Looking back on another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes all the news from WWDC, more continuity for the iPhone, iOS 16 personalization, the impact of macOS changes, new M2 Apple Silicon, updates to MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, a small movement around gaming, the power of a new font and disturbing news from Europe.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of some of the many discussions surrounding Apple over the past seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
The direction of travel
This week was WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference. While the headlines were gripped by the hardware releases, the real value lies in showing what makes Apple exciting enough to build into its hardware. 2022 is the year to speed things up a bit, with more Apple-approved options for changing your own device’s UI. Thomas Claburn sums it up:
“Apple’s software-oriented improvements consist mainly of worthy but not particularly exciting improvements to the interface and workflow, in addition to a handful of useful APIs and personalization options. Corporate video artists made no mention of Apple’s expected AR/VR headset.”
A webcam with its own notch
However, sometimes you need a very simple demonstration, and WWDC had it. Last year it moved a mouse between a Mac screen and an iPad screen. This year it uses your iPhone as a webcam for your Mac:
“Apple announced what it calls Continuity Camera, which allows iPhone and macOS users to use an iPhone camera as a webcam. This concept is not new as there have been third-party apps that have been offering this idea for years, but almost all of them were clunky and unreliable. Only real tests will tell what quality Apply will be able to achieve with this type of wireless video transmission, but from the demonstration given at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), it looks promising.
Making iOS 16 your own
Apple leaned heavily on personalization in iOS 16, but the main focus was on the lock screen — unsurprising given the strong rumors of an always-on screen being prepared for the iPhone 14 Pro. From choosing fonts, selecting information and positioning widgets, a lot happens:
The company showed off a new lock screen for the iPhone that allows users to customize much more than just the wallpaper, from the font used for the clock to the placement and location of widgets on the lock screen itself. (We’ll take a short break now. while the Android users in the audience point out that they’ve had this for years.)”
“Always-on is not a magic wand that increases productivity. This is Apple we’re talking about and while its reputation for simplicity is strong, that hasn’t been the case lately. Will the same error happen with the new lock screen?
“Apple could easily try to reinvent the wheel and overcomplicate the iPhone 14s [always on display]… There are times when you have to admit that your competitor has the right idea and, for the sake of your users, you just have to adopt the thing in question. I hope my unease is unfounded, as an always-on display is one of my favorite Android features. I really miss using my iPhone 13 Pro Max.”
What has macOS left behind?
Every software update has casualties, and Apple’s more than most. The OS teams have been notoriously quick to discontinue support for both older software and older machines. It does mean there are fewer configurations to support — one of the reasons the move to Apple Silicon has been relatively smooth is the work that’s been done before to keep third-party developers up to date.3 macOS is lagging behind. With the launch of macOS Ventura, the ax has been cut much deeper than most, with hardware only losing support in 2017. Presumably, this is the price of progress regarding Apple Silicon:
Mac Hardware Cases: 2015-2016 MacBook Pro; 2015-2017 MacBook Air; 2016 12″ MacBook; 2014 Mac mini; 2013 Mac Pro; 2015 iMac.”
The difficult second M-chip
At the heart of the updates are Apple’s own chips – the A16 for its mobile devices and the M2 for its desktop computers. The easy number to take from WWDC is the 18 percent increase in power from the M2, but the new Apple SIlicon design is much more than a single number can represent:
“From a high level, there have been a limited number of changes with the M2 — or at least as many as Apple wants to disclose at this point — focusing on a few critical areas, as opposed to the bonanza that was the first M1 While all this is tentative, in anticipation of further revelations from Apple or getting hands-on time with the hardware itself, the M2 looks a lot like a derivative of the A15 SoC, similar to how the M1 is derived from the A14. the result is that at first glance the upgrade from M1 to M2 is quite similar to the upgrade from A14 to A15.”
The new MacBooks
A new chip is good, but new hardware is even better. After a false start in March, Apple has launched a new version of the MacBook Air with the M2 chipset and many (but not all) design features of the top-end 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops:
“The screen is now 13.6″ larger and closer to the edge of the lid because the 1080p camera is hidden in a notch. On this smaller device, the notch appears slightly larger than the one on the MacBook Pro, but more than time Port-wise it’s not much, but the standout addition is MagSafe charging, which leaves both Thunderbolt ports available while charging.The audio jack supports high-impedance headphones, which is nice.The full-size Touch ID button is also a nice addition because it will be a lot harder to miss when you try to turn on the computer.”
You will recall that at the end of 2020, Apple launched a consumer-oriented M1 MacBook Pro at the same time as the M1 Air2. The “curiously ported” Mac is also back with an M2 version, but here’s little more than a chip upgrade… the same MacBook design from 2016 can still be seen:
“The new 13-inch MacBook Pro is essentially a processor bump, with design and other hardware features identical to the previous model… With a faster 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU, working with RAW images in apps like Affinity Photo is nearly 40 percent faster than the previous generation, according to Apple, and up to 3.4x faster for users upgrading from a model without Apple silicon.”
Where No Man’s Sky Has Been Before…
If there’s one thing Apple still struggles with, it’s gaming at its highest level. While there are tons of great game titles in the App Stores, breaking through to get the big names has never felt like a priority. With support for Nintendo’s Switch Joy Con controllers built into the operating system (added to support for the Sony Dualshock and Xbox Wireless Controller), there are more opportunities for notable developers to code for the platform… a potential that’s being supported due to the announcement of No Man’s Sky coming to macOS later this year:
The arrival of No Man’s Sky to the iPad would be a huge deal, worth mentioning even in passing during the keynote, but instead it’s a bit of information relegated to an online press release. that Metal 3 will be limited to Apple Silicon devices only, so I’m guessing you’ll need an M1-equipped iPad if you want to play No Man’s Sky when it comes out.
Either way, it’s going to be a long time coming, as there’s been rumors of a No Man’s Sky mobile port for literally half a decade now, so it’s exciting to see one finally coming, even if Apple does. worthy of mention at their big keynote today.”
(MacRumors and Touch Arcade)
Extensive! In bold! italics!
Not to be outdone, we saved WWDC’s biggest change until the very end. An opportunity that will strike every Apple user, be it macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS or any of the other applications… yes, Tim Cook and his teams have updated Apple’s San Francisco font!
“Discover the latest additions to San Francisco — the system font for Apple platforms — and see how they can provide greater control and versatility in interface design. In addition to weights and optical formats, San Francisco now supports three new width styles: Condensed, Compressed, and Extended We’ll also take you through San Francisco’s linguistic expansion and learn more about the versatile Arabic system font families: SF Arabic and SF Arabic Rounded.”
(Apple via Daring Fireball).
European regulators have taken a crucial step towards making USB-C charging a universal requirement for every device in the EU…which will affect the lightning port-equipped iPhone, assuming the regulation is formally approved.
“The European Union (EU) has reached an agreement that will ensure that USB-C charging is no longer just a convenience, but a requirement for iPhones and all other mobile phones by the fall of 2024. including digital cameras, tablets and, at a later date, laptops.”
Apple Loop brings you seven days of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any news in the future. You can read last week’s Apple Loop here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.