On Monday, Apple unveiled the next releases of each of its four major personal computing platforms—iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS—and unveiled a free app called Swift Playgrounds that brings the firm’s new development environment to the iPad.
Here’s a quick look at the announcements.
The next version of iOS is coming this fall, Apple says, and bumps the version number up to 10. Described as always as “the biggest release ever,” iOS 10 will include major updates to Siri and Messages, redesigned versions of several core apps, and other new features.
“iOS 10 [includes] delightful new ways to express yourself in Messages, a native app for Home automation, and beautifully redesigned apps for Music, Maps, and News that are more intuitive and more powerful, making everything you love about your iPhone and iPad even better,” Apple senior vice president Craig Federighi said in a prepared statement. “iOS 10 adds Siri intelligence into QuickType and Photos, automates your home with the new Home app and opens up Siri, Maps, Phone and Messages to developers — while increasing security and privacy with powerful technologies like Differential Privacy.”
Apple sent the longest slice of its iOS 10 time today, I believe, on Messages, its SMS/MMS/instant messaging solution. A lot of the changes will delight children and idiots—more expressive emoticons, full-screen animations and other silliness—and bear no discussion here. Of more import, I think, is that Apple is opening Messages to third party developers, meaning that Messages—like Skype, Google Allo, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and other chat solutions—is becoming a platform in its own right.
I’m also glad to see Apple redesigning its often terrible in-box apps. Apple Music could only be pretty and more usable, and while Apple has probably already lost most people to superior photo solutions like Google Photos, that app is looking good too.
I’ve been using the term macOS for the past few months, so I sort of forgot that Apple had not actually announced this change yet. It did so today: OS X is no more.
So the next release of Apple’s desktop OS is called macOS “Sierra.” It finally brings Siri to the Mac—sorry, Sherlock or whatever the frick you’re called now—plus interesting iCloud functionality that mirrors documents and other files on your Mac desktop to your i-devices.
“macOS Sierra is a major update that makes your Mac smarter and more helpful than ever with improvements to the apps you know and love and great new features throughout,” Mr. Federighi again allegedly said. “With macOS Sierra, you can get information, find files and multitask using Siri, access your Desktop and Documents from anywhere, copy and paste between Macs and iOS devices, and rediscover precious memories in Photos.”
Anyone using Windows 10 and Cortana will understand how Siri works on macOS, though of course the real audience is iOS device users. Of much more interest is the iCloud-based ability to save files to your Mac desktop and then have them sync automatically to your iPhone and iPad so you can just keep working from anywhere. And Continuity is being updated to support cross-device copy and paste through a new Universal Clipboard. You can easily copy and paste text, images, photos and video between your Mac and your iPhone and iPad, Apple says.
Other updates include tab support in multiple apps (Maps, Mail, Pages, Numbers, Keynote and TextEdit, and third party apps), picture in picture (currently available on iPad), Apple Pay on the web (meaning Safari), and a new Google Photos-like feature for the Photos app called Memories. You’ll be able to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch too, though I’d like to see Touch ID sensors on new Macs, too.
I haven’t been too impressed with the new Apple TV so far: The remote is terrible, and the hoped-for explosion of third party apps and subscription services hasn’t materialized.
Apple is too stubborn to replace the remote, but it has at least created a new Apple TV Remote app for iOS that provides all of the features of its hardware remote, and hopefully without the frustrating mis-swipes.
There was no talk of a new tVOS “version” per se, but Apple’s living room solution is being updated with a few redesigned apps, new Siri functionality—topic search for movies, YouTube search, HomeKit compatibility, and so on—and a single sign-in capability for pay TV apps.
“Once a user is signed into one network app, any other app on Apple TV from participating pay-TV providers will automatically log the user into all other supported apps requiring authentication,” Apple explains. “Any network-TV app can take advantage of this technology to enable single sign-on and simplify the process for their viewers.”
Nothing major, in other words.
Apple’s least useful platform is getting a bit more useful with watchOS 3, with improved performance—sorely needed—and better navigation. But the health-oriented updates are perhaps the most interesting, with support for wheelchair-bound users, a new Breathe app, and the ability to share, compare and compete in activities with friends, family or a personal trainer.
“Apple Watch is the ultimate companion for a healthy life and with watchOS 3, there’s now even more to love,” Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams said in a prepared statement. (Why Apple’s COO? Who the F knows.) “Favorite apps launch instantly and are simple to access, and the breakthrough new fitness and health features like the Breathe app make it feel like a whole new watch.”
Other new features include iOS 10-like messaging functionality, Smart Replies improvements, new watch faces, and access (through an iPhone) to emergency services such as 911.
Swift Playgrounds for iPad
This one is just awesomeness: Apple is releasing an iPad app called Swift Playgrounds that will let children or any beginning coder learn how to use Apple’s powerful Swift programming language in an interactive environment.
“Swift Playgrounds includes Apple-developed programming lessons where students write code to guide onscreen characters through an immersive graphical world, solving puzzles and mastering challenges as they learn core coding concepts,” Apple explains. “The app also features built-in templates to encourage users to express their creativity and create real programs that can be shared with friends using Mail or Messages or even posted to the web.”
The app even features a special coding virtual keyboard. Really cool.