Apple had a lot to show off in its opening WWDC keynote. The big elephant in the room wasn’t even spoken to.
It was a firework of innovations. From iOS 16 to the new iPad operating system to a completely redesigned Macbook Air, the group presented one new product after the next at a breathtaking pace for almost two hours at the opening keynote of its developer fair, the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). And although the innovations were very successful and expectations had already been dampened in advance, many Apple fans are likely to look disappointed at the end of the evening.
This also has to do with the circumstances of this year’s WWDC. After all, Apple had invited guests back to their home country of Cupertino for the first time in more than two years. Although the majority of the trade fair will continue to take place virtually, a selected number of developers and journalists – including those from stern – were able to take a close look at the innovations on site. In this respect, many observers were certain: Apple will have something important to show.
Apple unveils iOS 16 at WWDC
And indeed, the group has definitely delivered. With iOS 16, the probably biggest conversion of the iPhone operating system was presented in a long time. The lock screen, which was previously only used for unlocking, has been massively upgraded. Instead of only being able to display the time, widgets can now be freely placed there, which display new information live and can even be interactive. In addition, Apple allows you to customize the lock screen to your own taste to an unprecedented extent. A highly unusual move for the group. Almost incidentally, the notifications on the lock screen have also been revised. The news app should finally keep up with Whatsapp and Co. with editable and deletable messages.
With the iPad, the conversion is even greater. The boundaries to Apple’s Mac computers continue to blur, for the first time Apple allows, for example, to display several windows overlapping on the iPad. The Stage Manager, which was newly introduced on the Mac and is intended to minimize the chaos caused by too many windows, is also moving in on the iPad. As a result, Apple’s tablet is – specifically – more and more being converted into a computer.
The many small software innovations such as a new type of fitness tracking on the Apple Watch, improved ways of sharing photos and apps with the family or the improved search on all Apple devices almost disappeared. Even Passkeys, an initiative to replace passwords with biometric data such as fingerprints, was completed in a very short time.
Hardware as the star of the WWDC
The star of the day, despite the focus on software, was the hardware. For the first time since its release in 2008, Apple has reimagined the look of its MacBook Air. At that time, the extremely thin notebook had completely changed the design of notebooks on its own and opened up the market for the ultrabooks that are extremely widespread today. The new look is still familiar: with a thinner screen edge including a small camera cut-out (“notch”) and a case that is now the same thickness everywhere, the new Macbook Air follows the design of the Macbook Pro series, just a little thinner Shape.
This is made possible by the new chip inside: As the first notebooks, the new Airs – and the new Macbook Pro, which is identical to the predecessor down to the chip – also have Apple’s newly introduced M2 processor at their heart. But it is not a complete revolution like the M1. It calculates almost 40 percent faster with less power consumption. The earthquake that triggered the M1 is unlikely to happen for the time being. This is mainly due to the fact that Apple still lets the new entry-level chip calculate more slowly than the Pro, Max and Ultra versions of the M1. Only when they also get a successor in the fall will the battered competition start to sweat again.
The revolution comes later
However, the potentially most groundbreaking innovations that had been speculated about before the keynote did not materialize. The Mac Pro – the traditionally most powerful Apple computer – was not brought to the M architecture as many had hoped. After Apple had continued to put the competition under pressure with the slow presentation of the still faster M chips, speculation is once again being made that the Pro’s chip will make a big leap. The keynote even went into this: Almost all computers have now been brought onto the M1 chips, it was said there almost in passing. The threat already made when the M1 Ultra was presented in March was repeated again.
It was all the more surprising that the second possible revolution played no role in the presentation. In the past few weeks, rumors about Apple’s planned AR glasses have continued to gain momentum. Augmented reality functions and the AR kit have always been a fixture at WWDC for the past few years. In recent years, Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly described the technology as the next big step in the industry, which could equal and even surpass the power of change of the smartphone in terms of its effect.
A first model of the glasses, which can also display virtual reality applications, but should also bring the outside world inside the glasses via cameras, was shown to Apple’s top management a few weeks ago, according to information from various media. No wonder, then, that many speculated that Apple AR could play a particularly important role in the keynote. Even if a concrete idea of the glasses was considered unlikely.
instead there was – silence. The word AR was not mentioned once. The silence speaks volumes. The revolution – it will probably come another time.