With major updates to both Apple's mobile and desktop operating systems expected to emerge from behind veils of secrecy, this year's World Wide Developers Conference was poised to be one of the most exciting yet — and Apple did not disappoint.
To recap, let's take a look at the highlights from WWDC 2016:
The most notable update to Apple's desktop operating system this year comes not from any aesthetic or functional feature, but from its name. Apple announced that it is ditching the OS X moniker for the simpler label of "macOS." Now, all of Apple's major operating systems (macOS, iOS, watchOS and tvOS) are aligned.
More than superficial, this continuity is reflected in the newest iterations of the software. The latest version of macOS, dubbed "Sierra," resembles iOS more than ever. The all-new Universal Clipboard allows users to copy and paste between Apple devices for the first time. Plus, Siri will make its desktop debut on Sierra, allowing users to search and control their computers using voice commands.
watchOS speeds up Apple Watch
Some wearable fanatics hoped Apple would introduce an all-new Apple Watch at this year's WWDC. While there was no new hardware to be found, the wearable's new operating system promises to bring a major upgrade to existing Apple Watch units. First and foremost, watchOS 3 brings a turbo boost to an operating system that has been criticized for its sluggish performance. According to Apple, the new OS will load apps as much as seven times faster than previous versions, using background refresh and local storage to improve performance across the board.
The software update will also add a host of features to the wearable, including:
- Control Center: Similar to the iOS tool, a simple swipe up gives users quick access to certain settings and commands.
- "Scribble": The new keyboard will allow wearers to reply to texts with custom messages. With the interface too small for a standard keyboard, "Scribble" requires users to draw individual letters. This will likely be too cumbersome for lengthy notes, but should prove handy for quick responses.
- SOS: When activated, this emergency response system will automatically dial 911 and send location information to the appropriate authorities. Plus, it will display any relevant medical information the patient has on file. To activate, the user simply has to press and hold the side button on his or her Apple Watch.
iOS 10 changes the iPhone experience
iOS 10 makes its mark before users even unlock their iPhone or iPad. A new "raise-and-wake" feature shows notifications as soon as the device is lifted. From the lock screen, users can interact directly with each notification, replying to a text or opening the corresponding app using 3D Touch. This update is also far more than aesthetic – it fixes a common issue in which recently improved TouchID unlocked iPhones so quickly that users were unable to read their notifications. The new lock screen will also bid adieu to the familiar "Slide to Unlock" feature that has endured since the original iPhone. Instead, a swipe to the left will open the Camera, and a swipe right will lead users to an updated Siri Suggestions page.
For the first time, iMessage will now sport a number of dynamic features, such as stickers, disappearing messages and more powerful predictive text. Plus, developers will now have access to iMessage, allowing them to go beyond the third-party keyboard model and create apps that can run within iMessage's new App Drawer. iOS 10 will also include a number of major updates to other native apps, including Music, News, Maps and Photos.
Apple Pay moves beyond iPhone
In a long-awaited announcement, Apple confirmed that its mobile wallet will expand to cover purchases made on the web. Retailers can now add an Apple Pay API to their checkout environment, giving consumers the option to pay with TouchID or a tap of their Apple Watch. This will eliminate the time-consuming process of entering credit card details for purchases on new sites, potentially boosting conversion rates for participating merchants.
tvOS gets smoother than ever
One of Apple's most forgotten offerings, Apple TV is perhaps changing more rapidly than any other Cupertino product. The new operating system boasts a single sign-on feature, allowing users to log into all of the 1,300 video channels and 6,000 apps the set top box brings their TV. By removing the barrier between channels and expanding voice search to every video the system can access, the new tvOS is the most intuitive and easy-to-use yet.