What Happened at WWDC 2020
I can only assume those of you who follow me fall into one of two categories: you either, like myself, sit on the metaphorical threshold of the Steve Jobs theater and salivate over the thought of Apple confirming the plethora of leaks you've been hearing about on Twitter for the past six months, or you don't even know what the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) is, and you really wish I would stop texting you about it.
So rather than annoy my friends with incessant multi-paragraph updates, I figured I would just write this up and point everyone in one direction.
WWDC is a special presentation Apple does every year for their developers (ie: anyone who makes apps for the Mac, iPhone, or iPad) where in which they usually reveal lots of cool things like the newest version of iOS, MacOS, and iPadOS. It contains lots of important information for those who make all the apps you crowd your iPhone with, and nerd-poser-super-fans like myself tend to also pop a bowl of pop corn and see what's what even though it has almost no bearing on our work or lives in general.
This year, Apple's three biggest announcements came in the form of iOS 14, MacOS Big Sur (yes, it's really called that), and the transition of the Mac to Apple's own processors. These announcements (especially the last) are a big deal.
To start: iOS 14. To quote a friend of mine: "iOS 14: Android. Reimagined." That's right, this year's new iOS boasts a series of features that Android has had for years, and they are extremely welcome. The most notable additions are the changes to the homescreen: widgets and a new app drawer.
Widgets aren't new to iPhone, but now you can move them from the dedicated widget screen on the far left to your other homepages, as well as adjust their sizes and content. This should be especially helpful for apps like Weather, or anything else that offers information you might need at-a-glance.
The new app drawer is an interesting new homepage that sits at the far right, and is a place that all your apps are curated automatically. It also allows you to "hide" pages from view entirely. This is probably the thing I look forward to the most about iOS 14, because it allows you to remove those apps you only ever use once in a while from your overly cluttered iPhone screen without actually deleting them from your phone.
Second only to my love of the upcoming app drawer is my love for picture in picture video, however.
Picture in picture video is already on iPad, and it's something I've come to cherish. Picture in picture allows you to minimize a playing video and have it continue in a tiny screen while you do other things on your device. It's nice, because it lets you keep obsessing over Avatar: The Last Airbender while also giving your loved ones the "time they deserve" by sending them text-by-text updates of your Avatar re-watch.
In a similar vein, iPadOS is getting pretty much all the same updates as its older sibling, including the fan-favorite culling of the full-screen incoming call card. Gone are the days of reading on my Kindle app only to have some robo-caller completely derail my train of thought.
The only iPadOS-exclusive update I caught was an update to the Files app, that makes it appear to operate more like a traditional file explorer, which is also welcome.
MacOS is seeing some extreme changes as well. Firstly, it's getting a whole new look (a look very much like iOS...hmmm), and a few more features. As for the re-skin, I'm not that impressed or bothered by it. Some icons are getting changed for the first time since MacOS X, which I'm sure will bother the more nostalgic people out there, and the whole look is a bit more cartoon-y like iOS, which I'm sure will bother those out there with something to prove to their computer.
In addition to the re-skin, MacOS is getting a few new features like Control Center and a re-haul of the Notification Center.
Apple's biggest announcement was, however, their decision to finally switch to in-house processors for their Macs. We've been hearing rumors about this for ages, so it was nice to see it finally announced.
Apple has made processors since the release of the original iPhone in 2007. Since then they've also started making processors for their entire iPad line, and they've gotten pretty good at it.
Overall, I think we will see a definite performance increase in Macs over the next three years (the timeline Apple has set for the transition to the new processors), but more important is the future Apple seems to be preparing for.
See, along with this new processor line comes something pretty interesting: native iOS app support for the Mac. That's right, in time any Mac with an in-house processor will support iPad and iPhone apps straight out the box. What will playing Pokémon Go look like on the Mac? I don't know, but that isn't important. What is important is all the facts of WWDC 2020 coming together.
With the advent of MacOS Big Sur and the additions of iPadOS 14, we're seeing MacOS slowly get more and more in common with iPad OS, including native support for cross-platform publishing, thanks to Macs now utilizing a chip more similar to those seen in Apple's mobile devices.
What does this mean? If I had to guess, I'd say MacOS and iOS are slowly being melded together, and in the near future (perhaps 2023, the end of Apple's processor timeline) we will see an announcement for something along the lines of "AppleOS," a single operating system for all of Apple's devices.
It would explain what Apple's been doing with the iPad Pro for the past two or so years, too. I'm typing this up on the 2020 Pro with the Magic Keyboard, and it certainly feels a lot like using a laptop. I mean, the iPad even has native mouse-and-keyboard support now. The only thing it's really missing for me is a fully-fledged file system, which it looks like iPadOS 14 is going to deliver.
All in all, a pretty big year for WWDC. Apple really feels like it's starting to hit its stride again, and I'm all for the changes they seem to be implementing in the near future and all the plans they seem to be preparing for in the far future.