Every year in June, Apple holds a conference for developers, the Worldwide Developers Conference. In 2022, for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, participants from all over the world had the opportunity to gather offline at Apple Park, a new location on the company’s campus, to watch a presentation, test updates, and visit the new Developer Center.
Total at Apple there are 34 million registered developers. Of course, not everyone managed to get to the offline WWDC day, but the presentation of the main updates could be viewed online. If the focus of last year’s conference was more aimed at supporting users during the pandemic and the separation of personal and work, then in 2022 Apple calls on users to go outside and actively interact with people and the surrounding world.
Engineers of the Ukrainian food company MacPaw figured out how Apple’s announcements will affect software developers, and what will change globally for users.
More focus and productive work
Today, the market offers thousands of apps for planning, focus, and productivity, but the sheer variety only makes it difficult for users to choose. Focus Mode on Apple devices is one of the most important features of recent years. Helping users focus on the essentials is an important concept of Apple’s innovation, and since last year the company has been moving in this direction.
However, if earlier the emphasis was on rest, then in 2022 the focus shifts to productive work. From now on, users can independently choose the focus mode and further customize the experience of interacting with devices. Apple has synced this approach across all devices—iPhone, Mac, and iPad. For example, on the iPadOS screen, you can now open only up to four windows and up to eight active applications at the same time.
Apple also added the ability to filter applications and tabs. So, for example, notifications will now be displayed from the bottom of the screen, and not in chronological order — but horizontally deep into the screen. Interestingly, with the new changes, Apple is actually catching up with Android.
Maybe Apple sees only one active focus mode in the ideal user workflow. There is hope for a mono-notification — a single message from an app with an updated status, which Apple demonstrated with the example of Uber. With this approach to notifications, users will be able to forget about distracting messages.
If Apple makes life easier for users, it makes things more difficult for developers. For developers, everything will now depend on how well they adapt their applications to the new notification capabilities. Previously, in order to create your virtual world, it was enough to come to Swift Playgrounds. From now on, in order for the application to remain “in the focus” of the user, it is necessary to integrate hundreds of external APIs. Without it, users won’t even receive a notification from the app unless the developer proves to Apple its importance and connection to previous notifications.
However, there is also a benefit from the new APIs: developers will be able to adjust the interaction of the application with the user for a specific focus, for example, Home, Sleep, Work, etc. That is, not only users will be able to allocate applications to the appropriate Focus Modes, but also iOS will independently add applications to a certain focus according to the frequency of their use by a user of a certain category. This will help food delivery apps to optimize offers, and messengers will be able to display interlocutor mode for ease of communication.
This year, the Weather Kit Framework appeared, thanks to which developers will be able to add weather to various categories of applications. Previously, it was necessary to use a third-party API for this. This will be useful for calendars, productivity or task management applications.
Stage Manager will help with performance and focus on macOS. Previously, Mission Control allowed users to open multiple windows. With Stage Manager, windows will be conveniently grouped on the left side of the screen, and users will be able to easily find and open exactly those that are needed at a specific moment. This will help maintain focus and not overload the desktop.
The Share Play API is a powerful replacement for popular collaborative apps like Figma. The Share Play interface opens up opportunities for group planning and editing of any materials. Maybe every app will have Share Play, thanks to which collaborative sessions will be held. On the other hand, it is not possible to find a use case for all Share Play solutions. For example, this feature was added to Safari, but will people want to use it? After all, the browser is the user’s private territory. Also, each of the participants will be able to distribute, for example, sensitive work information, so Share Play leaves the issue of privacy open for now.
Maybe Share Play will make marketers tense up, too. Previously, targeted advertising was adjusted to the person who opened the site. Is there a risk that with Share Play, the session host’s ad will be shown to all participants? Such openness can affect one’s reputation.
The watchOS experience has shown that Apple users have a demand for device customization. In the new iOS, with its active widgets, interactive lock screens, animated screensavers and parallax images, Apple allows you to personalize almost everything. This is useful for developers and at the same time pleasant for users, because now they have more opportunities to emphasize their individuality just by changing the screen.
The new Live Activities feature for the lock screen will help you get only the most up-to-date news. The lock screen can be adapted to your needs by adding only the most necessary widgets to it. People often unlock their iPhone to find information, such as the results of a sports game, and then just get distracted by something else. By customizing your lock screen, you’ll only have access to relevant apps without having to unlock your iPhone and dive into the home screen.
With this customization, the iPhone screen will look much more like the Apple Watch than previous versions of iOS. It’s like “back to the future” only with the integration of its best practices.
Privacy and data security
In the era of cloud solutions, issues of privacy and security become paramount. At this year’s WWDC, Apple announced that it will support authentication standards from the Fido Alliance, which aim to reduce users’ reliance on passwords. Authentication on the new operating system will take place through users’ biometric data and will be unified on all devices. A complete rejection of passwords should prevent phishing attacks, social engineering and bot attacks.
Given that Microsoft and Google will also support these standards, we can predict a significant exodus of users from password managers such as 1Password. Now, if the user tries to access the site, for example, from Windows, they will receive a QR code that, after scanning with an iPhone, will read biometrics. According to the Fido protocol, this data will be automatically transferred to the site. Each user will have a personal biometric keychain for all platforms — and there will be no need to store or remember any passwords. With a biometric key, information will be transferred between devices via iCloud. That is, you can use only one of the devices as the main one for authentication through Face ID or Touch ID — and this is enough to enter any Internet services.
