WWDC Recap: Apple Intelligence, iOS 18 and More

Jun 12, 2024Tahreem Sheikh
WWDC Recap: Apple Intelligence, iOS 18 and More

It’s that time of year again… Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference just went live covering major software updates on all of Apple’s operating systems. Let’s just say, this was one of the most jam-packed Developer Conferences we’ve seen in the past few years, with some exciting announcements that will inform the direction Apple takes with its products in the future.

At the forefront of all updates was AI. That’s right -  Apple Intelligence! Oh you thought we were talking about Artificial Intelligence? It wouldn’t be very “Apple” of them to not brand their AI features now would it? In all seriousness, AI has been the talk of the town for all major tech products over the past year or so and it was no different for Apple’s WWDC this year. In addition to AI, Apple announced huge upgrades for all their operating softwares including visionOS, iOS, watchOS, iPadOS, macOS as well as Apple’s Audios and Home platforms.

If you don’t have the time to read the full article, here are some of the key takeaways and most exciting features for each OS. We may or may not have used AI to summarize the following ;)

Personalization in iOS 18:

  • Customizable lock screen shortcuts.
  • Ability to move app icons and widgets freely.
  • Customizable app icon colors.

Privacy Enhancements in iOS 18:

  • Lock or hide individual apps or folders.
  • Control over what information apps share with other apps.
  • Secure device connection limiting access to network devices.

Satellite Support in Messages:

  • Send and receive SMS or iMessages without Wi-Fi or cell service.
  • RCS support for messaging with Android users.

Redesigned Photos App in iOS 18:

  • Improved photo organization with "collections."
  • Automatic filtering of clutter like screenshots and receipts.

New Features in iPadOS 18:

  • Floating tab bar for better app navigation.
  • SharePlay for screen drawing and remote control of iOS devices.
  • Advanced Calculator App with Apple Pencil integration.

AirPods Upgrades:

  • Head movements to interact with Siri.
  • Better voice isolation for calls.
  • Personalized spatial audio for gaming.

InSight for Apple TV+:

  • Scene-specific information about actors and music.
  • Voice isolation for enhanced dialogue.
  • Visual support for 21:9 projectors.

VisionOS 2 Enhancements:

  • Spatial photos with visual depth.
  • Improved SharePlay for a more immersive experience.
  • High-resolution virtual display for Macs.

macOS Sequoia Productivity Features:

  • Seamless continuity between iOS and macOS devices.
  • Remote access and control of iPhone from Mac.
  • Window snapping for better multitasking.

Apple Intelligence (AI) Capabilities:

  • Deep natural language understanding and image generation.
  • Advanced Siri commands and ChatGPT integration allowing for complex in app actions to be taken by voice command.
  • AI tools for writing assistance and image editing.

For a more in-depth look at the announcements read below. Let’s kick it off with iOS.

iOS 18:

Apple added a number of personalization features to make iOS 18 devices look and feel more like our own. Starting with the lock screen, we now have the ability to add shortcuts to any app on our lock screen controls and action button. Previously reserved for a limited  selection of apps, these quick toggles can open up third party apps as well!

Apple also announced the ability to move your app icons and widgets around in any position instead of the fixed grid home screens we’ve become used to. You can free up space on your screen to see more of your background or to position your apps in your preferred arrangement.

Another home screen update allows us to custom color our app icons. They can go from original icons as they are now, to dark mode icons, or match the color of your wallpaper and you can even customize them to have a tint of the exact color you want!

custom icon colours on apple's iphones with ios 18

 

Android people, we know! These features have been around forever and they’re only new to Apple - but better late than never, we can all finally enjoy them on iPhones!

The next set of personalization was the in the control center, users can now categorize controls in groups such as media or home controls and customize how they appear in the control center.

