Each June, Apple puts on a glitzy stage show attended by thousands of people and watched by millions more around the world. It’s the company’s flagship conference for developers, where it gives a sneak peek at new versions of the software that powers your shiny Apple toys — the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and its laptops and desktops.
But this year, nobody attended in person. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple streamed it exclusively online for the first time in more than 30 years.
Here at the biggest things that were announced.
1) You’ll be able to run iPhone and iPad apps on your Mac.
CEO Tim Cook announced that some of Apple’s laptops and desktops will be powered by the company’s own chips instead of running Intel processors as they have been for the last 15 years.
This means that in the future, Apple will use the same chips that power its iPhones, iPad, and the Apple Watch to power Macs. Some of these devices, like the iPhone and the iPad, are more powerful than Apple’s existing laptops, so its computers will be faster, thinner, lighter, and more energy-efficient.
But it also means Apple’s laptops and desktops will finally be able to run iPhone and iPad apps without developers having to rebuild them from scratch.
Apple will release its first Mac with its own chips by the end of the year and is already working with Microsoft and Adobe to make sure popular Mac apps like Office and Creative Cloud run smoothly.
2) The Apple Watch will track your sleep.
A new version of WatchOS, the software that powers your Apple Watch, is coming in the fall. One big new addition is that it will let your Watch track your sleep — something that popular fitness trackers like the Fitbit already can do.
After installing the update, simply wear your Apple Watch to bed and set it to wake you up either with an alarm or a tap on your wrist. When you wake up, you’ll be able to see how long you slept right on the device or on your iPhone.
3) The Apple Watch will monitor your handwashing.
Since we’re living through a pandemic, the Apple Watch will now detect when you wash your hands, starting a small, bubbly timer to count down the 20 seconds you’re supposed to soap them up to kill germs. If you stop before, it will alert you. When your hands are sufficiently clean, it will reward you with a tiny tap on the wrist.
4) Your smart doorbell will recognize who is at your door.
Do you own a smart doorbell camera that works with Apple’s HomeKit? (Check your user manual if you don’t know.) When iOS 14 is released in the fall, your internet-connected doorbell will be able to zap that feed directly to your Apple TV.
The facial recognition won’t work on everyone. You’ll have to approve certain faces in photos stored on your iPhone to let your smart doorbell recognize who’s at the door and inform you when they show up.
5) Your default browser and email app can be whatever you want them to be.
iOS 14 will finally let you switch out the iPhone and iPad’s default browser (Safari) and the default email app (Mail) for any other browser or email app you want.
Apple didn’t actually announce this in its presentation today, but eagle-eyed reporters spotted the feature in one of the slides in the keynote.
The timing is important. Apple is facing increased scrutiny from antitrust bodies around the world for allegedly monopolistic practices on the App Store. Allowing users to set non-Apple apps as defaults could be useful to take some of the heat off.