Seven jaw-dropping features of WWDC 2022

If Apple’s WWDC keynote had taken place in person, it’s easy to imagine the live audience would be applauding some of the preview features. We would have applauded for everything we wrote in “Ten ‘It’s About Time’ Features from WWDC 2022” (June 6, 2022). Then there would have been the points where a presenter’s script said “but was reportedly greeted by a silent crowd wearing puzzled expressions.

Not all of these features are necessarily bad, although some are and some are simply inexplicable. They are WTF – what feature was Apple thinking?

Apple pay later

Two-thirds of Americans live paycheck to paycheckand now Apple wants to help them buy more things they can’t afford with Apple Pay Later, which divides the purchase price into four interest-free installments. That you have six weeks to repay. Yes, you read that right; you have to pay for your Apple Pay Later purchases in six weeks, which makes us wonder what’s the point. You might want to space out payments for an expensive purchase like an iPhone or Mac over 12 months, especially if you urgently need to replace a machine. But we don’t see how Apple sticking its toe in the Buy Now, Pay Later industry helps users make good financial decisions, and that’s not a good look for Apple. And after? Apple payday loans?

Focus filters

Focus was the most confusing feature of iOS 15 (see “Apple’s new Focus feature may be overkill”, Jan 20, 2022), so we were hoping for an iOS 16 redesign that would reduce the complexity. Sometimes Apple doesn’t get it right the first time and has to repeat the next year. Instead, Apple has doubled down and made Focus even more convoluted than before. In iOS 16, you will be able to add Focus filters, which allow you show only relevant content, hiding entire calendars, email accounts, mail accounts, Messages conversations, and Safari tab groups. Imagine the support questions:

  • “Why did my Gmail account disappear on my iPad? »
  • “Where do my browser tabs continue?”
  • “I was talking to my wife in Messages, but now it’s gone!”

Introduction to focus filters

To make matters worse, a personalized setup experience will suggest relevant apps, wallpapers, and widgets, along with the new ability to turn off notifications from apps and people. Typical users already don’t know why their devices act in certain ways, and these Focus features will make the Apple experience even more unpredictable. If you’re willing to accept responsibility for Focus preventing you from receiving an important notification or hiding data, go crazy, but for most people we recommend setting Focus only to Do Not Disturb (while sleeping) and Driving .

free form

Apple has previewed a new digital whiteboard app called Freeform that it says will ship before the end of the year. (In other words, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t appear with initial versions of macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, and iPadOS 16.) There’s nothing inherently wrong with the digital whiteboard — it is a huge category with entries from Google, Microsoft, and a host of other companies, but why would Apple bother to get into the space? Only the most Apple-centric businesses or schools would turn to an Apple tool in favor of the Google or Microsoft productivity suites that dominate group collaboration scenarios. Anyone who wants to go beyond the standard tools already has a wide choice of alternatives. What else can Apple deliver but demo whiteboards that look way better than any competitor – or user – would ever create?

Free entry

Next Generation CarPlay

During the keynote, Apple went to great lengths to demonstrate a massive CarPlay update. Apple envisions the cars of the future will use displays for the dashboard and environmental controls, not just the infotainment system like today. Thus, the next-gen version of CarPlay will allow users to reconfigure the information displayed on each screen, customize the appearance, and more.

Introducing Next-Gen CarPlay

The only problem? Cars that support it won’t start hitting the market until late 2023, meaning it could be a few more years or more before this level of CarPlay support hits the market. be commonplace. Why is Apple talking about it years before it’s a reality, especially considering how rare most people buy cars? We assume that Apple is trying to establish its credentials in the automotive market ahead of the eventual release of the widely popular Apple Car. Or maybe Apple is looking to enter the automotive world by licensing automakers a full carOS?

Moreover, this vision of CarPlay raises important questions about car interfaces. It might be nice if you could take your custom interface from car to car (especially rental cars), but will CarPlay bring up everything the native car interface can do? (We’re assuming cars will still have native interfaces, even if they’re screen-based as well.) And, to elevate the usual bogeyman, what if your phone crashes or crashes? breakdown while driving? CarPlay is a great add-on, but we’re not sure we want to rely on it for safety-related features.

Customize spatial audio with the TrueDepth camera

This announcement came and went pretty quickly, but it immediately had us scratching our heads. The idea, it seems, is that spatial audio sounds more realistic if it can take into account aspects of the listener’s physicality that affect their perception of space. Apparently that’s one thing— called head-bound transfer functions — and capturing data using the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera, Apple could customize the otherwise average HRTF that combines data from thousands of people. We’re not saying it’s possible, but is spatial audio so important, and will the customization make enough of a difference to justify training your iPhone (much less Apple’s development effort) ? We have lots of ideas for things Apple could do that would have a greater impact on more users – see “Five improvements for future Apple operating systems” (May 19, 2022).

Spatial audio intro

Transfer for FaceTime

We hope this feature – transferring a FaceTime call from one Apple device to another – was easy to implement as it’s hard to imagine many people using it. The pitch looks attractive but makes no sense on examination. Who’s going to get a FaceTime call while outside the house, then manage to keep the call going while juggling keys and opening doors, dropping off packages and taking off shoes and coats, all so you can access your Mac, wake up and transfer the call to a computer with a much worse camera? (It’s slightly more understandable if the iPhone automatically invokes Continuity Camera to become your Mac’s webcam in the process.) We’d hang up and call back.

Introduction to FaceTime Transfer

Safari shared tab groups

Safari’s tab groups never made much sense to us. Browser tabs are ephemeral items – we open and close hundreds of them every day – so there’s no benefit to organizing them. Worse, it doesn’t even work well. If you selected a group of tabs and then clicked a URL in another app, Safari responds by creating a new window for that tab instead of combining it with the tabs in the current window. Also, on one of my two Macs, when I close a tab in a Safari tab group and immediately hit Command-Z to bring it back, it comes back for a second or two and then disappears again , without the possibility of using Undo again. It doesn’t build trust.

Overall, tab groups are a mess, though they’re easily overlooked. If you want to save and work with a set of web pages in a way that has some permanence, place bookmarks in a Favorites folder and Command-click it to open them all.

However, in this year’s OS updates, Apple said we’ll be able to share Safari tab groups with friends so anyone can add (and likely close) tabs in the group anytime. by working together. It’s possible to build a use case for why a group might want to create a set of web pages, but if you put in that effort, wouldn’t you want some permanence, so the accidental click of a person or Command -W does not destroy the tab for everyone? Hey gang, let’s work together to put lipstick on this pig!

Understanding Safari Shared Tab Groups

We’re not just curmudgeonly here – many of the new features Apple has planned for macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 sound great – but when there are still plenty of potholes to fix, that’s frustrating to see Apple focusing time and effort on poorly designed features that we doubt will see much use.

Rosalie M. Dehner