A host of new privacy capabilities were also announced, including the ability to lock or hide individual apps or folders of apps so anyone borrowing your phone can’t see or access any sensitive info. You will also be able to control what information your apps are sharing with other apps such as contact info or pictures. Apple also released a new, more secure way of connecting devices to your phone that limits them from having access to other devices on your networks.

Messages: With the new update to the Messages app you can use more expressive ways of communicating with people, such as; text formatting like bold or italics, message tapbacks (reactions) with any emoji available, and text effects to bring your words to life! Apple also introduced scheduled texts, letting you set up the perfect moment to send a text, ahead of time.

The bigger announcement regarding Messages was satellite support. So you can still send and receive SMS or iMessages even when you don’t have Wi-Fi or cell service on your iPhone! And FINALLY we will also be seeing RCS support on the new iOS, meaning some iMessage features such as read receipts and typing indicators will be available even when you're texting your Android using friends.

The Mail app received some welcomed upgrades as well. Specifically, an automated organization feature that categorizes your email into groups like transactions, updates and promos to reduce clutter in your inbox.

Photos: The photos app on iOS got a complete redesign with the focus of helping users find the photos we’re looking for, faster and creating a more enjoyable user experience. It now features the well-known photos grid on the top half of the screen, with a new organized view called “collections” on the bottom half. Collections basically organize your photos in a way that makes sense, whether it’s by dates, a specific location, or with a specific person. It also automatically filters out clutter like screenshots and pictures of receipts so you can enjoy the most useful pictures. You can easily create your own collections, share entire collections and reorder them so the ones that matter more to you always show up at the top of your list.

ios 18 new redesigned photos app for apple's iphones

 

iOS 18 is loaded with a ton of features that we could go on writing about, like, new topographic maps with hiking trails for all American National Parks, a new quick and anonymous way to transfer money between iPhone users with just a tap of the phones, or the ability to create custom images (more on that in the AI section). If you want a full in depth guide to all iOS updates you can read more here.

 

iPad OS 18:

Moving on to iPad - the new OS will include many of the same features as iOS like home screen customization and a new Photos app. But there are also a number of new capabilities that make full use of iPad’s screen size and Apple Pencil integrations.

Firstly the new way to navigate in many apps will be a floating tab bar across the top of your app showing you menu items or app options while allowing you to navigate the app itself in full screen. The tab bar can also become the side bar if you prefer to have a more traditional look. And you could customize what settings or options you want to see in the tab bar to make it just right for YOU.

iPadOS 18's new floating tab bar to navigate settings on many ipad apps

 

SharePlay on iPad now lets you draw on your screen to help walk someone through what you’re doing on your screen. It will also allow you to remotely control an iOS device while the screen is being shared with you, so you can easily be tech support for grandma!

One of the most impressive iPad announcements was the calculator app. Yes we know it’s hard to be excited about a calculator but the updates are actually fascinating! With the Apple Pencil, you can now write down any mathematical expression in the Calculator App and iPad OS will be able to solve it. You’ll see the answer in your own writing, if you change a variable, your answer will change accordingly, and you’ll be able to save and share the worksheets as well. On top of that, the software will be able to express functions as graphs for a visual representation and will be able to use visual aids to inform your equations such as charts and diagrams.

ipados 18's new calculator feature that makes solving equations on the ipad easier with an apple pencil

 

These math capabilities will be available in the notes app too, which is getting a number of its own additions with the update. With SmartScript, your notes will improve the appearance of your writing as you jot down notes by hand. It makes your notes as flexible as typed text with formatting and spellcheck for your handwritten notes. You can even paste copied text from another source and they’ll be pasted to look like your own writing.

Here’s more about iPadOS 18.

 

Audio & Home:

AirPods are getting a few quick upgrades too. At the top of the list is using head movements to interact with Siri so you don’t have to talk in a crowded or a quiet place. For example you’ll be able to nod “Yes” or “No” to answer or reject a call when you're in the middle of a workout and your phone is away from you on your Pocket Tripod. AirPods will also offer better voice isolation so you can take phone calls in noisy places and still be heard. Lastly, we’ll get personalized spatial audio for gaming with Airpods, to get fully immersed in the action.

