There's scope to ‘think different’ when it comes to custom chips and nailing machines that do general computing near-perfectly without any need for gimmicks or superfluous bells and whistles.
Apple fixed and re-released emergency security updates addressing a WebKit zero-day vulnerability exploited in attacks. The initial patches had to be withdrawn on Monday due to browsing issues on certain websites.
The zero-day flaw (CVE-2023-37450) patched today impacts the WebKit browser engine, and it allows attackers to gain arbitrary code execution by tricking targets into opening maliciously crafted web pages.
The upcoming macOS 13.5 update resolves a syncing issue with the third-generation and fourth-generation iPod shuffle, according to Apple’s developer release notes. The update is currently in beta testing and will likely be released later this month.
The Cupertino-based company has added support for bilingual queries to Siri starting with select Indic languages. This means users will be able to ask queries to Siri by mixing English and Hindi. Additionally, users can mix English with Telegu, Punjabi, Kannada, or Marathi.
Apple is also bringing a full-page screenshot feature to iOS 17 — something that Android phones have been offering through “Scrolling screenshots” for years now. Users can save this as an image or a PDF file.
Among the specific improvements touted by Apple during its WWDC keynote is that a certain expletive will no longer be corrected to “ducking” and in my experience, that’s true. Autocorrect also better understands sentences, and can correct words to fit an appropriate context (think “we’ll” vs “will”). But one of the best improvements in this year’s updates is an improved autocorrect interface: corrected words are now underlined briefly, letting you tap or control-click on them in order to revert to whatever you originally typed.
Apple’s also really talked up its improvements to predictive text this year. They now appear inline as you type, showing up as grayed-out letters or words after the cursor. You can hit the spacebar to accept the predictions, and in some cases it’ll even suggest multiple words to finish the sentence. It’s wild, and a little surreal, and while I find it very useful on iOS, retraining myself on the Mac—where I type much faster than with iOS’s onscreen keyboard—has proved to be a more difficult task (and ultimately perhaps less useful).
Widgets’ new interactivity is fantastic, but simply having widgets on the Mac’s desktop is the biggest deal of all. There are lots of apps I open throughout the day just to see one piece of information. Sometimes that’s the checking status of a package in Parcel. Other times it’s checking the time in Rome, using Dato, or the air quality in Paku. There are still reasons to open those apps, but desktop widgets make them far more useful when I’m in the middle of something else. Judging from the early betas we’ve already seen, readers can expect a lot of interesting and innovative new widgets from third-party developers this fall.
Personally, I find the benefit of widgets on iPhone largely to be that you glance at them while you’re grocery shopping or waiting for the bus or whatever and don’t have time to open the actual app. The use case for having them on a computer desktop is not as clear to me — I don’t have the occasion to quickly glance at my computer’s blank desktop while doing something else nearly as commonly. I suspect that the primary impact of having widgets on the desktop is that it makes your Mac look a lot more like your iPhone. I have hope that third-party developers might figure out fun and exciting use cases for desktop widgets by the time Sonoma is fully released (but honestly, you never really know with that).
For the longest time, Apple has supported iCloud Keychain for both Safari and Chrome users. The only catch is that Chrome users needed to use Windows. iCloud Keychain was a Safari-only party on the Mac.
That’s about to change with macOS Sonoma. The new version of macOS will be the first to expand iCloud Keychain support beyond Safari.
Even in early development, I’ve managed to use it on my main Mac without any serious compatibility issues or major bugs. This means that if you’re desperate for change in macOS, you will be disappointed—but at this point I suspect that most Mac users just want incremental improvements without disruptive changes. Slow and steady wins the race.
Apple’s approach to widgets in general is fascinating and important. The basic paradigm of phones has been the same since the advent of the App Store: your phone is a collection of apps, and you spend your life inside those apps. But over the last few years, Apple has been trying to find ways to surface some of the information behind those app icons so you can find it and interact with it more easily.
iOS 17’s Live Voicemail feature takes an old idea—call screening—and makes it new again. Because rather than listening to someone leave a message, you can instead read it in real time as it scrolls across your lock screen, letting you decide right then and there whether you want to pick up. The transcription, while not perfect, is on par with the rest of Apple’s speech-to-text features, and though it might not get everything just right, it’s generally close enough to help you get the gist of the message.
