Apple Event: Software Releases

Apple’s event is Tuesday, September 10. In addition to all the new hardware products Apple is expected to release, there’s a slew of new software coming as well.

iOS 13

iOS 13 isn’t a full redesign, and doesn’t have many new groundbreaking features you need to know about. It’s mainly dark mode mixed with security and speed improvements. Dark mode takes every one of the iOS system apps including Messages, Settings, Photos, and Contacts and changes the background to black and the text to white. Plus, developers have the option to honor dark mode in their own apps when active on the phone. This mode is easily the most hyped and anticipated feature of iOS 13, which might tell you something as to the content of this release.

Something many iOS users have been frustrated with is the outdated GUI for the volume and ringer. In every iOS version until 13, every time you would adjust your volume with the side buttons or toggle your ringer, a volume meter would cover your entire screen for a solid few seconds. Now, Apple has taken their volume slider from the control center and put it to the left of the screen when you change your volume. It’s now incredibly less intrusive, and allows your to control the volume with the touch screen as well after you’ve activated the on-screen volume slider instead of having to navigate to the control center. Also, when you put your phone on or take it off silent, an small indicator displays right at the top of your screen.

The last portion of upgrades in the 13th edition of iOS is faster app launches, Face ID, and other various improvements in efficiency. Plus, you can now scrub using the scroll bar to quickly scroll websites and apps. The photo and reminders apps also see improvements.

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, XS Max and XR, as well as the new iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and Pro Max, and the iPod Touch seventh generation are all compatible with this latest release of iOS.

iPadOS 13

The real changes in iOS come in the form of iPadOS 13. Apple has finally branched off their iPad operating system to accommodate the powerful iPads they’ve been releasing lately which until now had to deal with the very underpowered for it’s capabilities iOS.

In iPadOS 13, the app icons are smaller, you can now have multiple apps in slide-over, the same app in multiple instances, and you can also pin the Today View widgets on the home screen. Copy, paste, and undo also receive new finger gesture shortcuts. Plus, you can now use your iPad as a secondary display as long as the Mac is running Catalina thanks to Apple’s acquisition of a 3rd party company which was doing something similar.

The iPad Pro 12.9 first and second generation, iPad Pro 10.5in, iPad Pro 9.7in, iPad Pro 11in, iPad Air 2 and 3, iPad fifth and sixth generation, and iPad Mini 4 will all support this latest release of iPadOS.

WatchOS 6

Finally in WatchOS 6, Apple Watch gets a dedicated App Store. No longer will you have to use your phone to download apps to your watch. This is just another step in the direction of Watches being independent from their companion iPhones, which started when Apple decided to manufacture cellular Watch options available for Series 3 and later. Some iPhone apps have also been ported to Apple Watch like Audiobooks, Calculator, and Voice Memos. The Calculator app has built-in tools for calculating tips and splitting checks. New watch faces include Modular Compact, Solar Dial, California, Gradient, Numerals Mono, and Numerals Duo. Plus, new complication options have been added to the watch face. A new noise app for Series 4 and later designed to tell you weather or not sound around you can damage your hearing. Cycle tracking has been added to the fitness tracking capabilities. Continuing the theme of fitness tracking improvements, a new Trends tab has been added to the Activity app on iPhone which lets you know if your active calories, exercise minutes, walking pace, and others are trending up or down and even includes free coaching.

WatchOS 6 will be compatible with every Apple Watch to date except the original Watch.

tvOS 13

When you install tvOS 13 on your Apple TV, the first thing you’ll notice is the redesigned home screen. The top menu bar and Watch Now screen are gone, replaced with icons including Apple TV, the App Store, iTunes movies, iTunes TV shows, and Apple Music. Apps can now play full-screen video previews from the home screen, similar to Netflix, and Picture-in-Picture (PIP) is now supported to allow you to browse the tvOS interface while consuming visual content. Plus, when you’re watching videos, playing games, or listening to music on your TV, you can do so on your own account, since tvOS 13 now supports multiple users/accounts. tvOS will now support Xbox One and PS4 controllers, advancing the Apple TV as a gaming platform— and also presumably preparing for the release of Apple Arcade.

macOS Catalina

The biggest misconception and fear of macOS Catalina is so-called absence of iTunes. While Apple is technically removing the app, what they’re really doing is breaking it down into 4 new, separate apps: Apple Music. Podcasts, Books, and TV. Not only is it now easier to find the right app and menu to get what you want, instead of having to locate all 4 functions in iTunes, but the iTunes program itself was a junkyard of old, slow code. Another new feature of this new release of macOS is Apple’s Project Catalyst. Project Catalyst is a streamlined way for iOS app developers to port their app to Mac. As mentioned in the iPadOS 13 section, Catalina also includes support for Sidecar, which lets your iPad running the latest software release to act as a second display. Screen Time from iOS has made it’s way to macOS, which includes the same screen tracking features as the mobile version.

The 12-inch MacBook 2015 and later, MacBook Air 2012 and later, MacBook Pro 2012 and later, Mac mini 2012 and later, iMac 2012 and later, iMac Pro 2017, and Mac Pro 2013 and later will all support macOS Catalina.

Apple’s Special Event

The hardware and devices is usually the most hyped, but it’s the software that lets the beautiful slabs of glass and metal run. What we know about the new Apple software releases is just about set in stone because we’ve had beta editions out for months. The real test will be weather or not all the hardware rumors are true.

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Jake Russo
Apple tech enthusiast

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