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The 6 biggest highlights from Apple WWDC 2018

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Apple kickstarted its annual WWDC event today with a keynote led by CEO Tim Cook, where he introduced all the latest updates for iOS 12 and the new macOS. The keynote this year comes off of a quieter season for Apple. The company just had a press event back in March for its educational iPad launch in the midst of strong iPhone sales but unfavorable news cycles around HomePods leaving ring marks on wooden tables, defective MacBook Pro keyboards, and the fallout since confirming that it throttled iPhone speeds for depreciating batteries.

Starting today, the company hopes to set a new tone for the year. Here are some of the highlights.

iOS 12 gets in on Time Well Spent

As Craig Federighi puts it, the next unsurprising update to your Apple devices’ mobile OS, “you guessed it” — iOS 12. The breakout highlight is the digital health dashboard that leaked last week and was confirmed today, which Apple says is designed to help curb smartphone overuse. Now, you can set Do Not Disturb for when you’re heading to bed, group notifications so you aren’t overwhelmed by too many lock screen bubbles, and set a timer for how long you want to use apps daily.

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Unlike Android’s rendition of the feature, Apple will allow users to ignore and snooze the screen time limit they’ve put on themselves. iOS 12 users can also set allowances for managed devices for kids.

More visual fun on iOS 12

Apple is following up Samsung’s AR Emoji with Memoji, which let users customize the faces to whatever they’d like to look like. There’s also a “Tongue Detection” mode now, so you can make Animoji... stick their tongues out.

There’s a whole lot of stuff coming in the form of suggestions. In Photos, Apple is drawing a lot of inspiration from Google Photos by offering search suggestions for specific people, places, or events. There’s even a Facebook-like On This Day reminder of a picture you took years ago. You can also use multiple search terms to search for images. Again, this is all stuff Google Photos has had for a while.

In Messages, there are new Animoji, stickers, text, and a drawing tool built into the app camera, and iOS 12 will now support Group FaceTime that lets you chat with up to 32 people. You can FaceTime in your Animoji or Memoji overlay as well.

Siri gets an update... but not quite the one you’re looking for

Siri is getting suggestions, too, with some app actions that it thinks you may want to do based on your smartphone usage behavior. A new Shortcut app lets you add your own action as well if you want to customize an action, such as an order at the coffee shop with all your specific dietary preferences. You can combine multiple actions as well, such as what radio station to play, a thermostat setting, or a text message to your kids letting them know you’re on the way — all set to the Siri command that you’re headed home.

You can also combine the shortcuts with third-party devices, such as a Tile, so you can ask it to locate lost items with your own personalized trigger phrase.

macOS Mojave announced

Apple is continuing with its macOS naming structure after beautiful landscapes, with macOS Mojave. The new operating system brings Dark Mode, which not only turns Finder windows black, but it comes with an inverted look to XCode, too.

Coming off the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, there’s an obvious emphasis on privacy, with a new Safari feature that preemptively blocks tracking sites like Facebook’s Like and Comment feature and asks you to allow it to appear when you’re browsing a website. Apple will also only give sites a “simplified system configuration” to help prevent them from being able to identify and fingerprint your device for advertisements.

Apple's new Safari feature

How Apple wants to protect you from Facebook.

Posted by The Verge on Monday, June 4, 2018

The Mac App store is getting a redesign that features new sections that better highlight video previews, ratings, and editor’s choice picks. Some new apps coming include Office 365, Lightroom CC, and BBEdit.

In productivity, Mojave will add a bunch of quick actions, such as organizing your desktop by Stacks to clean up all the files sitting around or choose to watermark multiple files or sign a PDF document just by selecting a menu option from the sidebar. Even screencapping videos will now be quicker from the keyboard shortcut, rather than going through QuickTime to screen record. In Keynote, a neat new tool lets you sync up with your phone so you can snap photos and automatically add them to the document.

Home is coming to Mojave as well, so you can adjust all your smart home gadgets from a Mac dashboard or ask Siri on the desktop to make changes.

watchOS 5 takes on Fitbit

The Apple Watch’s fitness features are about to become more social with the new watchOS 5. Soon, you can challenge friends to fitness competitions, get digital awards, and record workouts retroactively in case you forget to press start or if workout tracking doesn’t start automatically.

Apple’s adding WebKit for watchOS so users can browse some website on the Watch, such as a restaurant menu optimized for the tiniest screen Apple sells. Podcast support will also come to the latest Apple Watch OS, as well as interactive notifications such as Siri Suggestions and Shortcuts.

There’s a new Walkie-Talkie feature coming as an Apple Watch app. Once you grant permission for a contact to send you a message, they can drop in and send you a voice memo. It won’t work like an Amazon Echo Show, per se; you still have to click to play the recording (sent over cellular or Wi-Fi connection) instead of the sound just immediately playing when a message is received.

Dolby Atmos arrives on Apple TV 4K

At last, Dolby Atmos support is coming to Apple TV 4K. In the fall, Apple says it will update its iTunes library to include Dolby Atmos on supported movies, TV shows, and music videos for free. The Apple TV will also support cable service with Charter Spectrum, as well as Live News and Sports channels on the app.

Charter Spectrum support is expected to arrive late this year, where Apple TV will also provide “Zero Sign-On” to let you automatically log into streaming account without requiring secondary authentication.

Want more Apple news? For a comprehensive look at everything coming to iOS 12, macOS Mojave, and more, check out our storystream.