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Notes from Apple’s WWDC Keynote—Highlights and Thoughts

We run through the top moments in Apple’s 2016 WWDC Keynote, held yesterday. Get the fast skinny on the big announcements presented in the two hour event. And we have some comments about Apple and architects as well.

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Apple didn’t introduce any new hardware this year at WWDC, including, and especially the new Mac Pro. We are sad about that but one thing is clear: no new hardware at all means Apple is poised to have a major hardware-focused event come Fall, when much of the software shown today actually ships for consumption.

So, Apple didn’t introduce any new Macs but it did introduce a new name for OS X—macOS. Actually, this is kind of an old name. “Mac OS” was the old name, but with a space between Mac and OS, and it evolved into Mac OS X back around 2000, when the Unix operating system replaced Mac OS 8 and 9.

So we are going back to something old, something familiar, but yet refreshed and new. While WWDC did not bring any new Macs themselves, it has definitely brought forward a clear and resonating focus on Apple’s oldest computing platform. We have also detected something and we’ll share that at the conclusion.

Here are some highlights from the keynote yesterday.

watchOS 3 — Faster and Better

watchOS 3 is getting faster. They are making app data up-to-date instantly, supporting background updates…in memory. Kevin Lynch explains the update. That, for example, bring up a sports app with scores is now like “7x faster but it feels like a million time faster.”

watchOS 3 adds a doc feature. So having a “doc” is now everywhere in Apple’s ecosystem of apps. So you an add your favorite apps quicker than in the older version. The side button (on Apple Watch) helps you get to them easily. Control Center is an upswipe just like in iOS. That is new too.

A cool new way to reply to messages is by writing the letters on top of each other in a feature called Scribble. Apple has added an Activity Rings watch face to see your updates all the time. You can swipe to get new watch faces now easily. So changing the nature of your Apple Watch’s appearance is now rapid and in the movement. Change your outfit—change your Apple Watch’s look.

01 - Apple is introducing a new Breath app, aimed at helping people learn to do deep breathing exercises; this app is a continuation of Apple's goals with bettering human health.

01 – Apple is introducing a new Breath app, aimed at helping people learn to do deep breathing exercises; this app is a continuation of Apple’s goals with bettering human health.

Apple’s new SOS feature is an emergency feature that works worldwide. You don’t need to know the emergency numbers in foreign countries any longer. Apple also allowed for fun competition with Activity Rings that you can share with family and friends. You can also send messages directly from within the Activity app.

Wheelchair users love the Apple Watch. It allows them to respond to messages without digging for their phones which are often buried inside pockets.

Apple has introduced a new app called Breathe. It is designed to help you do deep breathing exercises. (see image 01) You are guided by haptic feedback if you want to close your eyes or use the visual graphic feedback on the watch itself.

Physical workout apps can now run in the background, collecting data on your performance while your Apple Watch runs other apps in the foreground. A preview release for webOS 3 is available starting Monday and the new version ships free to users in the Fall.

tvOS — Apple TV and tvOS

“The future of TV is apps,” says Apple. There are now over 1300 video channels; and now over 6000 native apps in just 7 months. Sling app is new. Fox Sports app will bring four channels on one screen. Imagine that!?

Sketch Party…a new social game for adults and kids. These are some of the new cool treats.

A new version of the Remote app for iOS has all the features of the Siri Remote hardware unit. And it uses the hardware of the phone to play games. (eg: accelerometer and gyroscope). Apple is introducing “single-sign-on” and you sign-on once on Apple TV and you now have access to all your apps. If you have known the frustration of signing up for new Apple TV apps wherein you have to interrupt what you are doing and go visit a computer to finish the process, those days are over. Now that is very cool!

macOS—A new name, the same awesomeness

macOS Sierra. A big focus is Continuity and iCloud. Authentication for your Mac can now be your Apple Watch or iPhone. As you approach your Mac it opens for you.

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The next cool feature is Universal Clipboard. Now you can have your desktop available on all your Macs. Plus you can have those favorite files available on your iPhone as well. Apple has introduced a new way to gain back tons of storage space on your hard drive. Things like old mail attachments can be pushed up to the cloud. Redundant data and cache files can get eliminated smartly. This feature will gain your Mac a lot of storage room. And it will perform better.

Apple seems hot on showing architects using Macs and other Apple devices. We have noted architects and architectural software apps in several recent keynotes and product videos. Sadly, while Apple is great at recognizing that architects, as a professional group, are more naturally drawn to the platform than just about any other profession, they are failing miserably in recognizing what architects actually need in their computer hardware and software support. Don’t get me wrong—this is the best time ever to be an architect who loves the Mac. But, small mistakes are costing Apple big time in a market where they could own the whole industry nearly outright. Regardless, there is an architect taking advantage of Universal Clipboard in the image below. (image 02) 

02 - Here is an architect, working on macOS and iOS devices. Apple has introduced Universal Clipboard. When you copy anything from one device, it instantly becomes available on all your other devices for a paste entry into whatever app you are working on.

02 – Here is an architect, working on macOS and iOS devices. Apple has introduced Universal Clipboard. When you copy anything from one device, it instantly becomes available on all your other devices for a paste entry into whatever app you are working on. Apple has noticed architects love Macs, but hasn’t bothered to notice what they need to do with them.

Bringing Apple Pay to the web. This means you can have a “Pay with Apple Pay” button available. It means you can pay with your iPhone as a touch ID authentication in two-factor mode. Apple Pay is moving around the world as well.

