another major talking point going into WWDC 2020 with the Cupertino-based company recently having to contend with series of cases on user privacy and data eavesdropping.
Federighi spoke about the new privacy features coming to the Apple ecosystem.
Now, users have the option to share approximate location instead of precise location with apps. Also, if your mic is being used to record, you’ll see it right in the status bar.
That is what you call making a statement!
Tracking control is another feature that will require apps to ask for your permission for tracking your data across websites or apps.
Every developer will also self-report their privacy practices and you will be able to see what data an app collects on the App Store.
Mac’s shift from Intel to Apple custom processors
There were rumours leading to this just before the keynote event yesterday and Apple just about confirmed it after all.
Having succeeded in building high-performance chipsets for iPhones, Apple is now switching its Macs to its own A-series chips.
This development started with the A5X and subsequent X improvements to the chips used in iPads. On the Mac you will get a family of SOCs designed specifically for Mac. Apple said it has used Xcode to optimise its first-party apps for Apple chips on Macs, and some of these apps are advanced such as Final Cut Pro.
Apple has created Universal 2 to make it easy to port apps to macOS running on Apple silicon. Microsoft and Adobe are also reportedly working on bringing on Office and Creative Cloud apps to Apple chipsets on macOS.
Federighi said he was using Macs with Apple silicon to demo things during WWDC 2020.
We also saw demos of apps such as Lightroom and Photoshop, running on Apple silicon on Macs. FCP can add effects to videos in real-time. It can play 3 streams of 4K footage at the same time on the A12Z chip that is designed for Mac.
macOS Big Sur also has Rosetta and Virtualisation features which will be useful for developers.
This is also good news for games as controllers are supported on Mac and existing games can be run on the Mac.
Now, I’ve had folks who vehemently advice against running Virtual machines on Macs. But Apple is kinda reassuring users they can access Linux, and run iPhone and iPad apps on Mac too. You can download iOS apps on the Mac App Store, and most apps will need no changes, Federighi said.
Of course you need to use a Mac with Apple silicon for this, and those are not available right now. For developers to get started, there is a quick start guide and private developer forums. Developers will get a 16GB RAM Mac Mini with an A12Z SoC to develop apps for this platform.
Now, this all looks promising but what the future does hold for Intel and the state of its shares is anyone’s guess.
Apple promises the first Macs with the A12Z chip will ship by the end of the year and Apple will complete this transition to A-series chips in two years.
Other features and software updates announced include; better multi-user support for tvOS 14, face sharing and a new fitness app for the watchOS 7 and improved handwriting support for the new iPadOS 14.
Apple says all OS releases will be available as a developer preview today, and in public beta in July, with final releases in the Fall, which is September and October 2020.
Facebook new web interface to become default UI starting September
Just as the updates keep coming thick and fast, Facebook has announced they it will no longer give the option to switch between Classic User Interface (UI) and New Facebook for its desktop version from September.
The development was first noted by Engadget who spotted the change on Facebook’s Help Center. The new Facebook UI redesign had drawn lots of applaud for the simple yet minimal view with offer of dark mode, tabbed home screen and a cleaner profile when it was made available to select users in March.
It’s pretty crazy but this is a social site which has seen the most of redesign along the way.
When the new design for Facebook was officially rolled out globally in May, users had an option to switch between New Facebook (the redesign) and Classic Facebook (the older version) from the Settings option.
However, starting September(couple days to go), Facebook plans to make the new design a default UI for all web users. The updated Facebook UI is already available to Android and iOS users.
“We’ve made improvements to the new Facebook.com and we’re excited for everyone to experience the new look. Before we make the classic Facebook unavailable in September, we hope that you’ll let us know how we can continue to make Facebook better for everyone,” Facebook in its update said.
How to switch from Classic Facebook Version to the New Redesign
As of now, web users trying to switch to the Classic Facebook from the New Facebook, Facebook is first presented with a pop up page asking for a feedback.
Facebook then asks its users if they are “switching back because of missing features?” Once users select Yes, they get a list of features they miss and also get the option to add more features to the list.
Whichever rout the user eventually opts to take, Facebook ensures it balances out the old Facebook features with the redesign.
Talking about features, here’s a list of few notables from the new Facebook redesign.
