Apple Inc is planning to unleash a slew of new apps, features and development tools at its annual software conference next month.
To improve its devices and strengthen its connection to customers, the consumer technology giant will continue to walk a fine line between wooing outside app makers while also competing against them.
The Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, starts on June 3. The company will reveal updates to the operating systems that run the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. Highlights include upgrades to core iPhone apps such as Maps, Reminders and Messages; new apps for the Apple Watch that make it more independent from the iPhone, and enhancements to the health tracking capabilities of Apple devices, according to people familiar with the plans.
Since launching the iPhone in 2007, Apple has pursued an aggressive approach to refreshing its mobile operating systems each year. The fast pace is taxing on Apple engineers, but the results have been impressive.
The company’s products are often unique and more capable than those of rivals because Apple’s home-grown software works so well with the hardware. The new updates also give users access to the latest services like Apple Music and the upcoming TV+ video-streaming subscription, which give Apple a recurring revenue stream.
It’s a delicate balance. Part of the allure of iPhones and iPads also comes from all the different apps made by independent developers. The company provides new tools for these partners, but it is increasingly building its own versions of popular apps, too. That helps differentiate its devices from rivals but sometimes upsets third-party developers.
Spotify Technology SA and other app makers have complained to European antitrust regulators that Apple’s own software and services give it an unfair advantage on the App Store. US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has proposed splitting the App Store from the rest of the company, although few other policymakers have supported the idea.
“Developers, from first-time engineers to larger companies, can rest assured that everyone is playing by the same set of rules,” Apple said in a statement rebutting Spotify’s complaint.
New features coming to the Apple Watch illustrate the balance the company must strike. Apple plans to add the App Store directly to the Watch so users can download apps on the go.
This could open up huge new opportunities for outside developers, boosting app installations. But Apple has its own new Watch apps in the works, too. There will be new health applications, a Calculator and a Books app for listening to audio books from your wrist, the people familiar with the plans said.
So far, Apple has managed to make the strategy work. The App Store drove $46.6 billion in spending last year, almost double the amount spent on Google’s Android equivalent, according to Sensor Tower estimates. That’s wooed more than 20 million developers who have created over 2 million apps for Apple’s platform.
At the same time, there are 1.4 billion active Apple devices in use, and 92 percent of iPhones and iPads run the latest operating system, or the version before that.
The App Store and other digital services are on course to generate more than $50 billion in annual revenue soon.
Here are the software features Apple is planning to announce at WWDC 2019, according to people familiar with the plans. They asked not to be identified discussing unreleased product details. Apple’s plans are fluid and could change between now and the event, people familiar with Apple’s development process said.
What’s coming for iOS 13: Codenamed “Yukon,” the refreshed operating system for iPhones and iPads includes tweaks and new features across several apps, including features originally planned for last year. The company is also already working on iOS 14, codenamed “Azul,” for 2020. That release is expected to support 5G wireless network speeds and new AR functionality for next year’s iPhone.
The software, for the second year in a row, will speed up the devices and reduce bugs. There will be user interface tweaks, including a new animation when launching multitasking and closing apps. The widgets that appear to the left of the home screen will have a cleaner look.
A Dark Mode, a black and grey-heavy interface optimised for viewing at night, that can be enabled in Control Center, the panel for quickly accessing settings. The company is testing a new keyboard option that allows users to swipe across letters on the keyboard in one motion to type out words.
A revamped Health app with a new homepage that better outlines your daily activity from the day. There will be a section for “hearing health,” like how loud you play music on your headphones or the loudness of the external environment.
iMessage gets an upgrade with a WhatsApp-like enhancement that lets people set a profile picture and display name, and choose who sees it. For the first time, Apple will allow developers who write iPad apps to re-work their apps so the software can also run on the Mac.