Live Voicemail has prompted me to turn on Silence Unknown Callers at last, and I have frankly never been happier with my phone experience. Most of the time Live Voicemail doesn’t even come up for me, because most spam calls give up when they don’t get a live person—plus Apple’s already filtering for known spam or telemarketer numbers identified by your carrier; they don’t even ring through. As a result, my phone almost never rings unless it’s a call I’m expecting, and honestly, that’s kind of an ideal situation.
The first version of Stage Manager struck me as a bad solution to a nonexistent problem, a better and simpler way to navigate your iPad that was actually neither better nor simpler. With iPadOS 17, I actually think I see the possibilities here. Particularly for power users, Stage Manager is indeed a faster way to flip between your most-used apps, and if you’re on an external display, it’s leaps and bounds better than any option you’ve had before. Just by giving users more freedom to move and resize windows, Stage Manager feels vastly more useful.
I always suspected that Apple’s reluctance to let iPad users manage their own windows was the knowledge that the biggest failure of a layered windowing interface is that users can “lose” windows behind other windows. In iPadOS 17, Apple has solved this problem in a clever way. If you’ve got a window that will be obscured by another one, the window will move so that its edge is sticking out just behind the obscuring window. If you tap that window to bring it forward, it returns to its previous location. It’s an inspired accommodation that means it’s unlikely that you’ll ever lose a window in Stage Manager, while allowing users to put their windows where they want them. Very smart.
All I have to do is swipe up, and then voilà — I’ve summoned a list of widgets featuring my most commonly used apps. They’re there regardless of which watchface I choose, which gives me more options in how I customize the Apple Watch to best fit my needs. Say I want a distraction-free watchface for my Work Focus, but I don’t want to sacrifice the ability to quickly see how far I am on my Activity Rings. With widgets, I don’t have to sit down, scratch my head, and do multidimensional calculus to figure out which minimalistic watchface will afford me that.
The widgets themselves can smoosh in quite a bit of information that a teeny complication often can’t. For instance, I could use the new Palette watchface and still swipe up to see the temperature for the next five hours. If I need to see more, I can tap that widget, and it brings up a redesigned Weather app that displays the information much more prominently.
More to the point, by adding the ability to move your complications to the widget stack, it frees you up from feeling like you have to have them on the watch face, which means if you—like me—have ever wanted to use one of faces that offers only a few or no complication slots, you can now do it secure in the knowledge that your complications are just a spin of the Digital Crown away.
This is not the first time we’ve seen reassignments of hardware buttons on the Apple Watch, but it is the first time in a number of years. Spinning the Digital Crown hasn’t had a significant role on the main watch face since Time Travel was dropped, and the side button’s last reassignment was to switch from the Friends interface to the Apple Watch Dock. Both of those changes occurred in watchOS 3.
The tenth version of watchOS is as good a time as ever to rethink these hardware interactions once again. I’ve never found the Apple Watch Dock to be particularly useful, and making the Digital Crown do nothing except trigger a few fun yet frivolous watch face animations was always a bit of a waste. I’m not sure that the new interactions are perfect, but at least it’s good to see Apple experimenting with the Apple Watch again.
But the more you explore the Apple TV’s latest software release, the clearer it becomes that this is one of the more significant updates Apple’s streaming box has received in many years. It introduces FaceTime on the big screen. Control Center is so much better than before. And there are several new features that demonstrate the unmatched cohesion of Apple’s ecosystem across platforms.
This year's OS updates from Apple seems, to me, rather good. No controversial redesigns. Okay, the deprecation alerts are not good, but I am expecting changes before this fall. (Contact developers? Since when are we customers of third-party developers? :-) )
But, no, I am not tempted to install the public betas. I've got real things to do on my devices.
Thanks for reading.