Apple’s WWDC 2022 is go. It’s the week devs dig into how to make the best new apps and games. But the keynote gave the rest of us a peek at what will be squirted into your devices this autumn.
As has become tradition, Apple execs with perfect smiles and Apple Watches glued to their wrists fired off information at a rate of knots, only occasionally being interrupted by roller-coaster CGI sequences that made Stuff hope that’s how people really get around Apple HQ.
Anyway, here are the important bits…
Apple flattens the MacBook Air
With WWDC being for pros, all eyes were on the Mac Pro’s inevitable Apple Silicon update. Instead, Apple revamped its consumer laptop. The new MacBook Air (from £1249) gets an M2 chip and looks like a 14in MacBook Pro that’s cut down on carbs.
Surprisingly, it eschews the 2021 iMac’s colours for iPhone-like classiness. That’s less fun, but it means no white notch, which is cause for celebration.
We’ll miss the wedge shape of the old model, but not its massive bezels and rubbish webcam. Although if the idea of the old-style MacBook Air going away makes you sad, Apple gave it a stay of execution, presumably so the company can say its laptops start at £999…
One for the fans: M2 MacBook Pro
Apple’s update to the 13in MacBook Pro was less exciting. It has an M2 shoved inside the existing design, which means the Touch Bar whiffs up the place for another year. If you need a fan for sustained tasks, it’s maybe worth a look. Otherwise, we’d take the new MacBook Air over this relic any day.
The M2 keeps Apple Silicon ahead
Other chip manufacturers are keen to note they can create silicon that’s competitive with Apple’s M1. The tiny snag: those chips, when used in a laptop, tend to require enough power to set fire to your actual lap. Apple’s rivals are therefore going to be thrilled that the company’s announced the M2.
Imagine the M1, only more so (except when it comes to external displays – the M2 still only supports one). The CPU is up to 18% faster. The GPU is up to 35% faster. You can get an extra two cores on the GPU and up to 24GB of RAM rather than 16GB. Yeah, it’s all numbers, but those numbers mean more power and more speed – without more heat and hammering your battery.
iOS 16 makes things personal
This time, it’s personal! Ish. With iOS 16, Apple’s letting you fiddle with the Lock Screen so you can add a row of tiny widgets. You can also personalise spatial audio, faff about with new notification types, and share photo libraries. The last of those things includes a feature that doubles as a threat: everyone will be forced to suffer everyone else’s edits. Fun times ahead when dad deletes the entire library or mum turns everyone bright blue.
Elsewhere: Maps is still playing catch up with Google Maps circa several years ago, Photos lets you snazzily drag and drop objects from pics, and Quick Note finally rocks up on iPhone, presumably with a note explaining why it’s a year late. Conspicuous in its absence: an App Library Dock option. Grr.
Give it a run: watchOS 9
As ever, Apple Watch is mostly about new faces (including a fancy astronomy one with live cloud coverage and a cartoon one with stupid animated numbers) and keeping you healthy. The new medications app looks handy, and there are new features for sleep and running tracking. (And if you’re wondering whether we forgot about tvOS this year… so did Apple.)
macOS Ventura glues itself to your devices
Now played by Jim Carrey, the latest macOS is a strange beast. The ‘smaller’ features include Apple finally paying attention to Mail (new search; scheduled send; remind me), beefing up Spotlight (Quick Look; timer triggers; musician info) and preparing to eradicate passwords. Good.
But Continuity Camera, where you use your iPhone as a webcam, feels like a tacit admission about how poor Mac (or, cough, Apple Studio Display) cameras are. And Stage Manager – a mash-up of the Dock and Spaces – is deeply weird, given that the Mac… has a Dock and Spaces. It feels like someone at Apple couldn’t decide the best way forward to manage windows and so hedged their bets by giving users two.
iPadOS 16 turns ‘pro’ up to, well, about a 7
Apple announced the Weather app is (finally) coming to iPadOS and used the segment to demo features that are coming to its other kit too (better collaboration; the Freeform multi-user whiteboard app). But the onus appears to be on making iPad better for pros.
Much of this will be through smaller features like inline find and replace and customisable toolbars. A bigger one is Reference Mode, for consistent colour compositing across devices. And then there’s Stage Manager, coming across from Mac, which also works with – cue: fanfare – external displays.
It’s hard to say whether this will satisfy our long-running gripe about external display support on iPad. During Apple’s demo, Stage Manager made the iPad display look claustrophobic, and we’d like to use all of an external display for one iPad app. Time will tell whether that’s even possible. Here’s hoping (again)…