Apple unveils software updates for iOS 16

CUPERTINO, Calif. — More than two years into the coronavirus pandemic, Apple made a big push Monday to get back to normal by inviting hundreds of software developers and journalists to its campus for the unveiling of a lineup new software features that extend the iPhone. utility.

During a two-hour presentation, Apple unveiled a buy it now, pay later program that spreads a purchase over several months, much like the programs offered by PayPal and others. It also said it was expanding the ability to use an iPhone to unlock the doors of apartments, hotel rooms and rental cars. And it introduced a version of CarPlay that would take over a vehicle’s entire dashboard, providing speed and fuel information as well as maps and music.

Collectively, the new features show how Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is always finding ways to extend the usefulness and longevity of Apple’s most important product while driving more sales from it through features that push the company deeper into adjacent sectors such as finance, real estate and automotive.

“They’re the digital control center, and they’re expanding their reach as more and more devices are digitized,” said Bob O’Donnell, president of TECHnalysis Research, a technology research firm. “A lot of it isn’t going to change the world, but it’s a bit of a freshness upgrade that people appreciate.”

Software updates continue a year-long lull in introducing a new category of products from a company that its co-founder Steve Jobs has made synonymous with groundbreaking new devices. Apple last unveiled a new product category, wearables, in 2014 when it launched the Apple Watch.

The pandemic has helped boost sales of Apple’s legacy products. Students and employees forced to work from home have found it useful to upgrade to the latest versions of its iPhone, iPad and Mac computers. Many have turned to video games and subscriptions for Apple TV+, helping to boost the company’s sales last year by 33% to $366 billion.

On Monday, Apple sought to continue the momentum of its Macs by updating its most popular computer, the MacBook Air. The new version ditches a decade-old wedge-shaped case in favor of a thin, rectangular laptop. The computer is available in a multitude of colors, including silver, space gray, gold, and dark blue. The new model is 20% smaller than its predecessor and weighs 2.7 pounds, the company said.

The MacBook Air features Apple’s newest processor, the M2, which the company said offered increased performance even though it required less battery power.

The company said it’s bringing more personalization to iPhone, with the ability to customize the lock screen with colors, widgets, and Live Activities. The new software will allow iPhone users to create custom lock screens for different purposes, such as a work screen that shows an overview of a calendar or a personal screen that shows physical activity data.

The new software features, which are part of Apple’s new iOS 16 operating system for iPhone, mirror those Google introduced for its Android system in 2021. Google has created Material You, an offering that allows users to change the appearance of their lock screens by pulling colors. in their home screens.

In addition to these updates, Apple said it’s revamping its messaging system, allowing people to call back and edit texts after they’ve sent them. There’s also a new ability to compose messages by switching seamlessly between text input and voice memo dictation.

The company’s efforts to go beyond its existing business have extended to new software for the iPad. He showcased new workplace collaboration tools called Freeform, which allow colleagues to brainstorm on multiple devices at the same time. This feature, similar to offerings from Microsoft and Google, has the potential to increase the value of the iPad for businesses.

Apple also unveiled software updates to its smartwatch that will allow runners to monitor their gait – potentially foregoing work with trainers – and help people track the stages of their sleep cycle.

The presentation was the first major event Apple has hosted at its Cupertino campus since 2019. In light of the rise in coronavirus cases in the Bay Area, the company has set up screens and chairs at the cafeteria exterior at the heart of its $5 billion campus, Apple Park. Attendees included developers, journalists and retail workers, a group Apple wants to improve its relationship with amid rising unionization.

Although the event focused on existing products, it was peppered with hints of a virtual reality product that the company hopes will be its next business-changing device. Apple said it was making it easier for apps to use Siri, creating a shortcut that will allow voice-based interaction with apps in future headsets, a person familiar with the project said. He also showed a demo of a new Resident Evil video game with the kind of fancy graphics that are usual in VR games.

The helmet, which looks like a pair of ski goggles, is not expected to ship until next year due to power and battery performance issues, two people familiar with the project said.

Its success is far from guaranteed. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has struggled to broaden the appeal of its Quest virtual reality headset beyond video game enthusiasts. Last year, it exceeded about 10 million units sold, a small fraction of the 240 million iPhones that analysts estimate Apple has shipped.

Apple has struggled to persuade developers to embrace its vision of a mixed reality world. In 2017, it introduced ARKit to allow developers to use the iPhone’s camera and motion sensor to start blending the digital and real worlds. But about 70% of Apple developers said they don’t use the tool, according to a survey of more than 500 developers by Creative Strategies, a technology research firm.

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