Last week held the annual Apple keynote for its developer conference where the company highlighted its latest innovations – sadly, word count in Apple Notes was a no-show. But there were several other fresh features presented. While some fell in the “finally” category (Undo Send in Mail), others were typical Apple magic (iPhone as webcam). Overall, two new items have stuck in my mind most: Lock Screen Customization (iPhone) and Stage Manger (Mac). I have thoughts. And coffee. Here we go. Oh, and this ended up long, so it’s in three separate posts. Also note: my past WWDC posts are currently featured in the blog’s sidebar.
Of all the Apple showcases each year, like the iPhone event every September, I think WWDC is the best because it covers all the software that drives all Apple’s devices. As the saying goes, “Software sells hardware,” it’s WWDC that fuels the gadgets we already have as well as forthcoming ones. From the apps to the operating systems that house those apps, this week Apple revealed many of its progressive computing visions.
Though some may have thought Apple would give a glimpse of its futuristic AR/VR glasses and I simply hoped for “word count,” the company did neither. These remarkable innovations must wait, I guess. Besides, I questioned the notion that there is eager demand for an augmented reality device when, in reality, I typically hear people simply long for more pedestrian things like modernizing the email app with Undo Send or Scheduled Send. And, in fact, Apple delivered such Mail features many have clamored for. Bravo!
One of the most impressive tech demos was when Apple stuck a big iPhone on the back of a little MacBook, making a wireless webcam out of a phone – now that’s magic indeed. Seriously, I was wide-eyed. It seemed to work so easily. But in all honesty, it’s probably a function I’ll never use; the webcam in my MacBook is “good enough” I think, and I rarely use it.
Truth be told, where the WWDC22 keynote made me actually cheer out loud was…not the coming AR/VR revolution, not a self-driving Apple car…it was the Weather app on Mac and iPad. Yes! After all these years, we finally have the iPhone’s Weather app on Apple’s other devices. It’s the little things, right? Now we can hope for the Calculator app to appear on iPad at WWDC23. Fingers crossed.
Alright, to the big things.
The iPhone Lock Screen will be, for the first time, customizable. Yes, on the face of it (literally), this is an aesthetic improvement. Instead of the bland clock on an image that’s been present since the beginning, you will now be able to change the look of the clock’s font and colors, which correspond to more background image options. With those, you can also use new “widgets,” which are actually just Apple Watch Complications, now appearing neatly on the iPhone’s
watch face Lock Screen. What’s more, notifications get pushed to the bottom area in a carousel-like layout, and “live” or “interactive” widgets also get placed above that. Topping all that, you can have multiple lock screen layouts for different Focus modes. Much more capability…and maybe complexity.
There’s a lot going on with the new Lock Screen. What’s most interesting to me is how it may coincide with the possibility that, like the Apple Watch, the iPhone may soon enable an “always-on display.” Combine that with a beautiful, personalized, and more functional-than-ever lock screen with at-a-glance info, and…I’m going to want to upgrade my five-year old iPhone 8 Plus very soon!
Hopefully the new lock screen feataures will solve one problem many face: you unlock the phone to do something particular but quickly get sidetracked by one or more other things. With a home screen full of widgets, app icons, or notification dots, it’s common to find yourself checking things only to forget the one task you actually unlocked your phone to do. With iPhone’s lock screen displaying your most important or relevant info at a glance, there may be less need to dive into the phone, thus avoiding items that can wait. Whether or not a widget-filled lock screen saves time and effort is something I look forward to finding out firsthand.
The customizable lock screen is a big deal. Maybe even bigger than that is Stage Manager. Check back soon for part two about that.
What do you think of customizing the lock screen? Are you more interested in the images and fonts to choose from, or do you prefer the info-at-a-glance widgets?