Apple Announces New Features for iPhone, Apple Watch, at Worldwide Developers Conference

By Paul Riegler on 4 June 2018
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Apple introduced a slew of new tools and software at its 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.

The Cupertino-based company is adding tools to the iPhone to combat Information Overload, releasing new operating systems for the Apple Watch and iPhone, introducing a feature in the Safari web browser that makes it harder for websites to track visitors, and updating Siri to allow the virtual assistant to catch up to the competition.

The most interesting feature in iOS 12 may be Screen Time, which is intended to help iPhone users manage the time they spend using their smartphones.  It includes a dashboard that displays frequently used apps and the amount of time the user tends to spend on each.  It also allows users to set limits for certain apps, such as one hour a day for Facebook.

With iOS 12, Apple is also focusing on improving existing functionality rather than, as it has done in the past, adding new features and functionality. First it addresses speed issues: Apps will start two to three times faster with iOS 12.  Users will be able to create custom emoji in Messages and FaceTime will support group calls of up to 32 people.

A new augmented reality-enabled app called Measure will size objects such as posters and picture frames upon request.  Users can take a photo and share the dimensions as well.

Apple will permit third-party apps to connect to Siri via a new app called Shortcuts, which will allow a user to say or do something, such as arrive at a movie theater and have Siri take action such as turning on the do-not-disturb mode. Siri will also be able to perform multiple tasks, such as setting a Homekit-enabled thermostat, turning lights on, and texting someone at home after being told, “Hey Siri, I’m heading home.”

Apple has revealed a collection of Siri improvements coming to iOS 12, centered on a new app called “Shortcuts.” Shortcuts will let users connect certain third-party apps to Siri to greatly streamline voice controls. For example, the Tile app will let you add a shortcut to Siri so you can say, “I lost my keys,” activating Siri and showing Tile actions right in the Siri UI.

Apple is also introducing a new Do Not Disturb during Bedtime feature that dims the iPhone’s display and hides all notifications until the user updates status in the morning. It will also enhance the time and date display to appear more like an alarm clock.

For drivers, Apple is adding support for third-party navigation apps such as Google Maps and Waze to Apple CarPlay, its in-vehicle touch-based display interface that functions as an extension of a driver’s iPhone.

With the introduction of watchOS 5 for the Apple Watch, the company is introducing a 21st century version of the walkie-talkie that will allow friends to communicate without placing a phone call.  The new operating system will also automatically recognize when a user starts a workout and it supports exercise competitions among friends.   WatchOS 5 will not be available for the original Apple Watch, the company announced.

Finally, Apple is also disabling tracking software in the Safari browser that companies that sell ads such as Facebook and Google embed in web pages to track activity across various sites.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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