back to article Five actually useful real-world things that came out at Apple's WWDC

Are you excited about Apple's new AR emoji as we are? Or the push-to-talk feature for the Apple Watch? Just kidding, folks. Once a year, the world's biggest computer company gives us its annual dump of new platform stuff for developers. And while Apple likes to add a bit of froth, the signal-to-noise ratio at its Worldwide …

  1. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Gimp

    Damn it

    I have always called the apple fans fanboys as the never seemed to be any justification for Apple prices.

    But give the supper creepy behaviour of the web giants, I am seriously thinking about jumping the Android ship for my next phone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damn it

      I concur. Never used an iPhone, might actually jump ship to Apple once my contract is up at year-end.

      iPhones also tend to retain their resale value higher than Android phones. And unless it's a Samsung, it's hard to acquire peripherals and accessories for other brands of Android phones. For example, the better cases only cater to iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones.

      All I need from Google i Google Maps... and that's it.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Damn it

        All I need from Google i Google Maps... and that's it.

        Oh, just that. That's probably Google's most effective property…, which is why Apple went to such lengths to create its own map system.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Damn it

          Map apps are like doctors: always have a second, third or more opinions.

          I also like MAPS.ME on Android, which is also available for iOS.

          Sometimes Google Maps isn't very useful. For example, if you're visiting Vietnam (Saigon), Google Street View does not exist. You only get photo images of the streets taken by some Vietnamese mapping company and

          1) They're outdated, and the city is rapidly changing. Not good.

          2) Many streets and alleys omitted.

          Then again, it's a country which only got its first McDonald's restaurant a few years ago. Such things take time.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Damn it

            I dislike Apple and their phones and their iOS.

            But it's better than the alternative. I have one of those Planet Geminis and it is reminding me of just how totally shite Android is. I have to tolerate it until Planet get a mature linux to flash on.

            Avoiding Android is truly worth £100s.

            1. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

              Re: Damn it

              "Planet get a mature linux to flash on"

              It is not a matter of maturity of Linux. Linux is deliberately designed for performance not security. This is good for well-controlled servers where they are operated by professional staff. Thus security is manual.

              In the fast-changing world of a user device (downloading apps, updates all the time) better security via microkernels is needed. Linux will never have this by design, not by maturity.

      2. CheesyTheClown

        Re: Damn it

        I’m gonna probably jump to Android soon. I’ve used iPhone since the early days and am pretty much tired of the non-stop Apple works with everything as long as it’s Apple.

        Home automation works if you have a unit in every room. Amazon Echo is $99 and Echo Dot is $29. So in a house with 5 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, two bathrooms and two hallways, the Echo is expensive but a reasonable solution. Home Pod is too big to begin with and even at half the price is too expensive.

        I spend about $1000 a year on the iTunes Store. To control my music, either I have to store it on a server after downloading it or I have to use an Apple device. Movies can’t even be decrypted legally, so Apple is a requirement. We have 6 screens in the house, 4 have Chromecast built in. One has an Apple TV and the last has a PC.

        We don’t want to add Apple TV to all the screens because they would need separate power and separate remotes. Then there’s the mounting issues.

        So, we often find ourselves renting films on Google that we already own on iTunes.

        The door locks we have aren’t compatible with any service, but writing a skill for Alexa took about an hour. Writing a function for Cortana took 15 minutes.

        I don’t believe I will be allowed by Apple to write the skill for Siri, so I’d have to throw away $2000 of perfectly good door locks.

        I love my iPhone 6S Plus. But every iPhone patch breaks something new. Watching videos gets more and more inconvenient. My audible app actually skips... it sounds like a scratched record. I have an iPhone X but I’ll end up dead from using it.

        Then there’s my car. iPhone integration isn’t bad. But if I want proper integration, I’ll have to pay $400 a year to BMW.

        So, I may end up switching to Android even though I hate Android just because it actually gives me options. So I’ll have a phone that sucks, but at least it will work with my other stuff.

        Oh, there’s the other issue. I’ve been waiting 8 years for a new line of Macs to buy. The last notebook Apple made which didn’t suck was the MacBook Air 11 inch. I still use a 2011 model of it. And Mac Mini is so out of date it is horrifying. If Apple doesn’t make a new PC suitable for software development before my MacBook dies, I don’t think I’ll buy anything current.

