WWDC 2020 roundup

Posted in Apple

I did it last year, so here it is again. Far from a complete list of the features Apple announced at WWDC 2020, but the ones that stood out to me.

As suspected, this year was pretty light on features, with only a handful of really exciting announcements. The outbreak of Coronavirus and the enforced working from home has obviously meant Apple cuts back to only the absolutely necessary and almost-ready. It’d be fascinating to know what didn’t make it, but I guess we’ll find out this time next year!

General

  • They’ve done a lot for Privacy, but the standout for me is the summary for each app, showing what the app has access to (location, contact info, browsing history, etc.) so you can decide if it’s too intrusive
  • Messages is getting more useful on all platforms:
    • Pinned threads is great, so I don’t have to go hunting for groups of people that I want right at the top
    • Inline replies is great
    • Setting a group photo is much more useful than seeing the avatars of the 2 last people who messaged

iOS 14

Not too much on the iOS front, to be honest. The widgets look nifty, but otherwise nothing really grabbed me.

There was a mention of on-device dictation though, when they were talking about the Translate app, and that caught my interest. It doesn’t look like Voice Memos will be able to automatically transcribe memos? Nothing in the release notes, anyway.

iPadOS 14

Hardly anything here as I’m not an iPad user. Nothing on Multitasking, which really needs some attention, but Scribble for Apple Pencil looks nice. It makes the iPad an actual tablet, allowing you to write directly into any text field.

AirPods

Automatic switching between devices is great news. This is something I had assumed would be there from the start, so being able to intelligently switch the pairing of the AirPods from device to device is going to be really handy.

WatchOS 7

Finally! Sleep tracking!

Apple TV

Again, nothing much here, but Picture in Picture looks useful.

macOS

The macOS announcement was the most high-impact. The really big news was moving from Intel to Apple’s own processors, but that’s for someone more hardware savvy to report on. The software for macOS 10.16 (Big Sur) is more my territory, but, again, it was relatively feature light and more about the overall user interface visual changes.

  • There has been a huge UI design overhaul, so that the operating system and app interfaces better match iOS/iPadOS. I’m not sure how I feel about this as it didn’t work all that well when they tried the same with Mac OS X Lion (10.7)
  • There are new app icons to match iOS, which is a bit boring, but I can see why they’ve done it
  • Refinements to default controls (radios, checkboxes, sliders, etc.) looks like it’ll be a win for web accessibility
  • Control centre looks useful, putting volume, brightness, etc. in one place. Dragging each out onto the menu bar to make its own item in the menu bar will be convenient
  • Safari has had some improvements, most notably:

Get them delivered!

If you enjoyed this and want all the latest articles delivered to your inbox every month, pop your email in the form below.

I don’t collect any data on when, where or if people open the emails I send them. Your email will only be used to send you newsletters and will never be passed on. You can unsubscribe at any time.

More posts

Here are a couple more posts for you to enjoy. If that's not enough, have a look at the full list.

  1. An introduction to HTML attributes

    An HTML attribute lives on the opening tag of an element and gives that element powers it might not otherwise have had.

  2. A handy Git shortcut to fetch and prune

    I’m still writing my Git commands long-hand. Turns out a fetch and prune can be more concise than I’ve previously suggested, all without aliases.