Apple WWDC 2022 top picks: Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference has
It’s that time of year again, when big announcements at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference set the stage for Apple’s Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Watch ecosystems for the year ahead. iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13, watchOS 9 all received significant and important updates that consumers will be looking forward to when they land this (US) fall. As I installed the developer betas of iOS, macOS, and iPad OS on my devices today, I reflected on the main takeaways from the event, things that should stand out for Apple device users – here are my WWDC 2022 picks!
The All-New MacBook Air: Rumors swirled about the launch of colorful MacBook Airs (like the 2021 iMac) at WWDC, and while a brand new MacBook Air landed at WWDC, it was instead inspired by the design square of the 2021 MacBook Pro, elegant colors (Silver, Starlight, Gray and Midnight) and all. At 1.2kg and just over 11mm thick, the MacBook Air sports a 13.6-inch screen with a notched (but hopefully better) 1080p camera and a snap-on MagSafe power connector – you simply can’t miss the design cues that Apple’s most popular laptop has taken from its most pro-focused lineup. With the new Apple Silicon M2 chip inside, you can call it a baby MacBook Pro – which somewhat mirrors the Rs. 1,19,900 price increase. If you’re a fan of sustained performance that the Air’s fanless design probably can’t handle, you might want to consider the new M2-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro (Rs. 1,29,900), but with the whole thing new Air as good as it does, it will be a tough sell. Availability in July.
#M2 for Apple Silicon: Apple’s M1 chip was a really big deal, because it showed that Apple’s chip design prowess wasn’t just on paper, and the power efficiency and performance of the chip wasn’t just the boost Apple needed to move away from its Intel chips. The second-generation 5-nanometer M2 chip is said to be faster (18% on CPU and 35% on GPU), supports two additional cores on GPU, and up to 24GB of memory (from the 16 GB of the M1), but still only supports one external display. . I temper my expectations with M2. It’s not easy to pull off a computing stunt like the M1 every year, and M2 just needs to do the same things as M1, only marginally better, to extend its lead in the mobile computing market.
macOS Ventura: The big news for macOS was the Stage Manager mode which is a bit like a mashup of spaces and a set of vertically oriented groups of apps for different types of work, but it’s something that needs time to operate in a workflow. There were tidbits, like Undo Send and Reminders in the Mail app, and “Passwords”, i.e. Apple getting into the game of creating passwords for your websites or apps by linking them to your TouchID credentials.
Personally, the Continuity Camera feature is the one I’m most looking forward to – using your iPhone as a dedicated webcam for your Mac. Try this for an incredibly cool party trick – the iPhone can use the wide-angle camera on the back to simulate a dual-camera setup, with one lens pointing at you and the other showing a top-down view of everything what you might have on a table between you and the laptop.
iPadOS 16: That rumored multitasking update for iPad? That’s Stage Manager for you, only available on M1-powered iPad Pro and iPad Air. New workspaces and app arrangement layouts let you layer windows of different sizes in a single view, and you can drag and drop windows into view, or open apps from the Dock to create application groups that you can move between. It’s a solid move for better multitasking on the iPad – certainly seems more so than Stage Manager on the Mac – and it fits in nicely with improved external display support with resolutions up to 6K. What remains to be seen is how well this will work on iPads without Magic Keyboard attached.
Oh, and the Weather app is finally coming to iPad OS, as is the Freeform collaboration app where users can draw, doodle, and annotate directly from within a FaceTime session.
iOS16: iOS 16 gets a fresh coat of paint on the lock screen, with new fonts, depth effects and an almost Apple-Watch-esque level of complication customization. Live Activities lets you pin and manage notifications, like live sports scores or the progress of an Uber picking you up, right on your lock screen. Notifications can also be hidden and easily appear at the bottom of the lock screen without cluttering up your main lock screen. You can swipe between different lock screens and associate different focus modes with each lock screen, so you can have a lock screen for work and home (or work from home) and quickly switch between them! Along with all the improvements to Messages and Mail, two new features caught my eye – Apple’s device intelligence-based live text recognition capability extending to video (you can put a video pause on any frame and copy visible text into the frame) and Visual Look Up allowing you to press and hold the subject of an image to remove it from the background and share it in an application like Messages or WhatsApp.
watch OS 9: With the latest update, Apple Watch will get four new watch faces, including one for astronomy with live cloud coverage. The new meds app seems handy whenever I need to start taking pills daily, but I’m more interested in the long-awaited detailed sleep analysis features on what’s otherwise the best wearable in the world. In watchOS 9, sleep tracking now includes sleep stages, which uses signals from the accelerometer and heart rate sensor to detect when the user is in REM, central, or deep sleep.
Tushar Kanwar is a columnist and technical commentator, and tweets @2shar