No arguing the ‘Dark Mode’ had come to stay either for web or mobile users and Facebook also ensured it made that a permanent component in it’s redesign too.
With the sole promise of reducing glare, the low brightness will be easier on the eyes with contrast and vibrancy. The dark mode also proves advantageous to desktop users using Facebook in low light.
In addition to this, the layout has been tweaked, too, to get better watching experience. Facebook users will have the option to switch to the dark mode only with the redesign.
The layout is cleaner with streamlined navigation through tabs and this will be on top of a home screen. The site will be decluttered as the fonts are likely bigger with neater layouts.
Facebook has also added a Preview option in the new UI wherein users can see what a group or a page would look like before actually creating it.
More focus would be laid upon the service’s Groups features, and emphasis would be upon Facebook’s Watch, Marketplace, and Gaming sections in its top navigation bar as their buttons appear right on top in the new interface.
Facebook had noted that the new redesign will bring with it features that will help its users find or navigate things conveniently. Be it groups, games, people or pages, the redesign will help users discover things faster. The pages will load faster and that the desktop experience will be close to using Facebook on mobile.
However, my experience with the new interface was pretty jagged as it loaded quite lazily from my PC making me feel this lot would not only have problems functioning appropriately on a low-end gadget but also will be packing a barrage of cache files on your system.
WhatsApp reportedly will let users Sync and access chat history across multiple devices
Who fancies a day we’ll be having a conversation on WhatsApp supporting synchronizing chat history and contact’s on multiple devices?Not meHowever, information circulating the web suggests that a feature that enables users WhatsApp chats to be backed up across multiple devices once the multiple device feature is live.So, this means, you should be able to continue a chat from another device, once you are logged in on multiple devices. This has for long been a present feature on Facebook Inc. other apps – Instagram and Facebook but entirely missing on WhatsApp.Recently it was reported that a user will be able to use his WhatsApp account across multiplied devices. The limit for these devices will be 4. It looks like when a user logs in on these devices, his/her chat will be backed up across all the devices.The complications with implementing this has so far looked unattainable buy then, you never know in the world of tech.
WhatsApp Chat History Multi Device Sync – How possible?
Up until at least this latest reveal, a user could only use a WhatsApp account on a single smartphone. Else, one would’ve to uninstall or sign out of a particular device to be able to use on another due to the encryption system which WhatsApp utilizes.Things however looks set for a memorable change if WhatsApp could engineer an Adobe Creative Cloud kind of Sync system.Although the option to use WhatsApp for web by scanning a QR code on the desktop app via the mobile app to create the sync has proven to be a worthy addition since.The multiple device support will be across Android and iOS devices. According to wabetainfo , “When someone adds a new device in his WhatsApp account, you will be notified because encryption keys change”.Wabetainfo further adds that WhatsApp could do with a minor addition to its push notifications system. When someone adds a new device in his WhatsApp account, you will be notified because encryption keys change.Moreover, Whatsapp allows for chat backup to either Google drive or custom cloud storage and that could eventually be a deal breaker. This still would need some refinements here and there and ultimately looks a way off public release any sooner but, you never write of the tech ecosystem.One could wake up tomorrow to a solemn endpoint app that just about solves this problem.Also WhatsApp has been working on adding new features for its users, releasing couple significant additions to its user experience as well as the interface at large.Reports suggest WhatsApp is rolling out a new feature called ‘search the web’ to fight fake news. The new feature the source said is an easy way to verify any forwarded message on WhatsApp, however, it is not available to global users yet.WhatsApp is also reportedly working on a Mute Always option so users can mute a group or chat forever if they like. Till now, users have had to resort to a minimum of 8hr mute or maximum 6month mute option for those silly broadcast. This feature however negative it might seems can still be revoked from the Unblock user session present in WhatsApp setting.WhatsApp has also increased the limit of group video calling from 4 people to 8. They did this when the every nation went into hibernation and subsequent lockdown and people were using video chat options to stay in touch with family and friends in addition to colleagues for work.However, remember, to be able to talk to 8 people, all of them need to update the app.What do you make of WhatsApp imminent feature? A miss or one hell of overdue Integration? Let’s hear in the comments section.