Apple is bringing tabs to apps, including third-party apps even without any modification needed for the developer to achieve this. You may note that in the CAD world—if you follow this site closely—tabs have become a feature in several CAD apps. (see image 03)

Siri on the Mac. You can ask complex queries of Siri for finding files. And then you can save the combo query for Siri and it gets pinned to your Notifications bar.

Universal clipboard is powerful. You can take traces from drawing and sketch apps on iOS and then paste them into CAD and design tools on the desktop. That is a powerful new feature and enables the iPad to become more an extension of your Mac and vice versa. Same with iPhone.

03 - Apple's new macOS Sierra will introduce tabs in the Finder and applications windows automatically. Developers won't necessarily need to do anything and will gain this feature for free automatically. Interestingly, this "tabs" UI/UX evolution has been happening for awhile by developers but now everyone will have this.

03 – Apple’s new macOS Sierra will introduce tabs in the Finder and applications windows automatically. Developers won’t necessarily need to do anything and will gain this feature for free automatically. Interestingly, this “tabs” UI/UX evolution has been happening for awhile by developers but now everyone will have this. Notice the window above. Do you see Autodesk AutoCAD is shown?

You can select video and put it into “picture in picture mode.” This helps you watch stuff while continuing to work. Developer got a chance to grab macOS Sierra Monday.

Sierra will work on systems as far back as 2009. That is nearly eight years old. Nearly a decade old Mac will be able to run the very latest Mac operating system. We don’t know how well but that is remarkable. Windows releases have often forced upgrades to new hardware just after two releases.

iOS 10

New abilities in lock-screen with 3d touch and deep experiences. You can now slide from the right to get to your camera quickly, or from the left to get at widgets.

Siri is now open to developers. This is huge. This is what people have been wanting. Bringing Siri intelligence to QuickType is also new. “Now we are using deep learning to understand even more…” says Apple.

Locality on your device Siri uses more information from your other apps to figure out stuff in other apps. You can also do multi-lingual typing…two languages at once.

04 - Apple's iOS 10 will feature numerous improvements and new items, like Memories, a new feature in the Photos app. Memories uses artificial intelligence to learn people, places, scenes and other data in your images to learn about events, parties, moments—memories in your life. And then organize them for you automatically in the background and give you a unique perspective into your photo life.

04 – Apple’s iOS 10 will feature numerous improvements and new items, like Memories, a new feature in the Photos app. Memories uses artificial intelligence to learn people, places, scenes and other data in your images to learn about events, parties, moments—memories in your life. And then organize them for you automatically in the background and give you a unique perspective into your photo life.

Now in Photos you can see all your photos on a Map. But the big news in Photos this year is advanced computer recognition. Face recognition technology builds People albums automatically. Applying the same technology to object and scenes to figure out stuff….”We do 11 billion calculations on things like this to figure out there is water, a horse, a mountain…” says Apple. And with this you can do really powerful searching on a device. Artificial intelligence is a new push for Apple and what they are doing with Photos seems pretty powerful and just the beginning. (see image 04 above). 

Now using advanced artificial intelligence to cluster data based on location, people in scenes, et cetera, Photos can spot trips, people and topics….and all this advanced artificial intelligence can pull this all together into an intuitive UI that makes it really engaging. (see image 04 above). 

Finally HomeKit—Technology that Architects Need To Know About

Apple has been working hard to make HomeKit further support the home automation movement and have added significant new categories for items like air conditioners, air purifiers, humidifiers, cameras, and doorbells. These add to existing support for devices like thermostats, locks, sensors, lights, outlets, window shades, security, fans, and garage doors.

In essence, Apple HomeKit now supports the full gamut of items and equipment in the home that can be automated through smart Internet connections. This is in essence, Apple’s stake in the IoT (Internet of Things) technology movement.

Companies that support HomeKit, and are well known by architects, include companies like Lutron, Carrier, Velux, Schlage, Legrand, Leviton, LiftMaster, Honeywell and many others.

05 - Apple's work advances HomeKit. The new Home app will be available in the fall with iOS 10. Digital fencing means when you get home your garage door, lights, and other HomeKit items programmed to do so, can open, go on, etc, automatically by recognizing your physical proximity to your home.

05 – Apple’s work advances HomeKit. The new Home app will be available in the fall with iOS 10. Digital fencing means when you get home your garage door, lights, and other HomeKit items programmed to do so, can open, go on, etc, automatically by recognizing your physical proximity to your home.

Yesterday Apple introduced a new app they call simply, Home. When you launch the Home app, you can see all your HomeKit enabled devices and equipment. And of course Siri can also take care of all these tasks for you simply be speaking to your iPhone, for example. Apple has borrowed a common industry term in “scene” to record various combinations of lights, fans, window treatments, etc, for things like “good morning” which will turn on or off lights, open up shades, raise thermostats, etc.

AppleTV can serve as a secure point and enable digital fencing so that when you arrive home your AppleTV device will know you are home by sensing your iOS devices and automatically open the garage door for you. The Home app will run on iOS devices, from iPad, iPhone to Apple Watch.

Closing Comments

Apple didn’t introduce any new hardware at this year’s WWDC, a departure from most years in the 27 year-old history of the event centered on and for Apple’s software developers. But perhaps it introduced something just as great as any of the previous Jobs’ “one more things.”

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Tim Cook noted that Swift is the number one computer language on GitHub. And then he introduced Swift Playground, an entirely revolutionary new way to introducing coding to kids and anybody interested. Swift Playground runs exclusively on Apple iPad.

“We believe coding should be a required language in all schools. To help make this the case, we will make Swift Playgrounds available for free.”

To watch the keynote go here.