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Apple WWDC19 – What’s new?

The first in a series of posts summarising the updates coming in Autumn 19 to Apple Products

Apple WWDC19 - What is it?

First up, what is this? As I’m sure a lot of you wonder what the big deal is about Apple WWDC. WWDC stands for World Wide Developer Conference. It’s an event that Apple hosts every year. 

Normally where they showcase up and coming software updates to their various operating systems and proprietary (own brand) software.

They kick-off the event with a keynote speech. This is where they drop all the big bombshells.  Normally naming the new version of their Mac Operating System (which they renamed from OSX to macOS last year).

This year’s Apple announcements

In this year’s announcements the macOS will be called Catalina.  There will be new versions of the iOS tvOS and watchOS operating systems. They also announced that the iPad will get its own operating system, called (original) iPadOS.

There were a lot of updates to features within each operating system which I’ll breakdown below. For those of you wanting to know when the updates will be coming out – they’ve said Autumn but not a specific date.

I’m part of their beta testing programme. Last year I skipped it, but I’ve decided to do all the testing this year.  Once the new products are released to the Beta Programme I’ll share updates.

If you’d like to keep up-to-date with my tech updates, please subscribe to my newsletter.

The series of posts and structure of this one

To make this update a bit more reader friendly, I’m splitting into a series of articles.  There’s a lot to cover.

Today I’m covering the app updates and new features that are going to be available across all or the majority of their OS.  

The next part will cover updates to iOS, then iPad OS, macOS and then anything that’s left over.

This article is broken down into the following sections:

iTunes Disappearing?

First up, however, I’ll address the thing that was in the news for a few days before the event. There was a rumour that Apple would be dropping iTunes from macOS. The press article in Rolling Stone was a little ambiguous.

Most of social media (aka a shit load of men) were behaving in utter hysteria. If iTunes was disappearing what would they do with all the music they’d bought or uploaded using iTunes Match*? What software would they use? How would they get all their music?

Aka a bunch of freakin’ drama llamas.

I read the article differently. On iOS & tvOS Apple has had separated platforms for TV, Music & Podcasts for a while. Having realised that as their product offering grew one platform wasn’t going to cut it.

To me, it simply read that they were standardising the apps across all their ecosystems.

Guess who was right?

Three “new” apps

What Apple are doing, is splitting iTunes into 3 apps on macOS.  You’ll get Music, TV and Podcasts. 

The interface design Music & Podcasts are identical.  The overall interface has been ‘tweaked’.  The design was something that was universally complained about.  Until I can test it I can’t say how good or bad it is. 

The TV app will have an interface that’s very similar to the one on tvOS. 

All your music, TV shows, films and podcasts will still be there.  

I also think (although I need to test it), that handoff will now work between iOS, iPadOS and macOS.  This might just be wishful thinking. 

*iTunes Match is a service that allows you to upload all your digital music files you’ve bought to their cloud.  It means your files will be served via iTunes or Music.  It’s an annual subscription service.

Photos

Do you, like me, have a Photos library of somewhere in the region of 20,000 photos? I’m not even a professional photographer, I just take a lot of photos of my dog.

Is your photo library also stuffed full of screenshots or photos of whiteboards?

Well, they’re putting their machine learning skills to a practical use and are going to declutter your photo library for you. Don’t worry, they don’t appear to be deleting photos you want to keep.  They’re simply creating a new way to showcase your best photos.

They’re also introducing enhanced features to highlight important moments, a bit like Facebook does. It’s not clear at the moment of whether you can control this. I will report back when I’ve had a look.

This feature will be available across all Apple devices that update to the latest operating system version.

Notes

I’ve found myself using Notes more and more recently, I use it a bit like Dumbledore uses a Pensieve.  By that I mean when I’m angry, upset or just need to remember a thought I’ve had, I write a note.  It’s much better than typing that email or message and not sending it.  No risk of accidentally hitting send.

Anyway, I digress, Notes is getting an updated interface. Notes will be easier to find and easier to share (you might want to ignore what I said at the end of the last paragraph). 

You’ll be able to share folders, collaborate on notes with other people and move notes around more easily.

I would imagine this is because they would like to compete with Evernote.  

