Apple's WWDC 2018 came and, eventually, went in its usual fashion, with Tim Cook and his cohorts bounding about the keynote stage, outlining the future of the Mac, iPhone, Apple Watch and more just as enthusiastically as ever.
If you've not heard of WWDC, it's Apple's annual Worldwide Developer's Conference, which plays host to thousands of app developers to show them what's coming next to Apple software. It might sound a bit heavy going, but it ultimately means we get a sneak peek at how our devices are going to be improved in the near future.
Sometimes we even get a glance at a forthcoming device or two, but there was even less hardware than we expected this year. And by less we mean, well, none. But that doesn't mean it wasn't packed full of details on new features coming to Apple's software later this year that will make your current Apple devices better than ever.
But what exactly were those exciting features and what do they mean for your iPhone, Apple Watch or MacBook? We're so glad you asked.
1. iOS 12
For older Apple fans, there was a whiff of Snow Leopard to kick off proceedings, as Apple’s Craig Federighi and his hair announced iOS would double down on performance (especially for older devices). He then reeled off a laundry list of great new features coming this September, including substantial improvements to AR, Siri user automation, big upgrades to key apps, cracking features for ensuring your iPhone or iPad doesn’t take over your life (or your kids'), and the ability to create personalised Memojis that look like you (or however you'd like to look - mohawk anyone?). Animojis will also now be able to stick out their tongues - mercifully, the last of those wasn’t demoed using the poop animoji.
READ MORE: 12 things you need to know about iOS 12
2. macOS Mojave
With the lack of macOS leaks, we didn’t know what to expect for Apple's desktop software. But after attempting (and failing) to suppress rubbish jokes about macOS Mojave’s new name (macOS deserted – ho ho), we were immediately converted. Dark Mode looks lovely (and we also want it for iPad right now). Desktop stacks look useful for clearing up our ever cluttered desktops, and the Gallery view in Finder will be handy too. Plus Continuity Camera enables you to use an iPhone for a scanner. Even the beleaguered Mac App Store got a boost through a redesign, and the reveal that key productivity apps (Microsoft Office, Adobe Lightroom, BBEdit, Transmit) were heading there – in contrast to the pro-apps exodus we’ve seen in recent years.
3. watchOS 5
Starting off with a video about Apple Watch saving someone’s life was a shrewd move. After that point, Apple could have said watchOS 5 had no new features at all and you’d have felt bad about complaining. But in the end, we got some new stuff: closing-the-rings competitions with friends; automatic workout detection; an improved Siri watch face; and podcasts on Apple Watch. Also, Apple unveiled a new Walkie Talkie voice messages app, so you can use your cutting-edge wrist-based hardware to pretend it’s 1982.
4. Not much for tvOS
Apple announced that Dolby Atmos was coming to Apple TV (and that it would be the biggest library ever, no less), but then immediately ran out of interesting things to say. In a section that lasted ten minutes at a developer conference, it was telling that Apple essentially ignored third-party apps and games. Anyone hoping for a Nintendo Switch competitor won’t be getting one from Cupertino. And Tim Cook’s assertion that the future of TV being apps now seems very long ago – unless it’s a channel that can be welded to Apple’s own TV app.
5. No new hardware
We did warn you to not expect a ton of new hardware, but even Stuff HQ was bit surprised at the total lack of new Apple kit at WWDC 2018. This year was all about the software, so it looks like the iPhone SE 2 will have to wait until September. But given that the WWDC hall and online audience was full of developers, would it have killed Apple to offer a tantalising hint of the new Mac Pro?
6. macOS and iOS aren’t getting merged, but…
Answering whether Apple’s merging iOS and macOS, Apple exec Craig Federighi showed a slide with a massive NO crashing to the ground. (You got the feeling Apple really wanted to put overly excited ‘analysts’ beneath it.) But he did reveal a multi-year project where Apple’s bolting bits of iOS on to macOS, making it easier to port apps. Apple’s starting with its own: News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home. In 2019, developers will get a crack at this. Purists: prepare for native Mac apps to be rapidly outnumbered.