Passkeys is already part of the Local Authorization Network. Apple promises that it will be impossible to hack them, because the data will no longer be stored on servers. It is surprising that passkeys was submitted as a new solution for macOS Ventura, because their launch took place a year ago.
We hope that in the future all platforms will standardize the formats of these keys so that they are suitable for Microsoft, Google, and Apple.
Security concerns are one of the reasons Apple is aggressively phasing out all Macs made before 2017, including the 2013 Mac Pro and 2016 MacBook Pro. If your Mac uses an Apple M2 or Apple Silicon chip, you’re safe. If you’re using an older Mac with an Intel processor, it’s likely that Apple will end support for it in the near future.
Continuation of platform unification and merger
One of Apple’s key trends over the past 5-6 years is the merging of platforms. This year’s innovations in iPadOS are largely a reimagining of macOS features. For example, Stage Managers on Mac and iPad will look the same, although the desktop capabilities on iPad are almost unavailable.
Maybe this is how Apple prepares users for the realityOS interface for AR/VR headsets? I wonder what the iPhone apps will look like in Stage Manager on the iPad, as not all of them currently support Split View. It is already clear that developers should pay attention to unification and work on screen extensions.
New M2 processors
The new M2 processor is not as new as its developers would like, and will not be a big breakthrough. The announcement of the new processor is more of a marketing move on Apple’s part. if you compare M2 with Intel, then its power is really 15 times higher. However, compared to the latest generation of M1, the increase ranges from 25-40%. A really loud and tangible innovation was the change in architecture when switching to M1 processors, which happened in 2020.
It is interesting that MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with M2 will differ only in the amount of memory: 512 GB versus 256 GB, but otherwise the devices are the same. From a user perspective, the MacBook Pro will last longer on a single battery charge than the new MacBook Air. The latter will provide up to 18 hours of active work from the last charge.
On the other hand, users will have a pleasant bonus: the MacBook Air will charge quite quickly. In 30 minutes, we will get a 50% charge, which is 9 hours of active device operation. Thanks to the new charging unit with two inputs, it will be possible to connect several devices at the same time, which brings us back to Apple’s strategy of synchronizing devices and forming a single ecosystem. And the MagSafe charger will have the same color as the MacBook, which is not functionally important, but from an aesthetic point of view, it is nice.
More third-party programs that will become unnecessary
Every year, Apple’s updates presented at WWDC push various applications, and sometimes entire categories of applications, out of the market. There is such a thing as “sherlocked apps” — programs that disappeared from the market due to the appearance of similar functions in Apple systems. This makes WWDC not only a celebration, but also a stress for developers.
This year was no exception. Yes, the aforementioned passkeys will allow you to completely ditch passwords and access devices with biometric authentication, which threatens password managers like 1Password or LastPass.
Collaboration and teamwork programs are also at risk. Announced by Freeform, it is possible to share an open screen for online editing with a group of people via FaceTime, which looks like a kind of counterpart to Figma. And Shareplay and other Shared options (tabs, games, screens) will create competition with Zoom and Google Meet: with them, users will be able to watch videos together.
Apple Wallet becomes a competitor to Revolut or Monobank due to its expanded functionality and the possibility of payment in installments of Apple Pay Later. And it is also a potential competitor for document managers (Document Manager, DocStorer), because it will be possible to store documents in Wallet. If this option will be available for Ukraine, Diya should also worry, because its developers will have to support additional APIs. On the other hand, it would be convenient to pass verification not in third-party applications, but immediately in iOS.
And Apple Pay can become a successful alternative to payment terminals. Of course, the latter have complex software that interacts with tax services. But potentially, if the seller has Apple Pay configured on the site, it will be possible to accept payment simply through the iPhone.
Continuity Camera can not only displace Camo from the application market, but also webcams in general, because now the iPhone will serve as a camera without the involvement of additional devices.
With the release of the new macOS Ventura, most previous devices will become obsolete. MacBook Air is subjectively the best Mac in the line for its price.
However, the launch of a new solution from Apple that covers the functionality of a third-party application already on the market does not always mean a loss of users. In 2016, Apple added a Mac cleanup and optimization feature called Storage Management to macOS Sierra 10.12. This was a direct challenge to MacPaw’s CleanMyMac. However, this Apple feature never became popular and today is hidden deep in the settings. So for us it became a test, not a sentence.
Overall, WWDC22 will be remembered for the announcement of the new MacBook Air and the company’s even greater focus on productivity and user focus. Apple continues to follow its course of merging platforms and synchronizing the entire Apple ecosystem. On the eve of the event, there were many rumors about the possible announcement of an AR/VR headset from Apple with the realityOS system, but this did not happen. Like last year, most of the WWDC announcements were more about users than software developers.
And for the first time in three years, WWDC held an offline day in Apple Park, where Tim Cook and Craig Federighi spoke before the presentation. The MacPaw team managed to visit the Apple campus, visit the new Developer Center and watch the presentation together with developers from around the world. What it was like was told from the scene in the podcast.