On Monday, Apple opened the 2016 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The event brought a host of updates for developers in the Apple ecosystem, but it carried some implications for the enterprise as well.
The event touched on Apple's watchOS, tvOS, macOS, and iOS. The primary impact will be felt by business users and professionals in terms of productivity and collaboration. Let's start by looking at the updates to watchOS.
SEE: BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Policy Template (Tech Pro Research)
The latest iteration of Apple's operating system for the Apple Watch, watchOS 3, was announced at WWDC 2016. This latest version of watchOS will keep your favorite apps in memory, and can perform background updates so you will always have the most up to date information.
Instant Launch allows your apps to launch without having to load. And, the new Dock feature allows you to set specific apps to be accessible through pushing the crown. These are glanceable, too, meaning they will show key information at a glance without the user having to fully open the app.
Much like in iOS, users can swipe up from the bottom to get to the control center. To respond to a message, users can choose the way they want to reply, like with voice or emoji; or they can scroll down for smart replies. A new feature called Scribble allows users to write letters down on the watch face to reply. Scribble works in English and Chinese.
Apps have been redesigned for one touch accessibility and will be getting support for Apple Pay. Business travelers in emergencies can use the SOS feature to connect to 911 and get notifications and GPS coordinates sent to their emergency contacts. It works in different countries as well so you don't have to remember different emergency numbers.
The developer preview of watchOS 3 is available today.
Apple's tvOS was updated last fall, so it makes sense that there weren't a ton of announcements centered around the system. Apple announced a new Apple TV remote app that gives you all the features of the Siri remote, but on your iPhone.
Siri voice search will allow you to search YouTube and movies by genre. For example, users can say "show me high school movies from the 80s" and they will be presented with films like Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Additionally, a new single sign-on feature allows you to sign in once without authenticating through all your apps and services, which will also come to iOS. Also, tvOS will get a dark mode theme and automatically download apps downloaded on other devices.
In keeping with the new naming theme for Apple operating systems, OS X is now macOS Sierra. This OS update has a big focus on continuity, with new Continuity features like Auto Unlock, which allows users to authenticate into their Mac with their Apple Watch. Another new feature, Universal Clipboard, allows users to copy text or an image from one device and paste it to another, automatically. Both of these features will be very useful for traditional office employees.
Sierra comes with iCloud updates, including files on desktops being available between multiple Macs. The new Optimize Storage feature will help users get rid of files they don't need so they can free up hard drive space, and iCloud will let you instantly access files you don't need very often, which could add some space.
Retailers should note that Apple Pay is coming to the web. Users click to pay with Apple Pay and then, using Continuity, they authenticate with their Apple Watch or with Touch ID on their iPhone.
For those professionals who live and die by their organizational skills, tabs are coming to all windows, not just on Safari. And, a new picture-in-picture feature will allow you to move your video to a small section of your screen while you are working on something else.
Siri is coming to the Mac with macOS Sierra, bringing with it more sophisticated file queries. Users can ask Siri to show them files that they worked on last week, or files about a specific topic or with a specific tag. To edit files, users can then drag and drop Siri image results, for example, over into their work.
The macOS developer preview is available today, and the public beta will be here in July. It will come to general availability in the fall.
SEE: Apple WWDC 2016: 5 things business professionals can expect (TechRepublic)
As expected, iOS got the most updates of the core line of operating systems with iOS 10.
Starting with the user experience, iOS is getting a lock screen redesign and a new feature called raise to wake, where you raise your wrist and the phone wakes up. Using 3D Touch, you can respond to messages or calendar invites without unlocking the phone. Control center got an additional area for music and a new area called Today View where you can add widgets, even from third-party apps, to be viewed by swiping from the lock screen.
Apple is opening up Siri to developers, so that it can work more closely with third-party apps. Siri intelligence is also coming to the iOS keyboard, using deep learning to provide better quick responses and intelligently schedule events based on text conversations. Siri will be able to check your calendar availability or paste a recent address you were searching for. iOS is also getting support for multilingual typing.
For the phone itself, iOS is getting voicemail transcription from incoming calls so you don't actually have to listen to them to know what the call was about. And, a new extension API will tell you if you're getting phone spam, which is especially helpful in countries like China.
The Contacts app will remember how you prefer to contact each person and will prioritize those methods in your address book. Another big update for professionals is that you will now be able to receive calls made to your work phone on your iPhone.
Messages, the most frequently used app on iOS, is getting support for rich links with artwork and will play shared videos in-line in the message transcript. Messages will now support handwritten responses, and is getting updates to emojis, stickers, new bubble effects, and full screen message effects.
Photos got an AI update; Maps is going to be open to developers; and Music and News will be redesigned. Additionally, HomeKit got an aggregator app called Home that will put all your connected devices under one point of access and make them available from the Command Center in iOS.
Lastly, a new app called Swift Playgrounds was announced that uses games to teach kids how to code. Apple CEO Tim Cook said they are giving it away for free because they want all schools to be able to teach coding. Apple closed the keynote talking about its dedication to differential privacy and end-to-end encryption, no doubt to assure users that the company is still focused on keeping its products as private as possible.
iOS 10 is available in developer preview today and will be available this fall to all users.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- At the 2016 WWDC, Apple announced updates to watchOS, tvOS, macOS, and iOS, but there weren't many critical updates for business users.
- The biggest productivity updates for professionals will be those made in macOS Sierra and iOS 10, including Continuity updates like Auto Unlock, and the ability to route your business phone to your iPhone.
- Apple announced a host of new features and updates for Siri, but they are running behind both Amazon and Google, which both recently made announcements in the space.
- Apple WWDC 2016: 5 things business professionals can expect (TechRepublic)
- So how much would Donald Trump's all-American iPhone really cost? (ZDNet)
- Browser wars: Is Chrome or Safari better for your Mac? (TechRepublic)
- iPhone demand "will remain feeble until at least early next year," claims Foxconn chairman (ZDNet)
- 5 ways to secure OS X (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.