Reminders

This one has been completely rebuilt. It has a new design, and a new way to create and manage your reminders.

They’ve also upped the ante with Siri being able to suggest new reminders found in messages.

Personally, this redesign can only be a good thing. I’ve not really used reminders because I found it a little primitive. Unfortunately the menopause is shredding my short term memory and I need to start creating reminders for myself. 

I often ask Siri to set reminders for me via my Homepod, but I find she creates new lists rather than appending existing ones. Hopefully this will fix it.

Safari

Not a complete redesign, but they have introduced an updated start page making it easier to access your favourites. 

They’ve also done more to integrate Siri suggestions from stored data on your devices.

I don’t use Safari – I genuinely don’t like the interface. 

Shock, horror, someone who loves using Mac Products, doesn’t like Safari. As I use Google apps, I’ve found Chrome easier to use (even if it eats my memory usage like a hipster on avocado toast).

Screen Time

I’ve not really used this app, mainly because I’m trying to build a business and am one of those “happy single childless” women. Aka I can spend as much or as little time as I choose on my devices.

However, that said, this app I understand is useful for controlling how much time children can spend with their faces glued to their devices.

Well, it’s coming to macOS. So you’ll be able to control how much time they spend on their laptops too.

But wait, there’s more 😉.

They’re introducing three new features. Communication Limits, Combined Limits and One More Minute.

Communication Limits

Communication limits, whilst I get it’s been designed with kids in mind, has other uses. Think of it as a way of globally muting people.

Essentially, you can stop your “kid” from communicating with certain people at certain times. Want them to focus on their homework and not chatting with their mates? That’s what this is designed for.

BUT! What about if you’re going through a break-up and you are tempted to send a message to your ex? Well, you could set this up to stop you from being able to do that. 

Not that I’m saying this from a place of that would be useful… who am I kidding, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

Combined Limits

Want a complete blanket control of how much ‘tech time’ your kids have? Well, this is for you.

It will mean you’ll be able to control how much time is spent on Apps across all devices. Pretty handy for parents, I guess. I don’t have that problem with the dog.

If I were using it, I’d set it up so I’d stay off social media while I’m trying to work. Also, maybe from checking it when I wake up in the morning so I get my arse out of bed. 

OK, so there are uses for it for adults too.

One More Minute

Times up, gotta get off the thing you’ve said you can’t go on… awesome. However, if you’re in the middle of replying to a message or need to save an important file.

One More Minute is a time limit manager to allow you to “snooze” it.

This will work really well if you’re the kind of person who jumps out of bed when your alarm goes off. 

If you’re the kind of person who hits snooze until you’re close to “lose”, maybe not so much.

Voice Control

Accessibility is something that takes a second seat in tech. Even when its whole existence should be used as a reason to level the field for people of all abilities.

Seeing what Apple are doing to make their OS more accessible is brilliant (although everyone, even Apple, still have a long way to go). 

Watching it being demoed by someone in a wheelchair with limited upper body movement gave a clear view of how it works.

I would genuinely like to get the views of someone who would use this feature.  Personally I can only imagine how helpful it is.  

Mail

Block Sender

One feature that gets used a lot in Messages, is the ability to block senders. 

I’ve got a bit of a marmite affinity with this feature. Someone has used it against me as a method to try and control me – then lied about doing it when they were called on it. 

Yet, I’ve used it to stop people being abusive towards me, and creepy men who just need to be cancelled.

Anyway, my point is, Apple have introduced the ability to block a sender. The email will be blocked and sent directly to the bin. Handy. 

The only issue with this is that in most cases, Apple Mail is used with 3rd party products, like Gmail or Exchange. Google allows you to block but the email goes to spam rather than the bin (which is just annoying).

Mute Threads

A feature that is often the cause of many meme’s or additional emails in a corporate environment… being part of an email chain you wish you weren’t part of. You guessed it, you’ll be able to mute threads that are causing your inbox to go bonkers.

Unsubscribe

You’ll also be able to unsubscribe from commercial emails from within the email header. This is a feature that Google has been using for a while. It’ll be nice to see this in an email client.

Improved Layout

The layout has been updated to allow you to preview current messages on the right.  Until I’ve had a chance to see this when the Beta version is released I can’t comment more than what Apple has shared.