        I’m pretty sure Apple as a tech company died with Steve Jobs :(

        1. ThomH Silver badge

          Re: Damn it @CheesyTheClown

          As a fellow MacBook Air 2011 owner, it's also a little sad for me that it will exit the list of Macs that receive the latest version of the OS with the next release, 10.14. Certainly if your issue is that you find Apple devices only talk well to other Apple devices then you might as well write that out of the set of mutually talkative devices in the near future; they don't explicit switch these things off but proprietary protocol rot takes its toll. My iOS 5 and iOS 9 iPads can still play video content from iTunes but the iOS 9 device that's supposed to sync with my iTunes Match now inexplicably offers only maybe a twentieth of my content.

          That being said, I'll be back for a newer Mac and an iPhone update if and when my 6s becomes a burden; I'm not particularly interested in home automation, habitually rent movies through Amazon rather than iTunes, and my iPhone works flawlessly with my Garmin watch.

    2. Packet

      Re: Damn it

      Do it - come to the fruity side.

      "one of us, one of us..."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damn it

        It's for the greater good.

        The greater good

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Damn it

      But give the supper creepy behaviour of the web giants

      Just because Apple doesn't sell ads, doesn't mean they're not collecting as much data.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damn it

        Correct, it doesn’t, however issue a subject access request to Apple, Google, and Facebook. The size of the response will give you a good impression.

        1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

          Re: Damn it

          Unlike Google or Facebook, Apple has not built its business around acquiring personal behavioural data. It merely sells overpriced hardware, and does not have an advertising business to feed.

          Or, another way to look at it: Apple's hardware is not subsidized by monetizing your personal information.

      2. ptmmac

        Re: Damn it

        Well they did just explicitly say that they don't want your data... Not sure how much more direct they can be. They also have refused to keep open doors on your security for the government to use.

        I have always preferred Apple, but there have been some real questions lately. It is not all roses. The clarity of purpose, and design has dropped off significantly. Apple software was much more stable and secure before the most recent 2 or 3 iterations. There have been signs that they are simply slower to respond now that they have gotten bigger. The most recent OS updates have been focused on restoring much of that. If they can do the same on the hardware side, with Jony Ive working on computers again instead of the Apple campus, then they are going to be pretty hard to displace.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damn it

        Yeah, but there's a major difference in how they use your data.

        I'm OK with Apple harvesting a little data to improve the products I own, and build better products that I might want to buy. However, I'm not OK with someone selling all my personal information to any random company, because they decided that I fit into their target audience, and therefore need to have their products shoved under my nose.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Levels of data collection

          Level 1 - Apple: collect data to improve products, data isn't "used against you". Data collection is limited and anonymized so if they are hacked or have a rogue employee personalized data can't escape.

          Level 2 - Google: collect data to improve targeted ads, data is "used against you" but not directly sold to third parties (i.e. they benefit from Google using it but they can't see the raw data) Data collection is not limited or anonymized so if they are hacked or have a rogue employee personalized data may potentially escape.

          Level 3 - Facebook: collect data to monetize any way they can, including targeted advertising AND selling it to pretty much anyone they feel like without telling you. You must assume everything Facebook knows about you (at least up until around now when they might finally be getting the hint their policies are a real problem) is in the wild forevermore.

          AFAIK Amazon is likely level 2, though could be level 3. Microsoft was level 1, but recently decided to "upgrade" to level 2.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damn it

      Used to be an Apple hater myself (thought they were overrated and expensive) but after trying out an iPod Touch when they 1st came out in an Apple store, I was very impressed.

      Bought an iPhone 3GS the same year and owned an iPhone ever since.

      There products do just work and they work very well together e.g iPad, Watch etc

      My favourite Apple product now is actually the Watch, use my iPhone a lot less because of it

    5. DougS Silver badge

      I'm an iPhone user

      And now when I'm running Firefox on my Linux desktop I'm going to be wishing I had that level of protection!

      C'mon Firefox, the bar is being raised, time to jump over it and put Safari behind til iOS 13 can once again jump over Firefox - I wanna see a race "who can screw Facebook and Google's user tracking based business model more thoroughly" :)

      1. joejack

        Re: I'm an iPhone user

        Mozilla/Firefox got there first with an arguably cleaner solution. They seem to be very privacy focused lately:

        https://blog.mozilla.org/firefox/facebook-container-extension/

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Facebook container extension

          No, that's not the same thing AT ALL. All it does is "log you out of Facebook and delete Facebook cookies". I hardly ever login to Facebook on my browser and when I do I always use a private window to avoid its cookies leaking out to my regular browsing sessions. This extension would do fuck all for me, and it sounds like this is an extension - not even part of Firefox.

