Thu Jun 30, 2022
What more could you ask for from Apple’s WWDC than a plethora of Craig Federighi (aka Hair Force One) memes? From Craig’s hair blowing in the wind to Craig in a garish tracksuit - we got it all.
Apple’s video production team proves once again that online video presentations are more fun for Apple fans who could never afford to attend in person.
Although Apple did invite a group of both developers and journalists to attend, it was only to watch the video presentation outside while getting painfully toasted in the Californian sun. Not really worth the expense, in my opinion, even if you got to eat croissants in the Apple Park café.
Who knows what next year will bring. But, for now, I’m enjoying the cheeky transitions and faster pace of a pre-recorded show.
As is tradition around here, here are my personal thoughts and impressions of what went down. For a full detailed rundown, head over to your favourite tech journalism site…
WWDC is a software extravaganza (this year, however, there was a hardware surprise) and is always more frivolous than the serious hardware announcements in September.
Let’s start with iOS 16.
Hands down, the best new feature announced was the redesigned lock screen. Not only is the layout improved, with new notifications appearing at the bottom, but you can now pick and choose fonts, photo filters, widgets to create what is essentially your own magazine cover page.
The depth effects are impressive, with text appearing in a layer behind images with a masking effect. Apparently the depth effects aren’t exclusive to Portrait photos either. I can’t wait to try it out.
Other upcoming features include focus filters, the ability to edit and un-send messages, improved dictation (you can type and talk simultaneously), and this cool photos trick where you can remove a subject from a background with one touch.
WatchOS 9 brings a few new watch faces -alright, alright, alright. And there are a lot more metrics for runners, including heart-rate zones and interval training. The sleep app will show you sleep stages, such as REM and deep sleep.
The best new watchOS 9 feature? Medication tracking, including drug interaction alerts. If I make it to my 90s, you bet I’ll be wearing an Apple Watch. Assuming, of course, that old me can afford one.
For present-day me, though, it’s great to see ongoing improvements to my Series 6.
The marquis feature on iPadOS 16 was a multitasking paradigm called Stage Manager. Featuring a sidebar of open apps, this feature really shines when you attach a keyboard, a mouse, and an external display. The external monitor becomes an additional display (not just a mirrored display as is the case now) with bona-fide resizable windows.
Oh, and the weather app finally makes its way to the iPad!
On MacBooks and iMacs, macOS Ventura also brings Stage Manager, along with the usual improvements to staple apps like Spotlight, Mail, and Safari.
Perhaps the best (and worse) feature of macOS Ventura is the ability to mount your iPhone on the top of your display to use it was a webcam.
Apple CarPlay gets the award for the most surprising update - a full-on invasion of the car’s entire instrument cluster, assuming that your new car only uses displays for its instrument cluster - and I actually don’t know of any. Come to think of it, this announcement is either vaporware or has something to do with the rumoured Apple Car project. But just look at it - it’s glorious.
Finally, that leaves Apple’s tvOS… except there were no updates announced for tvOS. I think it’s safe to say that the overpriced Apple TV hardware will continue down the road of redundancy to the destination of irrelevancy.
Naturally, after the dust settled on the fast-and-furious eye candy of the keynote, everybody started digging into the details and the disgruntled mumbling began.
First in line with a legitimate grievance are iPhone 7 owners who got shafted with an early iOS version cut-off. I knew my iPhone 6S wouldn’t make it to iOS 16, but I wasn’t expecting the 7 to lose support too. My sympathies, iPhone 7, for your sudden death.
When I recently switched to a refurbished iPhone XS, I made a crucial error in my analysis, erroneously stating that “Apple has never dropped support for two iPhone generations at the same time”. This statement is incorrect as both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 did not get iOS 13. So, axing two generations does indeed have precedent.
I did estimate about three more years of support for my XS (until the end of 2024) and actually accounted for “a major shake-up like dropping the 6S and 7 at the same time” in my analysis. That guess turned out to be bang on.
Incidentally, I hadn’t even heard about the Chris Evans iPhone 6S meme until now. Major respect for the guy and - how delightful, rocking the 6S all this time just like me (although he held out even longer than I could). Apparently, he is singing his swan song for the 6S and finally upgrading. I can definitely relate to the sudden battery drops.
Anyway, second in the grievances line has to be those who bought an iPad Pro in 2020 fully expecting their pricey hardware to eventually support the multitasking improvements they were asking for. However, the answer to their prayers, Stage Manager, requires the M1 chip, which arrived on iPads just last year.
It’s a big controversy and I won’t get into it here, suffice to say that anybody looking for a an actual computer that can run desktop-class apps should skip the iPad Pro and buy a MacBook instead. Apple hasn’t quite figured out how to make the iPad “pro” quite yet and the teething process is very expensive.
Third in line is me.
My 2015 MacBook Pro will not be getting macOS Ventura. It still runs fine and I have no complaints with it, so I don’t have any immediate plans to upgrade. The 2015 MacBook Pro turned out to be one of the finest laptops Apple ever made. It was followed by six years of inferior design until last year’s excellent return to form.
But I hate to have another device drop off the support list, leaving only my iPhone XS and Apple Watch Series 6 new enough to support the latest software versions.
Now seems like a good time to bring up this year’s “hardware surprise” - a redesigned MacBook Air with an M2 chip. If there was ever a temptation for newly-obsolete MacBook owners like me, then this is it. The impossibly-thin, midnight-blue machine looks so very lovely. But, I don’t do anything too intensive with my MacBook nor do I use it for work. With a starting price of $1500 CAD, upgrading now just for extra-snappy web browsing doesn’t make any sense. There was also a MacBook Pro updated with the M2 chip, but it’s not worth talking about as it uses the loathsome 2016 design.
For gaming, which is more intensive, I still have the PC I got for free last year and the free games keep rolling in on the Epic Games Store. The plummet in Bitcoin’s value has finally ended the GPU extortion, so I picked up a new GTX 1650 to significantly upgrade my gaming experience. I got a low-power 75W model that is powered from the PCI-E slot instead of connecting directly to the power supply (which I couldn’t do without upgrading the power supply). I recently played Alan Wake in 60 fps with ultra graphics settings turned up to max - it was a blast.
I’d like to get a PS5 one day, but almost two years after launch, they still aren’t in stock. I’m starting to think I’d be better off waiting for the next gen.
We’re getting down to the nit-picking level now, but fourth in line for mild disappointment are iPhone 8 and X users. Many of the new iOS 16 features require the A12 Bionic (or later) chip. This was the case last year too (and the reason I thought the XS was solid), but this year even more so. The dividing line is clear: the A11 chip in the iPhone 8 and X is based on a 10 nm process, whereas the A12 moved to 7 nm. Great to see my XS still fully supported though.
And finally, fifth in the would-have-been-nice line are those who were hoping for an AR/VR software reveal. Widely touted as “the next big thing”, an Apple-made VR headset, and eventually AR glasses, is rumoured to be on the imminent horizon.
The name floating around for Apple’s AR software is “realityOS”, so it is out there. But AR wasn’t even mentioned in the keynote and there were no awkward demos this year of developers holding up their iPads and building virtual Lego. Maybe next year?
That’s it for June. We’re heading into the summer months now, aka known as tech-detox time, and spending more time outdoors, swimming, camping - all that good stuff. I wish you and your family all the best until next time.