For Apple TV+, Apple announced InSight. Ever wondered what an actor's name was or what song is playing in the background when you're watching a series or movie? Well, with InSight the answers to your these questions are just a click away. Insight will show important information about the exact scene you’re watching, if you want to know more. You’ll even be able to add the music identified by InSight directly to you Apple Music playlist.

AppleTV+ new InSight feature that allows you to identify actors and music while watching a series or movie on Apple TV

 

Other than that Apple TV+ is getting voice isolation for enhanced and clearer dialogue when you’re watching something, visual support for 21:9 projectors and a slew of new screen savers.

 

visionOS 2

The Apple Vision Pro will finally be coming to China, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the UK this summer. And with it will come all the updates of visionOS 2.

Apple made spatial computing and spatial photos a key focus of this year's announcements for visionOS. The new OS will offer the ability to bring any existing photo to life by adding visual depth and creating life sized 3D-like images you can only enjoy on the Apple Vision Pro.

The new SharePlay will make it feel like you’re in the same room with friends and allow you to navigate apps and share photos and videos with them as if they were sitting right next to you. The virtual display for Macs can now project your Mac with a higher display resolution and size, allowing for the feeling of an ultra-wide display that feels like having two 4k monitors.

visionOS2's ability to display your mac on a virtual monitor with the apple vision pro

 

Some of the more basic improvements that fans have been asking for included time and battery status displays on Vision Pro and simplified navigation gestures. Check out the full breakdown of visionOS 2 announcements here.

 

macOS Sequoia

The new macOS is getting a number of features focused on productivity and creativity. A highlight of the announcements was the continuity capabilities allowing you to work seamlessly across your iOS and macOS devices. For example, your clip board and controls will act as one between devices. Had some spontaneous blog ideas you jotted down on your phone? You can copy them from your phone and paste onto a new blog on your MacBook to continue developing your ideas!

To add to that, you can actually remotely access and fully control your iPhone from your Mac device with iPhone mirroring. So if you needed to check something on your phone, you don’t even need to pick it up or take it out. You can even add files to your phone through the mirrored version and they’ll be there when you go back to your phone. This means that you’ll be able to see, access and interact with all your iPhone notifications directly from your Mac. Moreover, your phone screen will not actually be affected by anything you do on your Mac. So you can look at important information on your phone in StandBy mode on a Pocket Tripod while you navigate its apps with the mirrored version on your laptop.

Screen mirroring an apple iphone on the new MacOS Sequoia

 

Safari is getting some much needed AI enhancements with page highlights, summaries, and quick-links, that remove distractions and make the more relevant information on webpages easily accessible when you visit them.

One announcement that might be the end of a number of third party Mac apps is window snapping. Sequoia will finally offer the ability to snap window or tiles to different positions on your screen so you don’t have to spend time carefully resizing your windows when you want to look at two different apps at once.

window snapping on macOS Sequoia

 

Read up on the details and full list of features on macOS Sequoia here, including a centralized app for password and verification code protection called keychain and a unified gaming platform for iOS, iPadOS and Mac devices.

 

watchOS 11

If you have an Apple Watch, don’t worry, you weren’t left behind in this year's WWDC announcements. WatchOS 11 will bring a few exciting capabilities right to your wrist. Starting with TrainingLoad, a new training measure that combines your age and weight with your training data and effort rating to give you an idea of how much your workouts are impacting your body, when taking a break might be a good idea and when you can ramp up the intensity a few notches to get the most out of your workout sessions.

Apple's new training load feature on watchOS 11

 

WatchOS 11 is also making your SmartStack smarter. You can now spin the crown on your Apple Watch to scroll through live updates that are more relevant than ever before, like rain warning, your favourite teams live scores, your Ubers arrival time or directions for the hiking routes you’ve created. Check out all that an more on Apple’s website.