          That extension does NOTHING to prevent Facebook using their 'like' buttons that are ubiquitous on web sites all over the internet from tracking you, which they do even if you don't click on them. That's what Apple is trying to attack here, and Firefox is doing ZERO to prevent that. Maybe there are some third party extensions to do this, but this should be built into the browser for Facebook, Google and Amazon, and you should be able to add other websites to that list if you so choose.

    6. howieb2001

      Re: Damn it

      I have tried it. Loved the hardware (iPhone 7 Plus) but after a few weeks couldn't take any more of iOS. Can't fault Apple on resale values though.

    7. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Damn it

      "But give the supper creepy behaviour of the web giants, I am seriously thinking about jumping the Android ship for my next phone."

      Yes. ONce the new crop of Android smartphones came out and convinced me that they aren't something that I'm willing to buy anymore, I seriously considered Apple for this reason. The only thing that stops me is the damned walled garden. If it weren't for that, I'd already use one. But, it's a showstopper issue for me, so there's no refuge there.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge
    Holmes

    "Unlike Google or Facebook, Apple has not built its business around acquiring personal behavioural data. It merely sells overpriced hardware, and does not have an advertising business to feed."

    So why do they hold on to your voice requests via Siri on their servers for 2 years?

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Exactly.

      Just because their business model doesn't require selling advertising, that doesn't mean that they don't collect the biggest user-data silo that they can.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Go

        Which makes you wonder, if they arent selling their user data silos to advertising agencies, who are they selling it to?

        1. Packet

          I don't believe they say they sell it to anyone.

          Only because their privacy policy says so - and to be found doing so otherwise, would be such a giant legal shitstorm.

          And what's worse, it would make their hardware cost unjustifiable.

          Especially since they've made it one of their unique selling points.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            And what's worse, it would make their hardware cost unjustifiable.

            Nah, the hardware prices are determined by what the market will bear. It's just retrospective justification to try and link thet two. Apple keeps expanding in the services area (music, film and tv, maps, health, home automation, automotive, payments…) and uses user data for this.

            1. gnasher729 Silver badge

              And what the market will bear is determined by the company trying their best to protect you from the data collectors and not selling you out.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            That's right, Uncle Sam gets all your data for free.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      @wolfetone

      It's stored associated with only a randomised ID as metadata, and it loses that association after six months. It then survives untethered for the remaining eighteen.

      I'd therefore posit that it's being used for Siri training, not for the sake of "acquiring personal behavioural data".

      That is to answer your question literally. It doesn't make me a lot happier to know that my requests would be stored for two years even if they didn't have details attached that more explicitly identify me. That's partly why I don't use Siri, though my main justification is the same as for the other voice assistants: I'm unclear of any situation in which they'd be useful for me.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Holding onto Siri data makes sense

      When they improve Siri they can backtest it against old requests (at least if they saved it in enough detail) Having history of past requests would also improve Siri's responses in the future.

      A 'personal assistant' without any memory of the past would be far less useful. Think about celebrities who have personal assistants, do you think it would work well if they had a different one each day? That's really our ultimate goal here is to someday (many many years from now) have Siri, Alexa etc. be able to act like a human personal assistant (other than physical running errands....though by the time this happens maybe they WILL be able to physically run errands)

    4. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      So why do they hold on to your voice requests via Siri on their servers for 2 years?

      It's stored associated with only a randomised ID as metadata, and it loses that association after six months. It then survives untethered for the remaining eighteen.

      As far as I can tell, Google, Amazon and Microsoft retain voice recordings -- linked to your user account -- for eternity.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Touchscreens

    "There are currently no touchscreen Macs. So some similar compromise will need to be fashioned"

    However, the current Macs all have touchpads which can do multitouch, pinch etc. So I would imagine that gestures would map in a fairly obvious fashion:

    * point and click => touch

    * two-finger drag (the current macOS scrolling gesture) => swipe

    * pinch => pinch

    1. Blessed Cheesemaker

      Re: Touchscreens

      ^ was going to point this out as well. I find the touch pad to be much more precise. Also, extra advantages: you don't have to take your hands away from the keyboard & no greasy paw prints on your screen! (greasey smudges on my screen are my biggest pet peeve).

