Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference, WWDC 2022 announced several updates to chips, devices, and all of the operating systems. We explore the more important announcements below and analyze their impact on users and the market.
WWDC 2022: Technology
The Apple M1 chip challenged the chip-making establishment. Its implementation in Apple products created some of the highest-performing low-power devices on the market. M2 steps up that game with the following new features:
- 8-core CPU and up to a 12-core GPU w/ performance improvements (reported at 18% better performance on multi-core than M1)
- Up to 100 GB/s unified memory bandwidth
- Up to 24GB of unified memory
- 16-core Neural Engine w/ performance improvements (reported up to 40% better performance than M1)
- Playback of multiple ProRes 4K/8K video streams
M2 represents Apple’s next-generation entry-level chip. The M1 Pro and M1 Max still outperform the new chip with the expanded M1 architectures.
Notably, the M2 still only drives a single external monitor natively. That means it will run a laptop monitor and an external monitor up to 6K at 60Hz. This limitation only applies to the basic M2 chip. As Apple offers Pro, Max, and Ultra versions of the M2, this limitation will likely go away, just as it did with the M1.
Apple made the MacBook Air thinner and more powerful. I don’t think much more needs to be said. Thinner and more powerful are the only reasons to upgrade from a previous generation MacBook Air.
Some commentators have taken the Continuity Camera to task as an admission that Apple’s cameras built into monitors and laptop displays aren’t good. They aren’t, and neither is anybody else’s. What Continuity Camera potentially creates is the ability for Apple to remove cameras from those devices completely, forcing tighter integration with the ecosystem. Why would they do that? Because if you look at the good cameras on iPhones, they have grown over time to better capture light.
Putting a camera array like that of the iPhone 13 Pro on the front of a laptop would raise calls of abomination. Making those cameras available to the laptop should be seen as a brilliant use of technology to allow devices to do what they do best, and to work together to increase the value of multiple devices.
The underpinnings of this technology already exist in macOS, iPadOS and IOS through features like using iPhone to capture an image for Preview. And because Apple offers deep integration across their devices, people using their iPhone as a camera won’t miss calls because they can be picked up on the Mac or a nearby iPad.
Continuity Camera will prove even color with FaceTime Handoff as it switches from being the target device to be a peripheral during a call.
Spotlight will be able to search photo library images and text in those images. Quick preview will help confirm the sought-after file has been found. For most, search takes the place of curation, and features like this make organizing content in folders, assigning tags, and tracking dates seem medieval.
Passkeys use Face ID and Touch ID account authentication to replace passwords on websites instead of a password. Passkeys replace passwords for account creation and login, which helps reduce the chances of compromised identity information.
Passkeys will live in the iCloud Keychain being end-to-end encrypted, making them available across iCloud devices.
WWDC 2022: Experience
Text Message Recall
From messages sent to the wrong colleague, to late-night drunken texts sent to a former partner, (or current partner who might become a former partner after reading the text), Text Message Recall offers people a 15-minute reprieve for messages better left unsent.
I put WWDC 2022’s Freeform announcement near the top of the experience list because I spend a lot of time in rivals Mural and Miro, and Microsoft’s new enhanced whiteboarding experience now offers a free Windows experience. Freeform pumps markup with steriods creating a shared whiteboard that now includes sticky notes and other features. It remains to be seen if Apple will go after the template business models of companies like Mural and Miro, but it does create a native, free solution that integrates across the Apple ecosystem, making it a financial and productivity competitor to existing solutions.
Whiteboards are ideal for pen-based applications, but I spend more time moving sticky notes around than scribbling. Depending on final features, Freeform may also disrupt composition tools like WeTransfer’s Paper, though Paper and other sketching tools with notebooks may keep Freeform at bay. Apple has shown for instance, with Notes, that it may take a while to implement a winning design, but eventually the company often delivers free apps good enough to challenge incumbents from the developer community.
At WWDC 2022, Apple demonstrated they are starting to play with depth in iOS, which may be a nod to its augmented reality ambitions. The new lock screen, for instance, lifts people or objects above the UI elements, creating a sense of depth on the display. That, combined with less annoying, more easily managed alerts, also points to a synergy between iOS and an augmented reality experience. These are only hints though. As with most Apple UX improvements, they bring value as implemented and only in hindsight will the brilliance of the evolutionary model shine through.
Unlike Shared Albums that simply combine photo streams, Shared Photos are a truly collaborative experience, with all family members having equal permissions on the shared photos. A curator or a color corrector in the family benefits the entire group with their text or image edits. The new feature will also integrate across the OS to make sharing content easy, in some cases automatic by default. AI behind the scene will also monitor shared photos and make suggestions about what to share.
Quick Note will now join iPad and Mac as a feature on phones, albeit from the share menu, rather than as a gesture. Other new features include automatic organization and locking.
Stage Manager is an incremental improvement to macOS, allowing for a more focused approach to work and for most users, a better way to manage open apps than Mission Control. That Stage Manager will run on M1 iPads is a huge upgrade, because it also comes with a new windowing system.
M1 iPads aren’t likely to ever run a full macOS experience, (this comment has been booked marked for a mea culpa when that happens), so the even limited amount of an extended multi-app experience on iPad will be a welcomed one. For some, it may be enough to push the iPad Pro into the first-class productivity replacement category as long as it runs the required apps. Those who write, conduct research, create presentations, and engage in other fundamental business work will likely find Stage Manager adequate. Those who do major graphics, audio, or video work will still find iPad a secondary device behind powerful laptops and desktops designed to take on arduous, multi-monitor, CPU/GPU intensive tasks.
Shared Safari Tab Groups
Experiences like Shared Tab Groups in Safari will improve collaboration by allowing for handoffs between people, not just devices. Rather than relying on a shared screen experience in FaceTime, Teams, Zoom, WebEx or other conferencing calls, people can experience more shared experiences that extend beyond traditional apps like Microsoft Office or Google’s productivity apps.
WWDC 2022: The Business
None of the features above disrupts anything. They are all incremental improvements that enhance experiences. While By-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) isn’t new, Apple’s take on BNPL is positioned to upend the nascent BNPL market by making accessible to every ApplePay-enabled point-of-sale without a need for vendors or retailers to do anything. Imagine instant short-term credit that just comes as a choice, like which card to use. Apple already knows about its Apple credit card consumers and its customer base. Rumors (via Bloomberg) suggest that the short-term credit offer may not be tied to Apple Card. Regardless of the implementation details, Apple has already shaken investors in companies like Affirm and Afterpay. Just another innovative implementation from Apple.
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