 

Apple Intelligence (AI)

Apple Intelligence

And now for the grand finale - Apple Intelligence! In true Apple fashion, the focus of their AI announcements was their ability to give users an extremely personalized experience where the AI can access data across different apps and platforms to inform its context when providing results while, ensuring user data is protected and only the information necessary is being shared or accessed. Apple is achieving this by hosting the majority of their AI functionality locally on their devices with special permissions from the user required to send info to remote servers.

Despite using local generative models, some of the Apple Intelligence capabilities are truly amazing. Like the deep natural language understanding, image generation, action capabilities integrated with Siri that pretty much turn your phone into your personal assistant. You can use commands like “where are my notes from last week's meeting” or “show me all the photos I took on my Pocket Tripod with mom yesterday” and Siri will be able to scan across your apps to figure out what you’re talking about to complete your request. Siri will also be able to take in app actions with commands like “make this photo pop” and “summarize these notes to a new email”

You’ll now be able to interact with Siri via text as well, and switch between typing or using your voice whenever you like. To make understanding your devices easier, Siri will now come packed with relevant product knowledge so you can ask it things like “How do I change my lock screen controls?” Or “take me to the settings for my notification center”. On top of that, Siri is getting a new look with a gradient glow around your screen to show when it is active.

new siri capabilities with apple intelligence

 

If you think that’s a lot, there’s more! Siri will have native support from Chat GPT for more elaborate requests that can use OpenAI’s industry leading AI capabilities to get you more accurate responses. You’ll be able to upload documents, photos and other info without the need for an OpenAi account, directly through Siri.

Outside of Siri, there are bunch of new AI tools to help you write better. You can ask Apple Intelligence to rewrite different versions of something you’ve written. Maybe your email needs a change of tone. Or you need to go into more detail in a section of your report, AI can do that. And of course a number of proof-reading capabilities are included, such as in line suggestions as you type, grammar and punctuation correction and word choice. The best part? You can do all this in almost any application where you would edit text, even third party apps!

new apple intelligence features like text rewrite, image playground and priority notifications

 

These features extend to your entire device where the mail app for instance, can summarize your emails with the most important info showing up in the preview. Your notifications get prioritized for important messages and updates and you could reduce interruptions on your lock screen. You can even transcribe audio into text or record phone calls and meetings to then have them transcribed into summarized notes.

Another big AI announcement was image generation. Apple is bringing us the ability to use AI to generate images to make our conversations much more engaging. Within the messages app we’ll be able to create custom emojis with genmoji, using a typed prompt. Image playground will allow us to create custom images in app in either a sketch, illustration or animation style. While ImageWand will be able to take your rough sketches in the notes app and transform them into AI images. Playground will be integrated in keynote, pages and free form as well, so you always have your image generating tools at your fingertips.

The photo library will get a boost out of AI as well, with tools like cleanup letting you remove unwanted subjects or people from your photos as if they were never there. Or for you adventurers out there that love taking photos and videos but never have the time to sit down and edit them all together, you will now be able to ask Apple’s AI to do it for you. Request something like “make a memory movie of my trip to France” and the model will create a narrative and a story line using images and videos from your trip and music from your libraries, letting you enjoy your travels while your phone does the work!

Apple Intelligence's Memory Movie feature

 

There are plenty of other features AI features to discuss and you can read more about them on the official webpage. Unfortunately we have to wait until the Fall before the beta version of these features get released to the public. But if they are anything like they’re promised it might just be worth the wait!

That sums up our recap of WWDC 2024 - from iOS personalizations and privacy enhancements to complete app redesigns and brand new AI capabilities, this was a loaded WWDC with new features to be excited about for every platform and OS Apple offers! 

Let us know your favorite features in the comments, and which new tools do you think you'll be using with your Pocket Tripod!

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Sep 21, 20230 commentsElodie Pellet