  4. Gordon Pryra

    Funny Sound Bite on Radio 4 This morning

    The sound of apple fan boys cheering as they announced a built in App to restrict the time you use your phone was funny.

    Its amazing how Apple have innovated and invented an app that tells you when you are using your phone too much!!!1

    I do seem to remember a little animated sheep on my Windows NT server hosting an IIS 2 website.

    When you worked 4 hours it would bleet and tell you to take a rest.

    The only cheers then were the Nerds as the sheep would fall of the edge of a window.......

    1. }{amis}{ Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Funny Sound Bite on Radio 4 This morning

      LOL Bring back the flying toasters!

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Inspector71

        Re: Funny Sound Bite on Radio 4 This morning

        +1 for After Dark reference.

    2. Argh

      Re: Funny Sound Bite on Radio 4 This morning

      > The sound of apple fan boys cheering as they announced a built in App to restrict the time you use your phone was funny.

      Remember that at apple events, a fairly large proportion of the audience are Apple employees, they reserve a lot of spaces for them to make sure they get enough whoops, particularly if it's a reveal event with journalists (who tend not to whoop much).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Funny Sound Bite on Radio 4 This morning

      I think that is a parental control feature, to cater to the young parents of today who would rather outsource parenting to companies. Apple isn't the only one doing that.

      1. MGJ

        Re: Funny Sound Bite on Radio 4 This morning

        Because of course you've had great success with a grumpy teenager who you've politely asked to switch off their phone during dinner or to allow them to get some sleep.

      2. Chris 3

        Re: Funny Sound Bite on Radio 4 This morning

        As an old parent, with parents now in their early teens, parental controls were extremely useful, and not really a question of 'outsourcing'. The kids knew they got an hour a day, and didn't complain when the 5-minute warning appeared. What exactly is the problem?

        1. Shades
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Funny Sound Bite on Radio 4 This morning

          "As an old parent, with parents now in their early teens"

          Does not compute.

  5. sandman
    Devil

    The future's bright...

    "On Huawei's latest cameras, AI turns grass fluorescent and the Palace of Westminster orange." I thought the DUP had already changed the Palace of Westminster orange.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    32-Way Facetime

    How can this not be on the list? Think of the multitude of people who's lives will be enhanced by sitting next to someone participating in 32-way chat on loudspeaker. The world will never be the same again.

    1. O RLY

      Re: 32-Way Facetime

      So, not that much different than the pillocks who sit in the cafe with a Skype or Zoom or Webex meeting today?

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: 32-Way Facetime

        How else would you hold an online wankathon? Mmmm?

        1. Brennan Young

          Re: 32-Way Facetime

          "online wankathon" - are there cookies involved?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 32-Way Facetime

      I really want to see how this works in real life situations.

      When people are doing group video chats on Skype or other apps, because there is a wide variety of microphone quality and bandwidth, sometimes you see stuttering or one of the participants simply getting disconnected.

      Because Facetime only works with Apple users, that randomness is eliminated.

  7. An nonymous Cowerd

    macOS password management seems screwed anyway?

    having recently updated a mac-mini to something bigger that should be able to run 3 x eGPUs when GPUs come back on sale, I noticed that I'm worried about Apple's parity

    giving third-party password managers parity with Apple's own password manager

    Apple's own Keychain doesnt have (all of) your passwords, many remain in Safari or Chrome.

    Chrome wouldnt allow me to d/l my passwords - but would give them to anyone with access to passwords.google.com who can guess my first password.

    I eventually, by using Time Machine backups and finding an ancient version of Chrome, setting some obscure settings, was able to d/l all usernames & passwords in .csv format.

    But safari, nope, Safari recently decided (from 10.0 onwards?) that it wouldnt give/export the owner their password list either, nor save it in local Keychain. I had to revert to post-it notes, copying one at a time.

    I guess the national security letters are waiting around iCloud Keychain-sharing as well as the voice samples, after all, although Apple 'really believes' in 'our privacy' they also have no alternative but to comply with secret stuff.

    this secret squirrel behaviour only offends ~5% of the USA tech staff, across all the US companies!

    https://www.stripes.com/news/us/big-tech-firms-march-to-the-beat-of-pentagon-cia-despite-dissension-1.531048#

    maybe I'm wrong, and 1-password (for example) can find everything that the data controller/owner can't

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: macOS password management seems screwed anyway?

