Headlines

WWDC 2024 – our favourite new features for iPhone, iPad and Mac

WWDC 2024 – our favourite new features for iPhone, iPad and Mac

Apple’s annual developer conference always grabs headlines (Picture: Apple)

WWDC – or Dub Dub Dee Cee – is now well underway at Apple’s Cupertino HQ in Silicon Valley, and as always, its annual developer conference has made plenty of waves across the tech industry.

First and foremost is the company’s belated dive into artificial intelligence, an area in which it has seemingly been behind the competition.

That’s not to say Apple hasn’t been using machine learning all along – the iPhone has long offered basics such as predictive typing, and Siri is already powered by the technology.

However, with generative AI turbocharging Microsoft and Google, it has been a bit of a surprise to see the company seemingly dragging its feet.

One reason has been security concerns – more of which later – but with the introduction last night of Apple Intelligence and an official partnership with ChatGPT owner OpenAI, it is now gearing up to challenge its rivals.

Sharing the news, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: ‘We’re thrilled to introduce a new chapter in Apple innovation. Apple Intelligence will transform what users can do with our products – and what our products can do for our users.

‘Our unique approach combines generative AI with a user’s personal context to deliver truly helpful intelligence. And it can access that information in a completely private and secure way to help users do the things that matter most to them. This is AI as only Apple can deliver it, and we can’t wait for users to experience what it can do.’

That’s a lot of good marketing speak, but what will Apple Intelligence actually do for users?

Well, among the functions is the new, systemwide Writing Tools, designed to help users ‘rewrite’ proofread and summarise’ text in Mail, Notes, Pages and third-party apps. Not ideal for those of us who don’t even like predictive text, so hopefully it can be switched off.

Alongside helping write emails, it will also organise them with Priority Messages, reading emails for you and pushing the most urgent to the top of the pile, such as ‘a same-day dinner invitation or boarding pass’.

Likewise, it will also rank notifications in order of importance, surfacing those it thinks are most urgent, alongside key details, on the Lock Screen.

Apple Intelligence will organise your comms and allow you to create personalised emojis (Pictures: Apple)

And joy for journalists everywhere, it will now record and transcribe phone calls.

But the tools that will no doubt prove most popular will be Image Playground and Genmoji. Image Playground is Apple’s AI image generator, which will also be built into certain apps, including Messages.

Genmoji is the tool we’ve all been waiting a lifetime for – the ability to create your own emojis.

However, while Apple’s big leap into AI certainly took centre stage, there were plenty of other updates to products worth noting – here are some of our favourites.

Messaging anywhere

Probably not what you were expecting, but one that will certainly make people’s lives easier – iOS 18 will introduce Messages via satellite, meaning you can still contact people even when there’s no mobile signal or WiFi. Messages will still be end-to-end encrypted.

Finally, scheduled messages (Picture: Apple)

Organisational wizard

Better than messaging anywhere, for city-dwellers anyway, is being able to message anytime – of your choosing. Yes, message scheduling is coming, making sure you’ll never forget a birthday again (or more likely can schedule a reply so it’s ticked off the list but know you won’t get on back immediately and have to engage in a full conversation).

Safekeeping

Apple’s Keychain and passwords folder already offers users an excellent password manager to beef up your security, including notifying where passwords have been found in data leaks. The new app offers an enhanced version, also flagging passwords that are easily guessed.

Privacy boost – or cheater’s dream?

Apps in iOS 18 can either be locked separately from the main home screen – meaning it will need a passcode or passkey to open – or hide it entirely, so neither the app nor its contents can be inadvertently seen by anyone else.

AirPod upgrade

Got your hands full? Can’t chat? AirPods Pro (2nd generation) will now come with Siri Interactions, allowing users to nod their heads ‘yes’ or shake them ‘no’ to respond to Siri announcements.

Photo boost

Okay, this is strictly speaking an AI addition, but if you’ve been jealous of your Pixel-owning friends for Magic Eraser, Google’s incredible photo-editing tool, then welcome Clean Up, a new tool for removing unwanted objects in the background of your photos.

Users can now lock or hide apps (Pictures: Apple)

Two in one

Apple also unveiled macOS Sequoia, its new desktop operating system, which includes very handy iPhone Mirroring, allowing you to control your iPhone even if it isn’t to hand.

iPad basics

Can you believe, not only is the iPad 14 years old, it has also never had a calculator app? Until now that is. And it’s not just any calculator – with the Apple pencil, you can also hand write calculations and Apple’s new app Math Notes (sorry Brits) will convert and solve them.

Watch out

If the Apple Watch is integral to your health and fitness routine, then watchOS 11’s new Vitals app will be dreamy, highlighting key metrics to ‘help users make more informed day-to-day decisions’, while also measuring training loads to improve fitness and performance.

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web
browser that
supports HTML5
video

Up Next

Vision Pro finally crossed the Atlantic

If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Apple’s first VR/AR headset, here’s a date for your diary – it will finally be available on July 12, starting at a cool £3,499.

When will iOS 18 be released?

As is always the case, the new operating system won’t be released until later in the year, and is expected at the same time Apple releases the iPhone 16.

However, when it does arrive, the Apple Intelligence elements will only be available to owners of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone Pro Max, which run on the A17 Pro chip, or Macs or iPads powered by the M chip. 

That doesn’t mean iOS 18 won’t be available for other devices, but they won’t all offer the full range of features. iPhones older than the XS, released in September 2018, will not be compatible.

What is Elon Musk’s privacy issue with Apple’s AI?

Never one to let anyone steal the headlines, X and xAI owner Elon Musk posted after the keynote that Apple’s ChatGPT integration was an ‘unacceptable security violation’.

The OpenAI cofounder wrote on X: ‘If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level, then Apple devices will be banned at my companies. That is an unacceptable security violation.

‘And visitors will have to check their Apple devices at the door, where they will be stored in a Faraday cage.’

A Faraday cage is a box that blocks wireless signals in or out.

Now there may be an element of the tech bro feud going on here, but is Mr Musk right to have concerns?

Apple has always prided itself on privacy and security, even if that means just keeping all the data it gathers in-house

But by going big on AI, it is creating, if not opening, two doors for potential breaches.

Firstly, more advanced generative AI requires more computing power than can be held in your hand, meaning more of your data ends up in the cloud.

Secondly, an official link with OpenAI means bringing in a third-party, and relying on their security protocols to keep users safe.

However, yesterday OpenAI said: ‘Requests are not stored by OpenAI, and users’ IP addresses are obscured.’

In addition, Apple has assured users of their safety by unveiling what it calls ‘Private Cloud Compute’, which it stressed will mean ‘your data is never stored or made accessible to Apple’.

AI, and how users interact with it, is moving at rapid pace, and the full extent to which it uses our data may not yet be known, but it’s fair to say that anyone concerned over their privacy shouldn’t only be pointing the finger at Apple.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *