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The 9 biggest highlights from Apple WWDC 2019

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iOS, macOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and then some

At WWDC 2019, Apple announced a slew of software updates headed toward the Apple family of devices, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac desktops and laptops, Apple TV, and Apple Watch. There’s also the announcement of the new Mac Pro, a powerful computing device that hasn’t been refreshed since 2013.

Here’s a quick summary of the biggest highlights from the two-hour keynote.

iOS 13 brings dark mode and updated apps

Dark mode for iOS is official. It was so welcome that there was an audible squeal in the audience. A lot of apps are getting small updates: there’s now also swipeable texting in Messages and suggested contacts for when you share things with those you message most frequently. The music app also brings a lyric mode that shows the words live alongside the song. Memoji are getting more personalization tools, like new makeup options, hairstyles, and accessories.

Reminders is getting a large refresh. For example, if you tag someone in a reminder, you’ll also get that reminder the next time you message that contact when it’s time to chat about whatever you had noted before.

Maps is getting a much bigger update that offers more a detailed map and a shortcut on the launch page that shows your favorite spots and collections of places saved. When you tap on a place, you’ll get a street view photo up top that you can tap to enlarge and look around in 360-degree view or tap again to travel down the road. There’s also a mode for sending your estimated time of arrival to friends when you’re commuting.

The Photos app now has a photo sorting mode that divides your pictures into days, months, and years so you can more easily browse your images sorted by timeline. Each section is separated by a highlight reel or top photos / videos.

Developers can access a beta for iOS 13 today, and the public can try it in July. The final consumer version will arrive for everyone in the fall.

New security protocols for HomeKit and app permissions

Today’s announcements are also beefing up security from third-party offenders: you can now elect to have apps ask you every time whether you want to allow your location information — all other times, iOS will cut off access to that data until an app needs it to function. Apple’s also building its own single sign-on feature that uses your device’s Face ID authentication to log in to different apps and services. You can even use to share or hide your email address, and if you decide to hide it, Apple will create a random email account that forwards information from the third-party to your actual email.

There are extended security protocols for HomeKit, too, including a new Secure Video mode that encrypts video footages locally before sending that information to the cloud. Apple will offer 10 days of recording without eating into your iCloud storage. Apple will also offer similar encryption support to routers, too, with partners like Linksys, Eero, and Charter Spectrum.

Siri now has a more natural voice, with new features on CarPlay and AirPods

Siri has a slightly new voice. The voice assistant is now generated entirely by a neural text-to-speech technology rather than a human-based recording.

There’s extended support for Siri on other Apple devices like the AirPod. On the Bluetooth earbuds, Siri can read your incoming messages and let you respond immediately. (We’ll have to double-check after the keynote that you need to confirm wanting to respond before Siri starts the voice dictation, as the demo suggests it is immediate.) You can now also split AirPods if you want to share it with a friend while streaming content.

On the HomePod, the speaker can now recognize between different voices for personalized responses. When you’re commuting to and from the home, you can also tap your iPhone over the HomePod to transfer where you’re at in a song between the two devices.

A few new updates round out Siri: CarPlay support is now compatible with more third-party apps like Pandora and Waze, and Siri can suggest automated shortcuts based on your activities and connected apps and smart home devices.

The iPad gets its own OS

Apple now recognizes the iPad as its own platform by spinning off iOS into its own iPad-specific system. App switching on Slide Over mode can be accessed by just dragging up and to the side or easily split screen by dragging apps side by side. You can split screen using the same app, such as viewing two notes at once or two emails at once to reference each other, for example.

File view also looks a bit more like it does on macOS, with ways to browse through column view and share folders on iCloud. iPads will also now support USB thumb drives or camera imports from USB cables directly between the two devices. There’s are some new text editing gestures, too, such as a three-finger pinch / spread to copy, cut, and paste or a three-finger swipe left and right to undo and redo.

macOS Catalina

Say goodbye to iTunes: in the new version of macOS, called Catalina, Apple will break up the app into three separate apps for Music, Podcasts, and TV. The Podcast app lets you search for the show and episode based on content, similar to what Google announced at its own I/O conference last month. The TV and Music apps also look just like what was leaked earlier, with more colorful icons on the side that allow you to browse through content by genre and recommendations.