Find my

This app / feature is combining two apps – Find My iPhone and Find My Friends. They’re aiming to make it easier to find all your devices and your friends. With any hope your devices and your friends aren’t off canoodling with someone.  

They’re also making it possible to find your device even if its offline. There’s some jiggery pokery going on with this. It aims to use other Apple devices as beacons to help locate the device if it’s near it.

I just hope that in combining these two things together there’s sufficient protection for victims of domestic violence or stalkers.

Sadly they still haven’t included the feature “find my marbles”.  But I guess there’s always an April Fools gag they could do. 

Which leads me onto…

Security & Privacy

Apple had a not-so-subtle dig at organisations that play fast and loose with our data & privacy (Facebook anyone?)

One feature that got a LOT of cheer was the new Sign-in with Apple Feature. Although I think they may be a little late to the party with this one.  They have added a feature that is awesome and frustrating, but I’ll get to that in a sec.

The reason why they’re late to the party, is that it’s been possible to login using Google, Microsoft or Facebook for a longtime.

Having one login you use to access everything isn’t new. In tech land it’s called Single Sign-on. If you’ve ever worked in an office you’ll know you have a network password that controls your access to things.

Facebook backlash

There has been a growing backlash with Facebook being needed to login or register to just about anything. Either that or brands track you using the Facebook pixel (see footnote). Facebook, it’s been clearly shown can’t be trusted with your data.

How Apple have sweetened this deal?  They’re making it possible for you to register and sign-in using Apple ID and they will anonymise your data. Introducing a feature users will love, but aren’t responsible for implementing is a devious (but clever) tactic.  You’ll nag brands until they update their product with it. Clever eh?

Once this has been launched, I’ll do a bigger deep dive on it from a personal and a business perspective. I’ve summarised what I know right now:

What does this mean in real terms?

Firstly, you don’t need to fill in lots of forms or create new passwords. You just opt to sign-in using Apple and after you’ve used Face or Touch ID, that’s it.

Next, if an app asks for you name and email address, Apple will create a unique one that forwards to your own one. This means the brand won’t get your email address.

Using Apple ID also means the apps won’t be able to track your activity and you control your data.

As a business owner, what does this mean for me?

You’ll still be able to communicate with your customers. You just won’t have their personal address.

I’ll give you a short summary of the tracking side of things here, but it’s a far bigger topic that needs its own post. It’s on my list, if you sign-up to my newsletter you’ll be the first to hear about it.

When it comes to tracking, this is where it gets complicated as I don’t have the full details. I do know a bit about how some of these things work, so let me try to summarise.

Wonder how brands follow you from one social media platform to another? Feel like you’re being stalked?

A short summary of what’s actually happening

First up, there’s tracking code. This can be anonymised to the point of your browser is being tracked. 

For those who have websites, this basic data is really helpful. It tells us what is and isn’t working on our websites.

There are now a type of tracking code that’s become more sophisticated. Facebook has one that tracks all your personal data. 

If you have a Facebook account you’ve shared a certain amount of personal data with them. Then websites that have the Pixel installed share their data with Facebook who then give them more detailed info.

At a certain point your email address is used to personalise data that’s collected.

Unless Apple are planning on making it impossible for app developers to track how you use their products, the privacy relates to email addresses. This simply means that orgs that play fast and loose with your data can’t build a holistic profile of you.

Footnote

I’m in the process of writing an article & updating my privacy policy

For a small amount of time, when I had no visitors, I had Facebook Pixel installed. I don’t any more. 

I’m aware this is a cardinal marketing sin, I just don’t like or trust Facebook. It’s a platform that exists simply because a frat boy got shunned by a woman and felt it was OK to start wholesale shaming women.

They have meddled in democracy and don’t give a crap about our privacy or data. Trust me, I don’t like being on there at all, but I’m a business and need to be where my tribe are. If there were another platform (aside from Twitter, which I prefer anyway – it has its own issues), I would use it.

The only tracking data I have is Google Analytics, and I don’t track personal information. 

The only personal information I gather is first name and email address for the purpose of sending newsletters. More data will be collected when I start taking payments for my courses

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