      I think your method of questioning might be at fault; Safari stores all passwords in the keychain. Open Keychain Assistant, switch to passwords, enter any website name in the search field and there are the entries that correlate to my passwords. Double click one, tick the 'show password' box, enter my system password and there it is.

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Lots of dialog boxes...

    Do you want to allow 'facebook.com' to use cookies and website data while browsing 'blabbermouth.net'? This will allow 'facebook.com' to track your activity.

    If a page can link to 100 or more scripts while it's downloading, is this going to be like Netscape Communicator was back in the day when you configured it to pop up a dialog box for every new cookie that was set?

  9. ecarlseen

    I thought browser fingerprint hiding deserved a mention.

    Besides cookies and whatnot, the other big tracking mechanism is browser fingerprints. Safari on MacOS Mojave will present a "standard fingerprint" (plugins, fonts, etc., etc., etc.,) to all sites - allegedly making all Macs look the same (insert Apple Fanboi joke here).

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I thought browser fingerprint hiding deserved a mention.

      Sadly the Safari browser is only for iOS/MacOS now. But this is very much what Mozilla should be doing, instead of slavishly copying Chrome, in order to keep themselves relevant and possibly even desired.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: I thought browser fingerprint hiding deserved a mention.

      So now I'm actually going to have to do the not-a-robot tests? Probably worth it.

      If there is ever a robot uprising, all we need to do is drive at them in our cars. Apparently being able to tell which roads have cars on them proves you're not a robot.

  10. MGJ

    Scripting

    It would be great if I could run a script on leaving the house that switched off wifi, switched GPS on, turned volume to max, opened Runkeeper, ready for my commute by bike. Takes a minute or two just now, especially as location is hidden away behind the privacy tab.

    (If I could already do this and just haven't realised, please poke fun at me and then tell me how to do it)

    1. John H Woods

      Re: Scripting

      On Android you can do all that with Tasker

  11. John70

    Facebook

    Last year Apple made a gentle start by expiring tracking cookies, but this seriously raises the game; Apple's demonstration explicitly targeted Facebook.

    Facebook could turn round and limit what Safari users could see and do or inject into Safari user's feed to use Chrome, Firefox or even Edge.

    Be interesting to see how this will escalate.

    1. Chris 3

      Re: Facebook

      Facebook is already in a PR tangle. I think they would be loathe to fan the flames by blocking a browser for offering privacy settings. More interesting will be if Mozilla follow suit.

    2. Ken Y-N

      Facebook nagging

      I use the mobile web site version of Facebook on Android, and it is very noisy about "Do you want to download Facebook 'Lite' (Lite on space, just as Heavy on the data slurping)", regularly giving me splash screens, messages, and reminders in comment threads, etc, so I can imagine Facebook being even more aggressive about persuading you to get an app on the Mac/iPhone.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Facebook nagging

        True, but then Apple could threaten to purge the FB app from its store/phones.

        Now a lot of FB addicts might be unhappy, but a nice long detailed message from Apple to said users about what FB is doing and why might make them (and their higher-than-average spending to advertisers) think twice about using FB ever again.

        One way or another, I would be happy to sit back with some popcorn and watch the fall out.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love apple.

  13. DougS Silver badge

    You can enroll a second face for Face ID

    That will make jealous/snoopy spouses the world over happy :)

  14. Neoc

    Wouldn't work

    "(The old voice recognition gag: hover behind someone at a Unix command prompt and say "arr emm dash eff slash".)"

    Wouldn't work: you're missing a couple of spaces in there ("rm-rf/") and that's assuming the voice recog recognised you were spelling something and not doing a bad pirate impersonation ("Arr 'im dash off, slash")

  15. Nimby
    Coffee/keyboard

    how much can an iOS actually do on MacOS

    Doesn't matter, as this is the wrong question. The question should be: Given that you have a real computer with a real monitor, have real processing power, significant memory, and expansive screen real estate galore, why on <insert your favorite deity here>'s green earth would any sane person prefer to use an "app" designed with a cellphone's limitations instead of a real application that can fully utilize everything that you have?

    The number of advantageous use-cases for íOS on MacOS are very few, and are mostly just games.

    Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

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