Apple WWDC stage 2016

Apple WWDC 2016: Better Maps and Photos, But Where Are the Laptops?

By Patricia Rey Mallén NewsNo Comments

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Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) hit the headlines last week, with software upgrades for mobile devices and laptops getting most of the attention.

Both iOS and OS X are bound for a revamp this year. Developers got to start playing with an early version of iOS 10 during the event, and will be putting it through its paces before it launches this fall.

Along with the upgrade, OS X gets a new name: starting with the next version, Apple’s laptop operating system will be called macOS. The latest version, Sierra, gets released to the public in September.

The updates bring a few interesting features for travellers, including better navigation, easy movement of data between devices and a better music service. Check them out.

 WWDC 2016 Venue

iOS 10

Improved Maps

Ever since Apple replaced Google Maps with its own navigation app on iPhones, people have asked if the company made a mistake.

Whatever the answer, Apple has stayed firm on its decision, adding new features and improvements with each version of its mobile operating system. iOS 10 follows suit, with a redesign that makes the app simpler and cleaner, with easier-to-access controls.

The revamp also includes suggested destinations judged by route and time of day, and uses appointments from the calendar. It will also allow you to filter these recommendations by business type, and give an estimated arrival time based on traffic.

These might not be the only updates: Apple is opening up the app to developers, which could bring interesting add-ons in upcoming months. How does booking a ride with Uber and paying for it with Apple Pay, without ever leaving the Maps app, sound?

 iOS 10

Redesign for Apple Music

Apple Music came to revolutionize the music streaming market… or so Apple made us think. In reality, it closely paralleled existing streaming services, and a couple of features made us wary of picking it over Spotify. The app is getting a big makeover with the new iOS, with a sleeker design meant to make navigation and use much easier.

The current (too) colorful look will disappear, replaced by a simpler black and white design focused on album artwork and text. It will also let you display the lyrics of the songs as they play. The “For You” recommendations tab will also see some changes, making it simpler to use and more prominent in the homepage.

macOS Sierra

Almighty iCloud

One of the key upgrades of the new macOS is giving even more power to iCloud. With Sierra, iCloud will work as a link between devices, make Apple Pay more powerful and free up precious storage space on your devices. Let me elaborate.

One of Sierra’s focuses will be making files and settings available across devices. Desktop files will sync to the cloud, and the data will be retrievable from any other iOS or macOS device running on Sierra.

No more panicking over leaving an important document on your home computer – Sierra takes care of that, even if you’re only travelling with your phone or iPad.

iCloud will also automatically grab unused files from your computer, via the new Optimized Storage feature in Sierra. If you’re running low on space, it’ll clear out your trash, delete certain caches and move files you haven’t touched in a while to the cloud, leaving room for stuff you actually use. Given the limited capacity on MacBook Airs in particular, this should be excellent news for travellers.

Lastly, macOS Sierra will also give you a way to use Apple Pay on laptops in participating countries. Users will be able to make online purchases with Apple Pay, authenticated through iCloud with a connected iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.

macOS Sierra

Siri Moves to Your Laptop

It’s not as travel-specific as some of the other updates, but has generated hype enough to warrant a mention: Siri will start speaking to us from our MacBooks as well as our iPhones.

The mechanics of the feature will be pretty much the same as on iOS. Built-in voice search will let Siri, now an app on the dock, search through cloud and local storage for documents, address iMessages, and pull information from the web. It’s like having a virtual assistant travel with you… kind of.

Other Stuff

Apple Watch

We haven’t been too excited about Apple Watch before, true. Apple’s latest gadget hasn’t held many useful features for travellers, and in general, it looks like it’ll stay that way: too much buck for its actual bang.

However, WWDC unveiled a few changes to the device, including a travel-friendly update. Apple Watches will now include an SOS feature, which will call emergency services by pressing a side button. It’ll even work internationally, as long as the watch is synced to a phone or Wi-Fi.

The feature will identify the local emergency number, and share useful information about the owner, including age, medical conditions or allergies.

This update alone isn’t enough to bring us into the Apple Watch camp, but it’s a promising start. Here’s hoping upcoming changes make the device more useful for those on the road.

Photo Memories

The new operating systems will alter the storage system for photos, making it more flexible and intuitive. Users will be able to organize photographs by person, using facial recognition, for example, or by “Memories”.

This new feature takes inspiration from Google’s own photo app, bundling photos together by location or event. This keeps the user’s “memories” in one place for easy browsing, and you can even set music to the montage, much like Google Photos.

Tim Cook WWDC 2016

What Wasn’t Announced

There was a glaring absence from this upgrade-packed edition of WWDC, one that has received some backlash. MacBooks, both Pro and Air, were notably missing from the stage. This left us wondering: with between 12 and 18 months since the last update, don’t these laptops deserve some love too?

Rumors abound that Apple might be looking away from the computer business, to focus on mobile devices – after all, most of the updates revolved around iOS.

Others have speculated that the company might be mixing up its laptop catalogue – the current Air range could be getting the axe, replaced by the iPad Pro and 12″ Macbook. There might even be a 15″ Air, but it’s all rumours at this point.

Be it good or bad, it looks like we’ll have to wait a while for this particular piece of news.

What do you think of Apple’s new and improved operating systems? Were there any other updates you’d like to have seen from WWDC?

Images via Apple.

About the Author
Patricia Rey Mallén

Patricia Rey Mallén

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A roaming writer and tech enthusiast, Patricia has been wandering the globe for 10-odd years. A passionate Apple lover, she is familiar with Genius bars from Sydney to Reykjavík to Mexico City. She only vaguely remembers life before the Internet, but will forever long for the days in which mobile phone batteries lasted for over a week.

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