The WWDC keynote is finally over, and if we learned one thing, it’s that Apple has fundamentally changed. Most of the news from the developer’s conference wasn’t too earth-shattering: there were no new apps being ported to Android, no allusions to any Apple hardware whatsoever, and Tim Cook even seemed a little off during his presentation.
But throughout the keynote presentation you could sense an undeniable change in vision—Apple is finally opening up. What began with small updates in iOS 8 when third-party developers were given access to keyboards and widgets has now reached its zenith with iOS 10. Apple is now opening major applications like Siri and Messages to third-party developers.
Apple also finished its years-long quest to bring Siri to every conceivable Apple platform, and even watchOS and tvOS got some attention. Here’s all the stuff we liked (and didn’t like) from WWDC 2016.
Best: Siri is now on macOS
First off, Apple renamed OS X to macOS. But the usual desktop demo dude Craig Federighi spent the most time during the keynote focusing on Siri.
It’s nothing revolutionary compared to what Microsoft has been doing with Cortana on Windows 10, but the inclusion of Siri on macOS means Apple’s virtual assistant is now available on every Apple product. Siri’s inclusion on all Apple devices make it easier than ever before to jump between a Mac laptop, desktop, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.
If you were thinking “new name, new Macbooks,” you were sorely disappointed. Like most WWDCs, Apple stuck strictly to the software side of things. This doesn’t mean we’ll never get new Macbook Pros—we may get them very soon even—but we’ll have to wait longer after what’s already been a very long wait.
Best: iOS opens up to developers
With Siri, Maps, and Messages, Apple is giving developers unprecedented access to building apps on these platforms. It goes without saying that this access will make these once closed-off applications infinitely more useful. Just the ability to voice dictate to Siri with specific functions within certain apps makes the assistant an actual useful assistant.
Of course, developers will still need time to build in that functionality, but it’s undeniably a big +1 for habitual users of iOS.
[NOTE: There were so many iOS updates, it’d be insane to list everything we loved and hated. So read this instead.]
There is always room for improvement, and iOS is still missing some glaring features after 10 complete iterations of the operating system. One of those features is dark mode. Apple introduced the feature as part of tvOS this year, paving the way for it to come to iPhone as well. But Federighi was completely silent on the subject. Also, split-screen multitasking on iPhone still remains stubbornly MIA.
Apple usually talks about more new software when launching new iPhones in the fall, so we’re not quite done with iOS just yet.
Best: Messages gets serious about the upcoming chat wars
Facebook is tirelessly updating Messenger, and Google is launching an all-out assault with its new text and video apps. Apple isn’t wasting time either, and added more features to its popular messaging service than ever before.
At the heart of this update is opening Messages to developers and creating an app store for the platform. Apple’s also integrated new stuff like a live camera feed when you want to share a photo, the ability to resize texts fonts and apply short animations to messages, and also the ability to obscure photos and texts for more “dramatic” communication. It’s a lot of stuff, but no must-have features that’ll make you ditch other chat apps already out there.
This. Sucks. It was likely a long shot to begin with, but rumors began circulating late last week that Apple was toying with the idea of releasing Messages for Android. One the one hand, it would take away one of the iPhone’s best exclusive features. But if Apple has hopes of competing with platform agnostic messengers like Facebook, Snapchat, and Google, then opening up might not only be wise but inevitable. Unfortunately, it looks like Messages will stay in-house at least another year.
Best: Apple TV is way less annoying
Last year, tvOS made a big move by finally embracing an app store. Now, Apple is tweaking tvOS to make the little set top box less annoying. The big new feature is called Single Sign-On, which makes signing into new apps much easier because you no longer need to deal with typing authentication codes in separate browsers over and over and over. But Apple didn’t stop there. The Apple TV remote now has an iPhone app as well (thank god) and a dark theme, meaning Apple TV’s UI won’t blind you needlessly as you binge-watch Netflix in your black-out bedroom.
Rumors circulated for some time that Amazon was finally building a tvOS app for Prime users. Unfortunately, Apple made no mention of the new app. Apple also made no mention of trying to become its own internet-television service like PlayStation Vue or Sling TV, though Apple did announce a new Sling TV app. For now, Apple TV remains just a machine for your various entertainment apps rather than an all-in-one entertainment service.
Best: WatchOS is much more useful
Apple opened WWDC by focusing on watchOS. The highlights included faster app loading, a new dock function, a texting system called “Scribble,” and a shortcuts feature that basically copies iOS’s control center. Apple also made two new health apps focusing on activity sharing and deep breathing (which is concerning). Nothing that’s going to make you run to the Apple store to get a new wristputer per se, but evidence that Apple Watch is slowly maturing into a useable OS.
One of the most highlighted new features for the Apple Watch is called Scribble, allowing you to write letters on the Apple Watch screen that are then translated into digital text. Cool! But also a feature already on Android Wear..oh..and a Palm Pilot from the late 90s. Innovation at its finest!