Apple Worldwide Developers Conference

Greater privacy, easier access, power machines

Dark Mode provides a system-wide dark colour scheme
Dark Mode provides a system-wide dark colour scheme
Sidecar feature essentially lets you use your iPad as an extended screen for your Mac
Sidecar feature essentially lets you use your iPad as an extended screen for your Mac
The iPadOS' major difference from the iOS 13 is its new Home Screen.
The iPadOS' major difference from the iOS 13 is its new Home Screen.

The tech giant recently unveiled its upcoming software, which included anticipated updates as well as plenty of surprises

Apple previewed its upcoming software during its annual developer conference last week.

There were the anticipated new features of iOS 13 and macOS 10.15 (Catalina) - the next major updates of the operating system for Apple's mobile devices and Macs respectively.

There were also surprises such as the launch of the iPadOS operating system for iPads that will become separate from iOS for iPhones. The iPadOS, though, will continue to share many major attributes with the iOS.

The Straits Times looks at some of the key features of the iOS 13, macOS 10.15 and iPadOS.


iOS 13

DARK MODE

Probably the most asked for feature, the Dark Mode provides a system-wide dark colour scheme that will work across all native apps.

It looks great and allows easier viewing in low-light conditions. In addition, it can be scheduled to switch on automatically. However, Apple did not say whether it will save battery life. Dark Mode can also be integrated into third-party apps.

SIGN IN WITH APPLE

Besides Dark Mode, the other most significant feature announced for iOS 13 is Sign In with Apple.

Think Google Log-in or Facebook Log-in, but with greater privacy by using your Apple ID to sign in. This is because Sign In with Apple does not share information such as birth date, your interests or your friends' details when you log onto an app. Instead, Apple provides only your name and e-mail address. And users can keep their e-mail address private and use a random e-mail address.

Singapore Tourism Board's chief technology officer Quek Choon Yang said he would love to implement Sign In with Apple on the Visit Singapore Travel Guide app. "All I need is to make sure it is the same unique person, as I don't need to know who his friends are," he said.

FILES

Also available on iPadOS, the File app now has the ability to share folders with iCloud Drive and - more importantly - allows access to files from external storage devices such as SD cards when they are plugged into the device.

Great when you need to download a file into your iPhone or iPad from a thumb drive.

FIND MY

Apple has consolidated its various Find my iPhone and Find my Mac features into Find My, a feature that will be available on iOS 13, iPadOS and macOS Catalina.

If it works as advertised, it could be brilliant.

In the past, if your lost or stolen MacBook Pro laptop was not online, there was no way to track it.

But Find My uses the fact that each Apple device emits a constantly changing public key via low-energy Bluetooth signals that nearby Apple devices can encrypt and use to upload the emitting device's geolocation data.

It will require you to have at least two Apple devices, so you can use one to track the other.

Only the device linked to your Apple ID will be able to decrypt the location of your lost device.


macOS 10.15 Catalina

APPLE MUSIC, APPLE PODCASTS AND APPLE TV

You have probably heard it by now - iTunes will be replaced by three all-new apps to improve how Mac users enjoy music, podcasts and movies.

Apple Music will work like the old iTunes, in which you have access to your music library, regardless of whether you bought the music or ripped it from CDs. It allows easy access to the Apple Music streaming library if you are a subscriber. If you want to buy songs, you still have access to the iTunes Music Store.

Apple Podcasts work in the same way, in which you will have your subscribed podcasts available as well as others in their various categories. You can even search for podcasts by their content as Apple transcribes the podcasts for easy searching.

Apple TV app's interface will come with featured Apple TV channels, personalised recommendations as well as iTunes movies and TV shows for users to browse, buy or rent.

Its Watch Now section will have a function called Up Next, which shows what you are currently watching so you can resume watching your shows easily. Apple TV+, Apple's own video subscription service, will be available here.

Also, if you sync your iPhone with your Mac, it will pop up on the Finder when it is plugged in and you can back up the iPhone from there.

SIDECAR

This feature should be called "side screen" instead, as the Sidecar feature essentially lets you use your iPad as an extended screen for your Mac.

For users on the go, it provides a second screen for them to spread their work across two displays.

But it does more than that, as you can use iPad's Apple Pencil to mark up documents, draw on the Adobe Illustrator app or edit videos using Final Cut Pro X on the iPad screen. It works with both a wired connection and wirelessly.

For now, the Apple iPad Pros are supported, but there is no word yet on other iPads.


iPadOS

NEW HOME SCREEN

The iPadOS' major difference from the iOS 13 is its new Home Screen. The Today View on iOS can now be added to the home screen so all the widgets can be shown at a glance. Thus, you can have your latest Straits Times news, weather information and upcoming calendar event right on the home screen.

But it still does not have the customisability of the home screen of the Android platform.

DESKTOP-CLASS SAFARI

The iPadOS will automatically show the desktop version of a website, instead of the mobile version. So you can use Web apps such as Google Docs and WordPress like you do on a desktop browser. No more having to download individual apps for them to work.

The iPadOS Safari will have a download manager, so you know the files you have downloaded. The iPadOS also supports ZIP files, so you can extract them after downloading them on the iPad.

SPLIT VIEW AND SLIDE OVER

With the new iPadOS, you can now work with multiple documents from the same app. For instance, you can compose an e-mail reply while viewing another e-mail, side by side. You can add another window from another app, such as Notes, so you can refer to it when replying to the e-mail.

The new Slide Over feature provides a quick view and switches across multiple apps with a swipe on the side of the iPad's display.

FLOATING KEYBOARD

Pinch on a keyboard and you will get a floating keyboard you can drag to anywhere on the screen. Drag it to one side and you can type with one hand when you are holding the iPad with both hands.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2019, with the headline 'Greater privacy, easier access, power machines'. Print Edition | Subscribe