WWDC: Apple is diving into AI. Here are the latest updates to iPhone, iOS an...

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Published Time: 10.06.2024 - 14:04:21 Modified Time: 10.06.2024 - 14:04:21

The keynote began at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern, and we are updating this story as the company lays out its vision. Here’s what Apple has announced. WWDC, WWDC 2024

The keynote began at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern, and we are updating this story as the company lays out its vision. Here’s what Apple has announced.

Apple’s new phone software iOS 18, which is expected to roll out in September, doesn’t bring any mind-blowing changes. But there may be some tweaks you like. The iPhone’s display is getting more customizable: iOS18 users will be able to place apps anywhere on their home screens, shift all apps into “dark mode” with a black background, or select color schemes to groups of apps (like green for travel or pink for shopping). App-makers can also create their own icons for the control screen where your flashlight tool lives, so you can add controls for your car, garage door or home security system. New privacy features help control who can see what on your phone. You can lock apps behind Face ID or hide them entirely in a secret folder. Use your new powers for good and not evil, when possible. Apple Maps is also adding a trails option, which could pair nicely with its satellite SOS option for who are lost in the woods.

Texting and messages are getting some big tweaks too. You probably fire off countless text messages a day without even thinking it. In iOS 18, you’ll be able to do that even when you’re far off the grid. Apple confirmed that, once its latest update lands, users will be able to send iMessages — and even standard, green-bubble text messages — via satellite connection. Previously, the satellite communication features built into certain iPhones only let you send text messages to emergency services when out of reach of traditional cell service.

Also new to the fold: New text effects to add emphasis, gravitas, or whimsy to your messages, and the ability to “tapback” on incoming messages with any emoji — not just a chosen few. Meanwhile, support for RCS — a more modern messaging standard that Apple begrudgingly embraced at the end of last year — should make texting between iPhones and Android devices feel more up-to-date.

Some of the changes coming to iPads via software update are transplants from iOS, such as tools to personalize your tablet’s homescreen or its Control Center. Others are seemingly minor, as is the case with a new floating tab bar that keeps an app’s menu and options out of the way when you don’t need them.

Honestly though, some of the most interesting features coming to Apple’s tablets mainly seem geared toward who like to jot things down. A long-awaited Calculator app includes the ability to write out math equations and expressions with an Apple Pencil, for the app to solve automatically. Note-takers, meanwhile, may soon see their chicken scratch transformed into something more intelligible thanks to Smart Script, a tool that analyzes your handwriting and improves it.

The software powering Apple’s most ambitious — and perhaps most divisive — product is getting an upgrade after just four months on the market.

When visionOS 2 becomes available this fall, owners of the company’s $3,499 Vision Pro headset will be able to view any of their photos — not just ones captured in a special, “spatial” format — in a slightly 3D way. The headset’s virtual desktop feature, which lets users peer at a purely digital version of their Mac computer’s screen, is being updated to offer a much wider view that’s better suited to multitasking in virtual reality. And a modified take on the headset’s travel mode means owners can use their pricey headsets on trains without their virtual windows sliding around in the front of them. The company also said it is working on bringing more content to the headset, including an original movie.

When you’re wearing Apple’s popular wireless earbuds, an upcoming software update will let you respond to Siri with a nod — which is a little more helpful than it sounds. If Siri announces you have an incoming call, for instance, a quick nod or shake of the head will signal to Apple’s virtual assistant whether you’re will to chat. Apple’s AirPods Pro are also set to receive a voice isolation feature that makes your side of a conversation more clear when you’re moving through noisy environments.

Changes to Apple Watch in the upcoming watchOS 11 will give us even more ways to track our health at a granular level, from inputting our effort level during workouts to tracking the gestational age of a pregnancy. You can even use the new Vitals app to watch how your current temperature, heart rate and sleep quality compare to past weeks. But perhaps the most welcome change is an escape from the tyranny of the Health app step counter. Now you can opt out of closing your rings when you need to rest or recover without breaking your streak.

Monday’s announcements couldn’t come soon enough for the company. Since the beginning of the year, Apple — once the most valuable company in the world by market cap — has fallen behind the likes of Microsoft and Nvidia, two firms that have seen their fortunes flourish thanks to a brewing AI revolution. During that same period, Apple also began to wind down its decades-long work on an autonomous electric car, with many staffers on that project being shifted to work on the company’s burgeoning AI efforts.

Whatever the outcome, all eyes are on Apple to see how it navigates its entry into a field that rivals have already found considerable success in.

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