6 things Apple announced at WWDC 2018

All of the operating systems – and none of the hardware

Apple’s developer conference, WWDC 2018, is now in full swing. Tim Cook and his cohorts bounded about the keynote stage, outlining the future of the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and more.

But what was announced this year, to make your Apple devices shine? Here’s what:

1. iOS 12

For older Apple fans, there was a whiff of Snow Leopard as Apple’s Craig Federighi and his hair said iOS would double down on performance (especially for older devices). But he then reeled off a laundry list of great new features, 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 that of a child’s), and the ability to make animojis stick out their tongues. Mercifully, the last of those wasn’t demoed using the poop animoji.

2. macOS Mojave

With the lack of macOS leaks, we didn’t know what to expect. 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, as does the new Gallery view in Finder. And 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; 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 immediately ran out of interesting things to say. In a section that lasted ten minutes at a developer conference, it was telling 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 India HQ was bit surprised at the total lack of new Apple kit at WWDC 2018. This year was all about the software. 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.