In Review

WWDC 2019 round-up: iOS 13, macOS 10.15 Catalina, new Mac Pro and more

Software updates took centre stage at yesterday’s conference

Apple has announced a host of software updates and the launch of the company’s most expensive computer to date, after kicking off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Headlining the tech giant’s keynote, at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in California, was the unveiling of iOS 13, the latest version of the software that powers iPhones. Apple also showcased its next-generation Mac Pro desktop computer, along with a new 32in 6K monitor that replaces the firm’s old Thunderbolt Display.

As expected, the firm didn’t use the event to launch the rumoured iPhone 11, with the smartphone expected to debut instead in September.

But there is plenty for fans to get their teeth into at the conference, which runs until 7 June. Here’s what we’ve learned so far. 

iOS 13

The newly revealed iOS 13 operating system will soon be powering Apple’s more recent iPhone and iPad range. In contrast to last year’s iOS 12 update, which mainly focused on reliability and the performance of older phones, this year’s release introduces a host of new features and overdue design tweaks to some existing apps. 

One of the key new features is Dark Mode, which debuted on macOS last year, says 9to5Mac. This feature allows users to swap the lightly coloured menu bars for a dark grey tone, making it easier to view their phone’s screen at night.

Another new mode offers a more private way to sign in to services and apps. With the Private Sign In feature, instead of “using a social account or filling out forms, verifying email addresses or choosing passwords, customers can simply use their Apple ID to authenticate”, the tech site reports. Apple then protects their privacy by providing developers with a unique random ID.

The software update also brings a host of usability improvements. TechRadar reports that the camera app will get a much-needed makeover, including the addition of more adjustment controls for photo and video editors.

Overall performance and efficiency have been improved, too. The Face ID security feature will unlock iPhone handsets 30% faster than before, while the size of app updates have been reduced by roughly 60%.

And in another key change, iOS will no longer be identical on iPhones and iPads. Instead, iOS 13 will be called “iPad OS” on Apple’s tablets and will feature “improved file management and a new version of Safari” for an experience more like that on a desktop computer, says CNet

macOS 10.15 Catalina 
macOS Catalina

Apple has revealed that the next version of its computer operating system - version 10.15 - will be called Catalina, after Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles. 

Although macOS Catalina doesn’t look all that different from the current Mojave software, the update introduces support for iPad apps - meaning computer users will soon be able to tap into a significantly larger software library than before.

Apple has also confirmed rumours that iTunes will be axed, 18 years after former company chief Steve Jobs debuted the popular app at the Macworld conference. 

The app currently acts as a media hub that contains the user’s music, video and podcast library. But on macOS Catalina, the multimedia software will be replaced by three separate apps - Music, TV and Podcasts - mirroring the company’s media strategy on its iOS devices, notes The Verge

New Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR

WWDC may be Apple’s annual software showcase but this year’s keynote also included the unveiling of two new pieces of hardware: the next-generation Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR. 

The new Mac Pro replaces the cylindrical model launched in 2013 with a more traditional desktop tower. The stainless steel machine is the company’s “most expensive computer yet”, costing $5,999 (£4,730), The Guardian reports.

The computer is also one of Apple’s most powerful machines to date, and can be equipped with a 28-core Intel Xeon processors and up to 1.5TB worth of ram. To put that into context, Apple’s £2,699 15in MacBook Pro has a maximum ram capacity of 32GB, which is plenty of memory for most users.

Joining the new Mac Pro is Apple’s new Pro Display XDR, a 32in computer monitor with a 6K resolution and support for high-dynamic range (HDR) video. 

The Pro Display XDR is also quite pricey, at $4,999 (£3,940), and that doesn’t include a stand, sold separately for $999 (£790), says Apple news site Macworld

What else was announced?

Alongside the unveiling of macOS Catalina and iOS 13, the tech giant announced the new tvOS 13 for its TV streaming box and the watchOS 6 for its range of smartwatches. 

The revamped TV software comes with an all-new design that Apple says is “designed for discovery”, MacRumors reports. Features include a small video that plays in the background when hovering over a new app or TV show, to give the user a short preview. 

Like a Netflix account, multiple users can be signed up to an Apple TV box, meaning “you can easily switch between family members and change entire aspects of the operating system depending on who is using it”, the tech site says. 

Meanwhile, watchOS 6 introduces a range of new faces to customise, as well as a revamped version of the Health app that lets users monitor their hearing, says Gizmodo. The App Store also makes its way onto Apple’s wearables for the first time, allowing users to download apps straight from their smartwatch. 

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