The Mac also supports the iPad as a second display — offering a workaround for those who wanted a touchscreen on their MacBooks. (Of course, that requires owning two Apple products.) Apple calls this feature Sidecar. The iPad can be connected via both wired and wireless connections.

Both iOS and macOS will soon offer voice control that lets you control everything from opening apps and adjusting the volume to other actions like editing text. Voice dictations are processed locally on the device without sending any voice information to the cloud.

On the apps front, a new Find My app will now let you search for your device even if it’s offline by using Bluetooth beacon that bounces off other Apple devices near the misplaced device. Screen Time is coming to the Mac as well to enforce more limitations across devices.

Lastly, Apple announced Project Catalyst, a framework that lets developers port iPad apps to the Mac (previously codenamed as “Marzipan”). Developers can access Catalyst today and just check off Mac in Xcode to simply extend support over to the desktop OS.

SwiftUI makes coding faster

Another little something for the developers: SwiftUI is a new framework to make coding on Apple’s coding language even faster. You can drag and drop content right into the preview of the app and begin building the code without any of the manual typing. It also automatically offers support for international languages that reads right to left, and, of course, dark mode. You can even use this framework to build various Apple OS apps, from the Watch to TV to the iPad.

Apple says the resulting product should require fewer lines of codes overall, allowing devs to adopt new features without adding much to their workload.

An expensive new Mac Pro is here

WWDC is not always a hardware event, but that doesn’t mean devices haven’t been announced here before. Today, Apple unveiled the new Mac Pro, which has been completely redesigned from the trash can aesthetic from 2013. The device is a lot more angular that looks a bit more... like a laundry basket? A cheese grater? Anyway. It has handles up top and cutouts all along the side for maximum airflow.

Inside, the Mac Pro supports Intel Xeon processor up with up to 28 cores and up to 1.5TB of memory. There are six slots for memory expansion and eight PCI slots, three Thunderbolt ports, two USB-C, and two USB-A ports. There’s a lot going on in the graphics department as well — the included module supports AMD Radeon Pro 580X or the Radeon Pro Vega II, and can be configured to add up to two Vega IIs. A new processing card supports up to three streams of 8K or 12 streams of 4K. To top off customization, you can even add wheels to the Mac Pro shell for added portability.

The monitor is a 32-inch LCD screen with a Retina 6K display and a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Apple calls its display “Extreme Dynamic Range,” or XDR, and it can connect six displays for up to 120 million pixels of display.

As you can imagine, all this power won’t come cheap. The Mac Pro starts with an 8-core Intel Xeon, 32GB of memory, and a 512GB SSD for $5,999, while the Pro Display XDR is $4,999. The stand is sold separately for another $999. All will be available later this fall.

tvOS brings multiuser support

The new tvOS will obviously receive support for new TV-based services that Apple announced in March, but the update also brings a redesigned homepage that shows previews of TV shows and movies, similar to what you might find on Amazon’s UX on the Fire TV and Twitch. Ahead of Apple Arcade’s release, Apple also announced that the Apple TV will support more third-party game accessories like the Xbox One and PS4 controllers.

The new tvOS offers multiuser support as well to show personalized recommendations on shows and music based on the content you consume. The music playback UI now shows live lyrics that follow along with the song just like on iOS 13.

watchOS gets its own App Store

The new watchOS 6 update will bring its own dedicated App Store that you can search through via Siri, scribble, and voice dictation. A few new Apple-specific apps are coming to the device, including a calculator app that can quickly calculate a tip and split bills with friends and a voice memo app for recordings on the fly.

There are new Health and Fitness updates as well, such as long-term activity trends of how your fitness levels have changed over the past months and year.

Apple is also adding menstrual cycle tracking to the Watch for female health to get alerts on upcoming periods and when their fertile windows are. There’s a new complication for noise levels to indicate the decibels of the room and give you a warning if you’re spending extended time in a room that could damage your hearing. That feature will also be made available on the Health app on the iPhone.

There’s a lot more coming out of WWDC, so be sure to follow The Verge this week for all the latest news out of this event.