So, WWDC brought along loads of announcements from Apple about different devices I use. And here’s my 2 cents for the iPad and the Mac.
So, iPadOS 14 finally brings the option to choose default mail and browsing apps. You know even a trivial thing like this is a feature, when it comes to Apple. Here’s a look at some other features I use:
- Redesigned Widgets: Looks nice to me. Personally, I’d prefer all my widgets to have their distinct look and feel, rather than being a monotonous list of buttons and labels.
- Search: Reminds me of Spotlight. Another win.
- Scribble, Shape Recognition and the whole Handwriting goodness: So far on the iPad, the only App that ever came close to recognising handwriting for me was MyScript’s Nebo App. Although much of the features presented by Apple remain to be tried and tested in real-world scenarios, I’m confident that these features bring the built in Notes app as a viable contender to both MyScript Nebo and GoodNotes, having included the best of both the worlds.
- Apple Maps adds a few tricks: Silicon Valley TV Show’s line still echoes in my head when I hear of Apple Maps: “Gavin, it’s Apple Maps bad.” Apple Maps has certainly come a long way from that, at least in the US, which is a slow, but steady progress. Keep going, Apple.
- Safari: Finally gets page translation features that I’ve been missing from my time in Google Chrome. Even Microsoft’s Edge browser has it. Its not much, but Apple finally has their foot in the door. I hope its gonna get much better in the years to come. So, only Firefox now, huh? Passwords monitoring (Apple’s version of Pwned Passwords) and Privacy Report are welcome features too. Now bring those WebExtensions too.
- Siri finally looks like its not a full page app. Trivial, but welcome.
- Voice Memos: Finally gets an all‑new Enhance Recording feature lets you improve the sound quality of your recordings with a single tap. I’ve been missing this since I last used Windows Recorder on Windows XP. Dunno why they’re so late to the party.
- Privacy features: Privacy information on the App Store, Recording Indicators are all nice things, but “Upgrade to Sign In With Apple” and “Approximate Location” are my favorites at a glonce. This is a major reason why I prefer Apple, it’s the little details. Execution still remains to be seen, but I’m confident they’ll match expectations.
That’s all for the iPadOS, folks! And now, we move on to the bigger guns: the Mac.
The Big Sur Story
macOS 11, nicknamed Big Sur is finally coming this fall. On a completely unrelated note, my first few days at US, I got to visit Big Sur, after being inspired from Joshua Sortino’s wallpaper of the same, which can be found in full resolution on Unsplash:
I use it as a desktop wallpaper to this day, and joked how Apple had missed such a beautiful location. I wondered if this should perhaps be the next macOS wallpaper.
So, when I got the news today that Apple had finally named their new OS as Big Sur, I was quite delighted. It was a pleasant surprise to witness first thing in the morning. So, kudos for reading my mind, Apple.
Finally, macOS 11
Which comes with all new refreshed Dock and Control Center, that reminds you of iDevices. I have mixed feelings about the iOS like interface, but I’m quite certain glitches, if any will be ironed out once this debuts in September 2020. Here are some new features:
- Safari: In addition to features of the iPad version, Safari for macOS gets support for WebExtensions API, which means that in theory, extensions written for Google Chrome like browsers can be ported over to Safari as well. This is a step in the right direction, coming from Apple. However, implementation and App Store policy remains to be seen. I’m pretty certain Apple won’t allow us to sideload extensions, and chances of my favorite browser extensions like uBlock Origin and Video DownloadHelper ending up on the App Store remain pretty low for now. In addition, Safari gets improved power efficiency and a customizable start page.
- Photos App gets extended Photos and Video editing capabilities.
- Faster Updates, running silently in the background. I sure hope the option to download updates manually and to turn them off still remains, Windows 10 has been an awful example on multiple occasions when it tried to forcefully push updates and ended up breaking things.
- India specific features: New fonts and localized message effects in Messages. I’ll try it out during Raksha Bandhan.
- FaceTime features: FaceTime now recognises when someone uses a sign language, and gives them prominence in a group call. A neat accessibility feature. Little things again. Realtime translation of sign language might be another area to explore, with the coronavirus exceeding all its growth projections, it looks like video chats might become a norm sooner than expected.
- Treats for a novice developer: Support for SF Symbols lands in macOS 11 at last.
- A few hopes for change: Improving firewall implementation. Starting macOS Catalina, Apple requires all apps be notarized, a move it claims, is for the safety of the users. While all that is fine, the Firewall on macOS seems to be obviously broken, since is requires user to provide consent everytime they open an unsigned app, even if the application is set to always allow connections. At least give me an option to remember my choice here Apple. Do you seriously expect everyone to click Accept or Deny each time some unsigned app is opened?
Apple has finally decided to make the switch to its in-house Apple Silicon starting this year, and expects to complete the transition within the next 2 years. I sure hope that Intel Macs are supported long enough before they fade out, in case Apple has planned that. And now, since Apple is finally allowing people to run iOS and macOS apps side by side, I think its time Apple bring a touchscreen Mac of their own. I even have a generic tagline: One Mac to rule ‘em all. I’m sure Apple can do better than that.
In all, nice updates on the iPad and Mac. How macOS pans out on Apple’s own silicon remains to be seen once this is out in the wild.