4 Key Takeaways From Apple’s 2018 WWDC | Tech News

Apple’s annual four-day Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) was all about improving the performance of its software. Aside from the discussion of specific features, the tech giant manifested some larger aspirations for its business in the opening keynote spanning themes of curbing tech addiction, enhancement of privacy and security, AR development, and much more.

Check out our recap below:

Joining the “Time Well Spent” Movement

Apple is taking a page out of Facebook’s “time well spent” book by rolling out its own suite of features to help us kick our smartphone addictions and relinquish of our fears of FOMO.

“It [phone usage] has become such a habit that we might not recognize how distracted we’ve become,” said the senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi.

To help us cut down on the clutter and make healthier, wiser choices when we reach for our phones, Apple is introducing a new feature dubbed “Instant Tuning,” which enables users to customize their notifications, group them by topic, app, and thread. These notifications will appear in a bundle as opposed to appearing one after another and can be managed by a single swipe from your lock screen and notification enter.

Specifically, and per the name of the feature, you can tune notifications by electing to “Deliver Quietly,” sending them directly to the notification center without having to actually go through the process of typing in your passcode, or turn them off altogether. Siri is also getting an update so that any apps you haven’t used in a while will be automatically turned off.

In addition, Apple is enhancing Do Not Disturb by silencing your phone and hiding all notifications until you tap the phone in the morning. You’ll also be able to set specific start and end times for DND mode through the control center. For instance, if you have an event on your calendar like a meeting, you can set a designated start and end time for DND that aligns with the event.

Finally, with iOS 12 users will be able to set limits for individual apps, for instance, one hour for Instagram, in a feature called “App Limits.” You’ll automatically be notified when you’re five minutes from running out of the allocated time followed up by a “time’s up” message when the timer is up. If you want to continue using that application, you can simply tap a button to request more time.

In the same vein of time monitoring, iOS is getting an update in the form of an activity breakdown with “Screen Time.” Details provided will include how much time you’re spending a week on certain apps, how many notifications a week you receive from each app, and how much time you spend on particular categories of apps.

Image via The Verge

Visual Communication

Serving as a hybrid between an Animoji and a Bitmoji, Apple introduced Memoji where users will be able to create characters customized to look exactly like them from basic features like hair and skin color all the way to hand-picked details such as their face shape, hairstyle, freckles, and eyewear. These cartoons mimic your actual facial expressions like tongue movement.

Image via CNN

Speaking of FaceTime, the company’s native video chat app will soon support group chats of up to 32 people across iOS and macOS. When a specific person is speaking, their video window will become larger and shrink when someone else chimes in. For added fun, Apple’s camera effects will be usable in FaceTime so you can use face filters, sticks, Animoji, and Memoji while chatting.

Image via The CNN

Finally, the Photos app in iOS 12 is getting a makeover with new updates that leverage machine learning to generate grouped photo collections and provide sharing and search suggestions. For example, if you went on a trip to Italy and titled the album, “Italy trip,” you’d receive a prompt to share the folder with anyone tagged in the photos that make up the album. When these individuals receive these photos, they’ll be prompted to share back their own content from the event. Moreover, a “For You” tab will offer suggestions for filters and effects to apply to your images.

Imaged via WIRED

Privacy & Security

A consistent topic across all major tech and social platforms holding developer conferences this year is privacy, and Apple certainly wasn’t an exception at this year’s WWDC.

Federighi announced several new privacy and anti-tracking features exclusive to the Safari browser. These include auto-blocking of comment fields and “share” or “like buttons.To no surprise, these are notoriously used to track people’s browsing history and serve them ads. Mojave, the company’s next macOS named after the Desert, will also come equipped with new features to fight “fingerprinting” a tactic used by some data companies to track users based on identifying their specific machine. Finally, all apps on iOS will now require the user’s permission to use the camera, microphone, their location data, and more.

Augmented Reality & On-Device Intelligence

Currently, the global augmented reality market is expected to grow to approximately 90 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. With this figure in mind, it isn’t surprising that Apple announced a few updates that will harness its power.

Primarily, a new app called Measure will allow users to accurately measure objects or walls around you. To do so, users will simply put the object they want to measure in the camera frame, tap and drag to trace out a line, and the phone then gauges the dimensions.

Apple also introduced ARKit 2. For reference, ARKit is the name designated to the company’s suite of developer tools for AR. ARKit 2 will come with additional face-tracking technology and 3D object detection and allow for “shared” experiences. The company also shared that in collaboration with Pixar, a new file format called USDZ will be available that allows developers to more easily integrate AR, primarily the experience of sharing animations, across iOS and Apple’s ecosystem of apps.

One example of this functionality in action is depicted below, where Lego app users can hold iOS device over their Lego set to play a multiplayer game with friends and family members.

Image via WIRED

“We’re using advanced algorithms to make AR even more engaging and on-device intelligence to deliver faster ways to get things done using Siri,” stated Federighi.

With the new iOS, users can create custom voice commands that Siri can then utilize to carry out multiple commands. For example, you can record and store the phrase “I lost my keys,” so whenever you say it, Siri will tap into your Tile app triggering it to show you where your keys are.

Siri will also be able to suggestions based on the items on your lock screen and your usage habits like ordering a daily morning coffee from Starbucks, or sending a text to a specific coworker if you’re running late to work. 

To watch the keynote in full, head on over to Apple’s Special Event page for June 4th.

Interested in exploring these topics and themes further? Join us June 12-14 at SMWLA at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. If you can’t attend the conference in person, sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

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