WWDC is Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference where developers attend discussion sessions and meet with Apple engineers.
At last year’s conference, several big announcements were made, including lock screen updates, stage manager, focus mode upgrades, expanded live text functionality and SharePlay.
At the WWDC 2023, many new features were pitched directly to retail consumers, but it’s important to explore how these new features can be applied to your business as well.
Apple announced new hardware to take development and design to the next level with sheer performance, software that can make collaboration easier and more efficient, new ways to build apps and experiences across different platforms, and new tools to reinforce your brand image at every step of communicating with your clients.
The Keynote kicked off with new products in the MacBook, Mac Studio, and Mac Pro product lines.
The 15” MacBook Air was announced first.
This product is a great fit for on-the-go graphic design consultants and art coordinators.
It provides an extremely light workstation while still offering a larger display and processor for design work.
It also offers a great microphone, camera, and speaker system for frequent video with clients.
“The headphone jack still being supported in such a thin laptop is surprising, but I’m sure appreciated by those who find that there’s nothing quite like the quality of wired headphones, myself included,” explains Matt Giallorakis, Haneke’s Lead Mobile Developer.
The new Mac Studio M2 Ultra really raises the question “are we beyond the days of needing full tower-sized computers to do even the most computationally-expensive tasks?”
The fact that a commercially available computer smaller than a tissue box can drive 6 professional displays with 192GB of unified memory really puts into perspective how much Apple is changing the game.
“As for the maxed out Mac Pro tower, I personally don’t understand why this is a commercially available product. If you need this level of performance, you’re probably already part of a multi-million dollar company that could hire a team of Apple engineers to set up your entire studio,” says Matt.
Advanced Collaboration Tools
New features and improvements for messaging and presentations were announced that rival the quality of professional video conferencing suites.
The new reactions feature for video calling and live stickers for messages could be used to make team interactions more inviting and collaborative.
Additionally, having the ability to tag messages and notes with custom images has a lot of potential.
For internal business use, custom icons representing departments or people could be used to tag messages for organization or quick responses.
FaceTime can be great for explaining visual concepts without having to set up a video-call-enabled meeting.
And now the fact that the video will be recorded for later reference will make making the call in the first place even more effective.
The audio message transcription seems like a great tool for accessibility as now it’s possible to both send and receive asynchronous messages as both audio and text all in the same messaging app.
New Ways to Experience Programs
Many of the new programs and features announced were accompanied by dedicated APIs and Toolkits for developers to create app interactions that spread across the multiple ways iPhones and iPads are used, and even across platforms.
Apple’s new StandBy and SmartStack features give another powerful reason for app developers to look into creating widgets for their apps, something that many developers overlook as there aren’t many use cases that absolutely require widgets.
But they can be great for increasing utility and engagement with your apps, even when the user isn’t even directly interacting with their phone.
With cross-platform game development engines and similar chipsets, the distinction between operating systems for game developers closed, but was opened back up when Apple decided to make their own Apple Silicon chipset.
With the GamePorting Toolkit, developers now have tools to adapt their game to make full use of Apple Silicon.
Finally, the opening of AirPlay, Continuity Camera, and Workout APIs to developers is truly encouraging, as it allows us to leverage the entire Apple ecosystem of devices.
Apple announced some new personalization features that at first, may seem gimmicky, but allows for new opportunities to shape your experiences with your clients.
By leveraging the video tailored hardware on the new 15” MacBook Air, and the new presenter overlays, you can ensure your company has a professional and articulate persona when meeting with clients.
Custom stickers and contact posters are also a great way of leveraging your brand identity and personalizing your interactions with your clients, even before they answer your first call.
There were also some features announced that aren’t so much innovative as they are about clearing out the feature backlog or catching up to other platforms.
Being able to leave messages on FaceTime has been a long-awaited feature, the lack of profile support in Safari and fitness apps on the iPad has been noticeable, and Android has had interactive widgets for over a decade.
“I’m also surprised that the Health app and HealthKit weren’t brought to iPad years ago, but it also makes sense why adding it wasn’t prioritized (I mean, who is going out for a morning jog with their iPad?),” remarks Matt Giallourakis.
Security and Potential Problems
Finally, Apple announced some features that may turn out to be problematic in the future, the first being live voicemail transcriptions.
Live voicemail gives users the ability to see a real-time transcription as someone leaves a voicemail.
It also provides people the opportunity to pick up while the caller is leaving their message.
“Live transcription seems somewhat problematic to me. I could see us returning to the days of auto-dictation voicemail recorders, where any impatient call was started with “pick up the phone, I know you’re there,” explains Matt.
Additionally, Apple announced a new Journal app and Suggestions API.
The Suggestions may turn out to be controversial, as it seems to be a way for Apple to commoditize your intangible personal information, such as experiences, aesthetics, and values.
But at least it’s an official Apple API, which may mean these will be treated as securely as your tangible personal information (that require OS permissions to apps to be able to use), such as your location, contacts, and calendar.
“I have to imagine the Suggestions API was created first, and the Journal app was made as a justification of how it could be used.”
Apple also announced some big changes to AirDrop.
“From a security perspective, AirDrop has always felt strange to me, as I feel if I leave the system on, I’m opening the door to someone downloading files to my device now, or via a security hole in the future. Adding the ability to continue file downloads after leaving the AirDrop radius doesn’t make me feel any better about it.”
Passkey Sharing was also announced at this year’s conference.
The password and passkey sharing feature was also surprising to see native support for. Normally you have to use a dedicated 3rd party service like LastPass to manage passwords between people.
It’s always good to see when services are end-to-end encrypted, but it’s important to remember that that doesn’t mean much if one of the endpoints is potentially unsafe, such as that one friend that keeps their laptop unlocked.
Additionally, even with the ability to choose what sources of information Journal and the Suggestions API has access to and what passkeys to share with your friends, most people are unaware how much private information can be inferred from things or accounts that you wouldn’t otherwise mind sharing with anyone.
Last, but certainly not least, one of the biggest announcements Apple made at this year’s conference was the Apple Vision Pro – Apple’s new mixed reality headset.
In fact, this announcement was so big & it’s impact is so vast that we felt it deserved it’s own article, so stay tuned to learn more about the Apple Vision Pro and what it means for developers.