Apple’s annual WWDC event began Monday as these things always do: With a keynote featuring CEO Tim Cook and other executives, who revealed a handful of new software, features and other news from the Cupertino, Calif. tech giant.
The iPhone, of course, was a major focus. Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, unveiled iOS 12, the latest version of the software powering the iPhone and iPad. iOS 12 should be available later this year as a free update compatible with the same range of devices that can run iOS 11.
While Federighi said that improving speed and other performance was Apple’s major focus with iOS 12, he announced a handful of interesting new apps and features that will be available with the upgrade. Here’s a look at some of the standouts from Apple’s WWDC.
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Screentime and Do Not Disturb
Apple’s new Screentime app will allow users to see detailed reports about how often they use their iPhone and which apps they use most frequently. Users can also find out which apps most often make them pick up their iPhones. Time limits for particular apps will also be available to users, and parents can set those time limits for their children.
“We think this is going to be helpful for many people, but especially for some kids,” said Federighi while unveiling the app. “We think this will help families achieve a balance that’s right for them.”
Along similar lines, the iPhone’s Do Not Disturb will now let users mute incoming notifications overnight, for an hour, or while at a specific location. Taken together, these new features are an effort by Apple to address concerns about smartphone overuse.
Using the new Siri Shortcuts app, iPhone owners can build customized actions for Siri to perform upon hearing a given command. For instance, you might program Siri to pull up a live traffic report and your favorite driving music after saying “Siri, I’m heading home.” The feature appears similar to Workflow, an app Apple acquired last year. It’s also reminiscent of IFTTT, an app that connects various digital services with automated “recipes.”
New Animoji and Memoji
Apple is adding a handful of animated “animoji” with iOS 12, including a koala, T-rex and more. It’s also letting iPhone users create their own personal animoji avatars called “Memoji,” similar to Snap’s Bitmoji or Nintendo’s Mii. Animoji can be designed to look similar to users’ real-world appearance, or with a variety of digital accouterments like hats and costumes.
Apple’s FaceTime app is for the first time allowing more than two people join a call simultaneously. “Group FaceTime,” as it’s called, will support up to 32 users in the same conversation. Participants can use Memoji and other creative features, while Group FaceTime’s interface will automatically expand whichever user is currently speaking in the call.
Apple’s aptly-named Measure app takes advantage of the company’s developments in augmented reality to let users measure real-world objects, like furniture, picture frames and more. It’s a simple but potentially useful addition to the iPhone’s toolkit, particularly for crafters, builders, DIYers and so on.
Google Maps and Waze in CarPlay
Third-party mapping and navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze are coming to CarPlay, Apple’s in-car interface for using apps while driving.