Apple confirms end to iTunes, more independent Apple Watch, new health features

A slew of new health and privacy features, a more independent Apple watch and an end to iTunes were among the highlights of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California.

The announcements showed how Apple is looking beyond the iPhone to other areas of growth in its business such as its services division, augmented reality and personal health care.

There was a lot to digest from the two-and-a-half hour software conference but here's what you need to know about changes coming to your Apple devices.

Privacy

Apple is cracking down heavily on location accuracy and privacy this year. 'Sign in with Apple' will be available across all of its platforms and also on the web, which, according to senior vice president of software engineering Kevin Federighi, gives "fast, easy sign-in without tracking". You get authenticated with your device, and you're logged in with a new account without revealing personal location. Some apps may ask for your email, so Apple will have an option to create a random address that forwards to your real email. Each app gets a unique random address.

Standalone app store for the Apple Watch

With WatchOS 6, Apple Watch users will no longer have to download an app to their iPhone first before it can appear on their wrist. They can purchase and install an app directly on their watch from the new standalone store. Apple has also introduced a voice recorder, which is useful but kind of scary, a calculator, and the ability to do tip calculations.

New features have been announced for the Apple Watch.
New features have been announced for the Apple Watch. Photo credit: Reuters.

Better health tracking

Activity trends are being introduced on the Apple Watch.  People can also track their hearing health with the Noise app but it won't record their audio. For the women, there is now the Cycle Tracking feature with fertile window predictions. These will also be available in the Health App in iOS 13, if people don't have an Apple Watch.

Dark mode

A big trend at the moment is making app and UI backgrounds black. Just as Google announced dark mode for Android X at its recent developers conference, Apple brings it to iOS 13 (macOS already has dark mode).  It helps with battery life on OLED screens, is better for the eyes and, let's face it, looks quite cool.

Better camera features

Video is getting advanced photo editing, with the ability to rotate video plus filters and effects. But the biggest change will come to the way we view photos. It will use machine learning to remove duplicates and create a diary of a user's life.

More Siri time

AirPods share audio with a tap, handoff is being brought to the HomePod and it can recognise who in your family is talking and personalise the response.

Craig Federighi, Apple senior VP of Software Engineering, speaks during Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, U.S. June 3, 2019. REUTERS/Mason Trinca - HP1EF631GJYY8
Photo credit: Reuters.

WhatsApp style messaging and new Memojis

Profile pictures, status updates and a new undo feature to revert changes while typing help Apple's Message App better compete with the likes of third party apps such as WhatsApp. You can also do lots more with Memjojis to personalise them.

Maps

There's a new Google Street View competitor but what it allows you to do is slide down the street instead of clicking the arrows like you do on Google.

Find My

Find My Friends and Find My devices have been combined into a single app for both iOS and macOS.

An iPad that's more like a laptop

Apple has acknowledged that the iPad has evolved massively in the last few years so it's introducing iPad OS, which supplements iOS 13 and makes the iPad satisfy more computing needs.

Multitasking support improves and there's a new feature that lets Mac users use the iPad as a second monitor.  Safari on the iPad will be desktop capable and there's a download manager. The Files App works with USB thumb drives and cameras can download directly to Lightroom.

Multi-user support for Apple TV.

Features for tvOS 13 include a new home screen and multi-user support and Apple says it will be easy to switch between family users. It's also got Xbox One S and PlayStation controller support for Apple TV games.

iTunes is being put to rest while more support is given to Apple TV.
iTunes is being put to rest while more support is given to Apple TV. Photo credit: Reuters.

iTunes is put to rest

The replacement of iTunes will be three separate apps for Music, Podcasts and TV and won't mean your music will have disappeared. It will be in the Music App.  Meanwhile, iPhone synching has moved to Finder.

macOS Catalina also means the Mac gets the iPhone's Screen Time feature, family sharing, some of the Message Apps features and Siri shortcuts.

Unified app strategy

Project Catalyst lets app developers more quickly retune their iPad apps for macOS, using the iOS apps existing codebase as the foundation. This is huge news for developers and pretty cool for Apple fans in general.

Developer previews of the software updates are available now but the rest of us will have to wait until Spring.

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