What was new at Apple’s tech get-together?

Not everyone uses Apple products, but every year in June the company holds an event aimed at the community that develops software for its products, WWDC (World-wide Developer Conference). What makes this interesting to a wider audience, is the repercussions it has on the technology and on the consumer technology sector at large.

iOS 12

iOS is the operating system specifically for iPhones and iPads, and the roadmap that Apple lays out each year helps developers factor in new features that it’s launching. One thing that grabbed attention this year was the ability to limit using iDevices with a feature called ScreenTime. Essentially, it enables a set of rules that limit the prevalence of notifications and can also monitor individual app usage, to let you know exactly how much or little you’re glued to a screen. In tandem with parental controls, this could be exactly the thing mums and dads have been looking for. The Do Not Disturb feature has also become more versatile, by allowing a number of rules to be set up, rather than the current blanket, one-option-only time period. One thing that businesses might also embrace is the new ability for video FaceTime chats to be held in groups with dynamic video shifting on each involved device according to whomever is speaking. There are other under-the-hood changes that should optimise iOS 12 on older Apple devices, plus improvements to voice assistant, Siri, and a multitude of new emojis.

macOS Mojave

Ask any Apple aficionado what their favourite iteration of macOS is, and they’ll probably answer with Snow Leopard. This was the last true refinement of a previous feature set. It’s true that High Sierra tried this after the plain and simple Sierra, but a number of niggly things were left in the release that probably ought to have been squashed. Mojave is promising everything that High Sierra set out to do. It’s sleek (new dark mode is great for productivity apps) and the dynamic desktop fixes the clutter that usually afflicts everyone’s desktops by arranging files by types and in spring-loaded stacks. Finally, you’ll be able to actually enjoy your desktop wallpaper. Screenshots now have native markup support so annotations can be done quickly and easily without opening any other apps, and then contextually shared to email, messages or iCloud.

When it comes to security and privacy, Apple is really trying to steal a march on competitors. Effectively, with this macOS release any privacy issues require explicit permission by the user to opt-in. Some websites, Facebook in particular, harvest even just your system configuration in order to build some kind of advertising profile about you to pin your internet usage to. Not under Mojave. Even the share, comment, and like buttons some websites have used surreptitiously try to track behaviours, even if you don’t use them. Again, this is switched off by default. Also worth mentioning is the redesigned Mac App Store that has more in common now – in terms of layout and feel – with its iOS cousin.

Apple is a master of refining already available technologies into things that are either simpler, more user-friendly – or both. Even if you don’t use an Apple device, equivalents of ScreenTime will no doubt end up on other mobile operating systems as consumer demand dictates and technology sector competition continues to hot up.

Both iOS 12 and macOS Mojave are free upgrades, and system requirements at the time of writing for Mojave are: 2015 and newer MacBooks, 2012 and newer MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac models, the 2017 iMac Pro, and Mac Pro models from late 2013 and mid-2010 and mid-2012 models with Metal-capable GPUs

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