Apple unveiled several innovations as an introduction to its annual show for software creators, the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which opened on Monday, June 6th. On the menu: several software enhancements planned for the fall and a new laptop at launch scheduled for July.
A modernized MacBook Air
The new MacBook Air has been completely redesigned. Its thickness is reduced by half a centimeter and its weight is reduced by 50 grams, while its screen grows from 13.3 inches to 13.6 inches. Its lines leave the curves cultivated by the MacBook Air since 2008 for a flat line whose angular edges capture the visual signature of the new generation of iPhones.
Its equipment is advancing, with a slightly brighter screen, a better webcam and a faster M2 processor than its predecessor’s M1, without compromising the computer’s advertised autonomy. On the other hand, instead of the USB-C connector on the previous MacBook Air, we find the old MagSafe power connector, which is less fragile as the cable connected to it is magnetized instead of connected.
The cheapest model of Apple’s series, the new MacBook Air, will still be marketed at 1,500 euros, a high price compared to the competition from computers equipped with Windows. The old MacBook Air equipped with an M1 processor remains in the catalog at a price of 1,200 euros.
On iPhone, a personal screen saver
This is the first screen that iPhone users see when downloading their mobile, even before unlocking it. Currently, this screen saver displays time and notifications, but it is not very customizable. This will change with iOS 16, the next version of the core software on the iPhone: its users will be able to change the dominant color of the screen, even switching it to black and white.
Those who have placed an image there will be able to move it down to make room for widgets, very small information panels showing, for example, an upcoming appointment or the number of steps taken that day. To further clean the screen, it will also be possible to remove the background of the image so that the people appearing there stand out better. These customization options, both aesthetic and ergonomic, seem so close that they seem complex at first glance.
This development will not be available on iPhone 6s, 7 and SE in 2016: These models, which will soon enter their sixth and seventh years, will be stripped of the new version of iOS when it comes this fall.
A tool against harassment in case of breakage
In the fall, iPhones will be equipped with the Safety Check, a tool designed for people who are separated from a potentially malicious relative. According to Apple, the Safety Check will list services and other passwords shared with that person and help cut those digital tapes to prevent possible harassment or surveillance behavior. This tool will also disable location tracking on iPhone, iPad or Macbook.
Improved email software
To make progress, Mail, Apple’s email software, will be largely inspired by Gmail, Google’s competing software. When Mail users press the send button to receive an email, they have a few seconds to undo it. They can schedule the sending of a message at a specific time and date and make a received email disappear in a few hours, to make it reappear at a better time.
According to Apple, Mail’s search engine will be better: it will be able to find an email even when the user formulates his search with a typo, or writes a synonym instead of the original word.
On MacBook and iPad, juggling software is easier
On Macbooks and iPads, open source software can now be displayed on the left side of the screen when not in use, shown in stamp format, three quarters sideways. The goal is that we can find them more easily when we want to show them off. This view, called Stage Manager, will not invade the screen automatically: you have to press a button to display it. It will be available on both tablet and desktop this fall, after MacBooks receives their upcoming Mac OS Ventura core software, and iPads upgrade to iPadOS 16.
Incidentally, we see that the ergonomics of Apple tablets are even closer to computers. Convergence is underway, after the opening of the iPad memory, their adoption of the mouse and the use of a processor of the same family. One wonders what is still holding Apple back from allowing large iPads to run the richer software reserved for their computers at the moment.
CarPlay invades the car screen
The CarPlay software is intended for drivers who, thanks to it, can find most of the features of their iPhone on the screen of their car. The CarPlay screen was previously limited to a single screen, located in the center of the dashboard. But cars tend to accommodate a different screen, located behind the wheel, replacing the rev counters Apple wanted to support this development.
On some car models, the CarPlay display will be expanded: Apple’s software will be able to display the speedometer, as well as other important vehicle features, such as air conditioning.
We can customize this display by selecting the information displayed there and even changing the color of the counters, which is not without raising questions about readability, ergonomics and ultimately safety. To develop this expanded CarPlay, Apple worked with a dozen manufacturers, including Volvo, Mercedes and Renault.