Today’s announcements from Apple, the concise edition

Every time Apple has big announcements I like to publish my concise overview of what was announced. Today’s event, WWDC, is Apple’s World Wide Developers’ Conference. As such, the announcements are geared more for developers. But what do typical consumers want to know?

As Apple does in June of every year, they announced their software updates that are slated to be released in the fall. Today developers receive access to pre-releases of this new software so that they can prepare their apps, taking advantage of new tools and fixing bugs. And anyone who signs up for Apple’s beta program will have access to this software to provide feedback and crash reports to Apple beginning in July.

All of the software is scheduled for release “This Fall”, but judging from recent years we can usually expect iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS to be released the second or third week of September, and macOS to be released a week later.

Please do not install prerelease software on a computer or device that is important to you. There will be bugs. Probably really bad bugs that could cause your devices to not work or to crash frequently. On occasion, Apple has changed course on major features that have required testers to erase devices. Know the risks and be okay with the possibility of being really annoyed or lose information if you’re not careful. Better yet, install it on a secondary Mac or an iPad that you use to tinker with but you don’t really depend on.

iOS 13 and iPadOS 13

Apple is splitting iOS into two different OSes this year: iOS will continue to be for iPhone and iPod Touch, but iPadOS will now be for iPad. This makes sense as the two platforms have been starting to differ in features in recent years, and I expect them to diverge even further. For now though, since many new features are identical I’m lumping both together in this article. You can read Apple’s complete published iOS 13 new features and iPadOS 13 new features.

This upgrade will require at minimum:

  • iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, SE
  • iPod Touch 7th generation (released last week)
  • iPad Mini 4
  • iPad 5th generation
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Pro (any model)

This means iPhone 5s, 6, 6 Plus, iPod Touch 6th generation, the original iPad Air, and iPad Mini 3 all are left behind on iOS 12.

iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 are massive updates this year, with lots of long-requested features as well as a lot of surprises. Here are some of my favorites that I know many of my customers will be excited to see.

  • Dark Mode can switch to white text on black using Control Center or based on time of day. This makes your device less obtrusive to others in low light and can even save battery power if you have an OLED display.
  • Swype-style keyboard lets you type by dragging your finger.
  • Connect to WiFi and Bluetooth devices in Control Center without having to open Settings.
  • Automatic Personal Hotspot, Persistent Personal Hotspot, and Family Sharing Hotspot will allow your Apple devices to automatically connect via your iPhone or a family member’s iPhone, or even leave the connection running continually.
  • Redesigned CarPlay allows Siri to activate Waze, keeps Siri from taking over your screen, and allows iPhone to display a different app from the CarPlay screen so passengers can browse music without interrupting your navigation.
  • Redesigned Reminders app with nested reminders, tag a person to get a reminder next time you message them, and much more.
  • Connect a friend’s AirPods (1st or 2nd gen) or PowerBeats Pro to share audio, just like we used to with headphone splitters (device released in 2017 or later required).
  • Fonts will be available in the App Store.
  • Files got a major upgrade with download management, zip/unzip, iCloud Folder Sharing, SMB server access, and even USB drive access!
  • Maps gets Collections, which are lists of favorites that you can share with others. Look Around, similar to Google Street View but sleeker and possibly more powerful. Share ETA with others.
  • Location Sharing for apps has a new “Just Once” option if you are worried an app will continue to track you.
  • iPad gets home screen widgets.
  • iPad gets mouse support (in a limited fashion at least for now)

macOS 10.15 Catalina

In keeping with Apple’s naming convention of places in California, this year’s Mac system software is named for Catalina Island off the coast of California. This is a pretty significant update that brings a lot of iOS features to the desktop along with a lot of accessibility, security, and privacy features.

This upgrade is compatible with 2012 and later Macs, the same as macOS Mojave.

Apple publishes a much longer list of updates but here are some of my favorites:

  • iTunes is being broken out into Apple Music, Apple Podcast, and Apple TV, just as they are on iOS. iTunes now exists only as the brand name of Apple’s digital store. Each app can sync to your devices via the cloud or by USB.
  • Mobile device backup and sync is now in Finder.
  • Sidecar adds iPad support for a secondary display wirelessly or wired, allows you to use your iPad as a tablet without any special support from apps.
  • Activation Lock anti-theft for computers with a T2 chip.
  • Screen Time has been extended to Mac.
  • Project Catalyst allows iPad apps to be ported to Mac very easily.
  • Approve software installations and other security prompts with a double click of the side button on Apple Watch.

tvOS 13

Supported by all tvOS devices (Apple TV 4 and 4K). There are two major new features:

  • Multiuser support so the TV app can track different family members shows individually.
  • Support for Xbox 1S and PlayStation Dualshock 4 controllers

watchOS 6

watchOS 6 adds many new features, really bringing the device toward something that nearly stands on its own. Though as it is right now, it still requires a paired iPhone running iOS 13 or later.

This year no Watch models have dropped off the update list, meaning it will work on models as far back as Series 1.

  • New apps include Audiobooks, Voice Memos, Calculator, and App Store.
  • Audio streaming API will allow apps such as Pandora and third-party podcast apps to stream content over LTE and Wi-Fi.
  • Activity Trends will encourage you to increase your activity over time.
  • Noise app alerts you of high decibels.
  • Reproductive cycle tracking.

HomePod OS

The HomePod is getting a few new features, including the ability to recognize specific voices so that multiple members of the house can access custom music stations and phone functions such as text messaging and notes. Also added is the ability to transfer audio and calls to or from the HomePod simply by tapping it with your iPhone.

Mac Pro & Pro Display XDR

Apple’s new Mac Pro and their Pro display were announced today. Few of my customers are the target market for these products, so I’m just going to say that if you are in the market for a super powerful computer then you should look into these further. The computer and the display start at $5,999 each. If these prices sound absurd to you then you are not who Apple wants to sell this computer to. The cost isn’t because they are luxury items; it’s because the computer can process massive amounts of data, and because the display has perhaps the most accurate color of any monitor ever made. They are made for people whose livelihood depends on turning out high-quality video and images fast.


  • HomeKit-certified routers will firewall devices so that if an IOT device gets hijacked the damage it can cause is limited. This is coming at first to routers from Linksys and Eero.
  • Sign In With Apple is Apple’s privacy-minded alternative to Facebook sign-in or Google sign-in. Information like email and name can be provided if you choose, but you can also provide a dummy address which you can disable at any time. Website and app developers will need to choose to integrate this feature.
  • HomeKit automations can trigger AirPlay 2 speakers to play specific songs, playlists, or radio stations.
  • Find My combines Find My iPhone and Find Friends. Can now find an offline device enlisting iOS 13 devices in the wild, similar to Tile.
  • Voice Control allows you to entirely control iPhone, iPad, and Mac by voice. It’s really one of the most impressive demos I saw today (scroll down to the Accessibility section).