WWDC 2018: The Magic of Turning "meh" into "WOW!"

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When technology connects with creativity, incredible ideas come to life. This summer, we invite thousands of talented minds from around the world to join us and turn their ideas into reality.

The quote above was used by Apple to invite people from all over the globe to enjoy the greatness of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The WWDC, as it is commonly referred to, is a week-long event that showcases the company's new operating systems to software developers.

Although the target of this type of event are professionals that deal with coding, the keynote session that opens the WWDC draws attention of the whole world; even people that don't really follow the latest news about technology are excited to know what new features they will be able to have on their iPhones, iPads, Apple TV or Apple Watches.

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Preparing the ground

Every year seems to have a great deal of expectation around the whole event, probably because people are dying to see some groundbreaking technology to be announced. It was a bit different in 2018, though.

In January, Bloomberg affirmed that Apple would focus primarily on "improving the performance of iPhone software" this year and leave the brand new (and most exciting) features to 2019. This rumor made everybody calm down a little bit and enjoy whatever the company could present in the event because, after all, it would just be some "minor" improvements, nothing to be extremely anxious about.

Of course, some features were spotted by developers like Guilherme Rambo (my fellow countryman) and Steve Troughton-Smith, but not confirmed until the event (or two days before). Still, the buzz that would normally appear before the date turned into simply a feeling of hope to see "at least some good news."

But we are talking about Apple here and it so has the ability to turn whatever "meh" feature into "I just need it so bad I am considering installing the beta version of this OS on my main device."

Did anybody doubt it?

Announcing new features, getting everyone excited

June 4th, the day of the event, was here. Even with expectations set down low, people wanted to know what Apple spent its time working on.

On stage, the company presented some features that surprised not for they were unimaginable, but because people actually had been requesting for some time now.

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iOS 12 brought a welcome improvement to speed when launching apps, swiping to see the camera app or even when displaying the keyboard or the share sheet; and it gets better: these changes apply also to older devices such as the iPhone 5s. In a way, I interpreted it as a way of saying "sorry" for all the bugs that affected the iPhones and iPads on iOS 11 (just saying…).

They actually introduced some new stuff like ARKit 2, so we can enjoy augmented reality with multiple people, Animoji with tongues and the new "Memoji", better privacy settings and so on.

Other features, although being great benefits, seemed to had been taking from the users complaints we've been hearing for years, such as grouped notifications (come on, Apple… you take it away, tweak it a little and announce it like a brand new thing?… Yes, I want it, please) and FaceTime call with up to 32 people at once (we've been asking for a group chat for so long that they are compensating by overdoing it… I mean, I don't really have that many friends, do you? Lol).

Screen Time is something great and I will probably use it a lot since I'm a productivity freak. But I can't help but think that the company took advantage of the complaint made by the investors regarding children being addicted to their phones and tablets; so, instead of preparing something different for kids, they've built a comprehensive reporting on mobile usage so this could be an iOS 12 feature and extended it to children. Quite brilliant, actually.

Additionally, in this next version of the system, we will be able to enjoy Siri even when Low Power Mode is activated, something I still don't understand why we couldn't do before, but anyways…

Speaking of Siri, iOS 12 will bring some improvements to the virtual assistant — at least that is what Apple told us. Instead of going through all the trouble of improving the whole structure of their virtual assistant, they've bought the app Workflow and made the automations work with Siri — and let the users do the rest. So, if people want the assistant to do this or that, they can do so by (manually) creating automations with specific commands so the assistant can run it.

"Do you want it? Then do it yourself and be happy." Smart move, Apple.

In regards to Apple's wearable, watchOS 5 will receive updates related to the Activity and Workout app that is going to enhance the quality of their exercise, while motivating users with the competition and coaching features.

Also, a new Walkie Talkie feature was announced and opinions seem to be divided into "it is a better way to communicate rapidly and more comfortable than dictating things to the Watch" and "I just don't want to be disturbed, I hope I can turn it off" — but I'll leave the verdict to people who actually use the device (not me). Plus, the Podcasts app will, at last, be on the Watch.

tvOS 12 will bring Zero sign-on, support to Dolby Atmos, and some nice and new screensavers. Also, the Apple TV remote app will be laying on the Control Center for those who want it.

Even CarPlay got some attention this time: third-party navigation apps, such as Waze and Google Maps, are finally to come to the system.

The system for the Macs also got some pretty neat (not that "huge") features, but it's by far the one update I'm the most excited about. Even if the new things are just tiny details, I believe that's where Apple is so great. Improving Screenshots, editing and viewing options on Finder, organizing desktop automatically and sort them as you prefer (I don't really leave things in my desktop, but I'm just glad for other people), the come back of favicon in Safari tabs (thank you!) will probably help productivity on the daily basis.

The ability to use iPhone's camera is a nice new improvement to Continuity and, of course, it's impossible not to mention the "new" Mac App Store, totally remodeled (f-i-n-a-l-l-y) to have a cleaner, more "iOS-like" style. News, Stocks, Home and Voice Memos, all iOS apps, will now find a place in the Macs, which is interesting, mainly because Apple is, by doing so, preparing the ground to the so-called "Project Marzipan" (iOS apps running on macOS).

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Nice features are coming. However, the whole focus of macOS Mojave (10.14) was Dark Mode — and I'm just cheering up inside while writing it because I want it really bad. A lot of people (including me) were waiting for something like this, so we can rest our eyes and mind while working on the Mac — and I'm just really, really glad that my Mac mini Late 2012 is still in the game and will receive this update.

There were a lot of other features I didn't mention here that follows the same pattern: they're not that big of a deal, but we feel happy to have them.

By the time the 2-hour event was over, instead of people getting mad because it was presented all the "obvious" features that were supposed to be around for some time now, everyone just wanted to put their hands on the new systems.

I don't know what it is, but Apple has a magical way of making all the basic stuff seem like brand new useful and interesting things. Do I care? Not really. Although I feel like I've used too many "finally" to describe the new features, I’m still excited and looking forward to seeing those features in my Apple products, mainly Dark Mode on macOS and Siri Shortcuts on iOS.

I guess I can admit I fell for whatever strategy Apple used here — shame on me.