If Apple were a sports franchise, 2018 would be a rebuilding year. While Apple showed some nice new features for iOS 12 at its annual World Wide Developers Conference at the San Jose Convention Center, much of the emphasis for the mobile operating system is on performance.
When it arrives, iOS 12 will support older devices reaching all the way back to the iPhone 5S, which is a significant factor for organizations with a large installed base of Apple mobile products.
Equally important, Apple plans to make significant improvements to the performance of those older devices with the new version of iOS when it arrives with some functions running 50 percent faster. Apple is “doubling down on performance” for all devices, including those older ones, said Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president, which means that if you still have staff with older devices, you won’t need to replace them immediately.
Apple also announced its new version of the Macintosh operating system, this time called Mojave. It’s not clear whether the change from names invoking mountains to a name invoking a desert is significant, or if the marketing folks at Apple were just tired of mountain names.
The big news for MacOS is that Apple has begun porting some of its iOS apps to the Mac. Those apps include Apple News, Stocks, Home and Voice Memos. Federighi also announced that Microsoft will be bringing Office 365 to the Mac later in 2018.
Bigger news is that Apple will enable third-party developers to port iOS apps to the Mac available later in 2018. This could mean that the mobile apps you’ve developed for your organization will work on the desktop too, although the details of how this would work haven’t been announced.
But just in case this new ability to move iOS apps to the Mac might indicate a merging of iOS and MacOS, Federigni resoundingly said no. In fact his statement was repeated in giant letters on the screen behind him. He did admit, however, that MacOS and iOS do share a similar code base, which makes the porting relatively easy.
There are other improvements that will matter to enterprises along with others that won’t. For example, the wealth of new emojis will probably creep into business communications, no matter how hard you try to prevent it. With those new emojis comes a new set of capabilities for iMessage, most notably the ability to convert a group chat into a croup FaceTime call.
Apple follows the lead of other group-calling apps by making the video image of whoever is talking the largest one in the app. You can have up to 32 simultaneous participants in the new FaceTime group call when it comes available. This could be handy for staff meetings since no special equipment is required beyond an Apple device that can run FaceTime and iOS 12.
The company’s commitment to privacy and security continues. “One of the reasons people choose Apple products is our commitment to security," said Federighi. "We believe your private data should remain private. There can be a lot of sensitive data, and you should have control over it.”
In a change that’s important to Apple device users well as to marketing professionals who harvest user data from mobile devices, Apple is doing its best to keep web browsing as anonymous as possible. The Safari browser will no longer allow cookie tracking, requiring sites and apps for that matter to ask permission before any tracking is allowed.
In fact device fingerprinting will be ruled out as a tracking technique. Apple says that it will provide only basic, generic, configuration info to websites so that all Apple devices will look the same. “Fingerprinting” is a method of extracting detailed configuration information using the browser.
Originally, fingerprinting was used to provide basic configuration information to a website so that the page would display correctly. Now, because the configuration of an individual machine is unique, it’s being used for tracking without asking permission, and in many cases without responding to “Do not Track” settings on a browser.
The new Safari track prevention capabilities will extend to websites, including Facebook, where you’re asked to press a “Like” button or make a comment. By doing this, Facebook will need to ask your permission before it can track you. This means that perhaps one day, in some far distant future, ads for products you’ve already purchased will stop following you around the internet.
Probably the most important announcement during the WWDC presentation is the least sexy. Instead of creating a fleet of new, and perhaps less than totally useful features, Apple is working to make iOS and MacOS more stable. This is significant for iOS 11 because it was, to put it politely, buggy. It was so unstable that iOS updates seemed to emerge every few days, fixing one critical problem after another.
While Apple’s commitment to fixing what’s broken is commendable, the fact is that it shouldn’t happen as often as it did with iOS 11 with Apple’s new focus on performance.
MacOS didn’t have the stability problems of iOS, but even there Apple had relatively few announcements, focusing instead on quality. Perhaps it’s time other OS vendors bought into the quality concept.