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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Here’s Everything Apple Announced at WWDC 2024

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Key Takeaways

  • Apple has introduced Apple Intelligence, a suite of AI-focused features such as Writing Tools, Image Playgrounds, Genmojis, and a vastly improved Siri.
  • iOS 18 offers new customization options for app icons, Control Center, and visual changes across several first-party apps.
  • Apple’s software releases will be available to the public in fall 2024. However, you can install the developer beta builds, which lack some features and may not be stable.

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Apple’s WWDC 2024 event introduced some of the most significant changes across its mobile and desktop operating systems in a long time. Below, we’ll discuss everything Apple announced for its various devices.

1 Apple Intelligence

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MacBook running Pages with Apple Intelligence
Apple

Artificial intelligence is all the buzz in 2024 from the likes of Google and Samsung, and now Apple has joined the race too. While your iPhone already has some hidden AI features, a whole new suite of AI capabilities, dubbed Apple Intelligence, is coming to your Apple devices. These features include tools to help you write better, a more context-aware Siri, and more.

Apple has also introduced a new image generation model that can create AI images from prompts and integrate with third-party apps. Additionally, the company introduced Genmojis, which uses the same technology to create unique new emojis that don’t already exist.

Siri is also receiving major updates. You will be able to ask Siri to perform tasks within apps. AI-powered Siri can understand what’s happening on your screen, comprehend the context, and take action based on your requests. It will even integrate with OpenAI’s GPT 4o model for certain requests with the new Writing Tools.

What’s more impressive than the results Apple showcased at the event is that most of the processing for these features happens on your device, meaning your data never leaves your iPhone. For instances that require more power, Apple uses its own servers for processing, ensuring your data is only used for your requests and never stored.

Unfortunately, the new AI features require an iPad or Mac with the M1 chip or later. As for iPhones, Apple Intelligence only works on the iPhone 15 Pro or later, which is disappointing considering that Samsung brought its Galaxy AI features to older phones.

2 iOS 18

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iOS 18 Control Center
Raghav Sethi/MakeUseOf

Besides Apple Intelligence, iOS is getting a visual refresh with entirely new customization options. iOS 18 lets you place app icons wherever you want on the grid and tint your app icons and widgets with different colors. Although you could use custom app icons via shortcuts, it was not a convenient solution by any means, so this is definitely a welcome change.

Apple has also redesigned the Control Center. On iOS 18, you can customize and even resize your controls within the Control Center itself. There are separate pages for different groups of controls, such as media playback and Home controls. You’re also no longer limited to just the Flashlight and Camera for your Lock Screen controls; you can change them to whatever you like.

Lastly, iOS 18 allows you to lock apps and even add them to a hidden folder in your App Library. There are several improvements to a bunch of Apple’s first-party apps, with a good example being the Photos app, which has gotten a complete redesign.

3 iPadOS 18

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iPads running iPadOS 18
Apple

If you regularly use an Apple Pencil, iPadOS 18 will improve your experience even further. The new Smart Script feature improves the legibility of your handwriting, and you get even more control, such as the ability to insert text between words or paste typed text in the form of your handwriting.

iPad users will finally get a Calculator app with iPadOS 18. You can directly scribble your equations using the Apple Pencil, assign variables, solve equations, and even plot graphs in real-time within the Notes app, which is definitely a welcome addition for students.

Besides iPad-specific features, iPadOS 18 will get all the visual and customization changes that iOS 18 offers. Apple has also introduced a standalone Passwords app for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, so you no longer have to dig into the Settings app.

4 macOS Sequoia

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A man using a MacBook Pro running macOS Sequoia with the iPhone Mirroring feature
Apple/YouTube

Apple’s announcement of the next iteration of macOS was definitely my favorite part of the event. A new addition to the ever-growing list of Continuity features is iPhone Mirroring. It allows you to not only mirror your iPhone to your Mac but also control it using your keyboard and trackpad.

As a person who doesn’t like continuously switching between devices while working, this is definitely a game changer. You can now even receive your iPhone’s notifications on your Mac, allowing you to keep your focus on one device at a time.

Window tiling on Mac was definitely a lackluster experience, but now you can just drag windows to an edge to tile them, just like you would on a Windows PC. There are also several quality-of-life features, such as the ability to change your video background across all video calling apps.

5 watchOS 11

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Apple Watch running watchOS 11
Apple

watchOS 11 brings some minor improvements, like the new Vitals app, which puts all your important health metrics in one place and helps you better understand how well you are doing.

watchOS 11 also includes improvements for pregnant users, as the Cycle Tracking app can now show their gestational age and track their pregnancy across their health charts. The Health app can also quickly alert users of potential fall risk during the third trimester of pregnancy.

You can now log and measure the intensity after each workout, which will better help you understand how much strain your body is under and how you can adjust your training to get the most optimal results.

6 visionOS 2

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Spatial Photo view on an Apple Vision Pro
Apple

visionOS 2 now allows you to directly convert any photo to a spatial photo, which allows you to relive your pictures in a 3D-esque manner. There are simpler gestures to summon the Home Screen and the Control Center, but the biggest changes lie within the Mac Virtual Display.

Once you connect your Mac to your Vision Pro, you can switch to an ultrawide configuration equivalent to two 4K displays.

visionOS 2 also introduces new gestures for easier navigation as you use your Vision Pro headset. For instance, you can use your hand to access the Home View, check the date and time, access volume controls, and monitor your headset’s battery level.

7 Improvements to Audio and Home

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Apple TV 4K next to a White HomePod and Yellow HomePod Mini
Apple

Taking a page from Amazon Prime, the Apple TV app can now show you information about actors, characters, and songs in an ongoing scene. tvOS 18 uses machine learning to enhance the dialogue so that the speech isn’t drowned by music or other sounds. The best part about this feature is that it’s not limited to HomePods or AirPods; you can also use it across all Bluetooth devices.

One of my favorite features is that you can interact with Siri without using your hands or even your voice. While receiving something like a phone call, you can just simply nod or shake your head to perform your desired action, which is perfect when you’re in a crowded place where you might not want to announce that you want to answer a call.

All the software releases we discussed here will be available to the general public in fall 2024. However, Apple has already started rolling out beta builds to app developers. You can install the iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 beta right now, but features like Apple Intelligence and AI-powered Siri are missing in this initial build.

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