Apple announces software updates for iOS 16


Apple announces software updates for iOS 16

CUPERTINO, California — More than two years after the coronavirus pandemic, Apple on Monday made a major push to return to normal, inviting hundreds of software developers and journalists to its campus to unveil a slew of new software features that will iPhone extend utility.

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

Overall, the new features show how CEO Tim Cook is still finding ways to extend the utility and longevity of Apple’s flagship product while driving more revenue through features that dig the company deeper into neighboring industries like finance, finance, real estate and cars.

“They are the digital control center and are expanding their reach as more devices go digital,” said Bob O’Donnell, president of TECHnalysis Research, a technical research firm. “A lot of these won’t change the world, but they’re improvements that add a little freshness that people appreciate.”

The software updates continue a years-long hiatus in introducing a new product category from a company that its co-founder, Steve Jobs, has made synonymous with revolutionary new devices. Apple last introduced a new product category, wearables, in 2014 with the introduction of the Apple Watch.

The pandemic has helped boost sales of Apple’s legacy products. Students and employees who are forced to work from home found it worthwhile upgrading to the latest versions of their iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. Many turned to video games and subscriptions to the Apple TV+, helping to boost the company’s revenue by 33 percent to $366 billion last year.

On Monday, Apple tried to boost its Macs’ momentum by updating its most popular computer, the MacBook Air. The new version ditches a decades-old wedge-shaped chassis in favor of a slim, rectangular laptop. The computer is available in a variety of colors including silver, space grey, gold and dark blue. The new model is 20 percent smaller than its predecessor and weighs 2.7 pounds, the company said.

The MacBook Air is equipped with Apple’s latest processor, the M2, which the company says offers better performance while using 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 Activity. With the new software, iPhone users can create custom lock screens for different purposes – for example, a work screen that shows a preview of a calendar, or a personal screen that shows data about exercise activities.

The new software features that are part of Apple’s new iOS 16 operating system for iPhones mirror those that Google rolled out for its Android system in 2021. Google developed Material You, an offering that allows users to change the look of their lock screens by dragging colors into their home screen wallpapers.

In addition to these updates, Apple announced that it is overhauling its messaging system to allow users to retrieve and edit texts after they’ve been sent. There’s also a new way to compose messages, fluidly switching between typing text and dictating voice notes.

The company’s effort to expand beyond its existing businesses also extends to new software for the iPad. It showcased new workplace collaboration tools called Freeform, which allow colleagues across devices to brainstorm at the same time. The feature, similar to what Microsoft and Google are offering, has the potential to increase the value of the iPad for businesses.

Apple has also unveiled software updates for its smartwatch, allowing runners to monitor their gait – potentially forgoing working with trainers – and helping 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 Bay Area’s rising coronavirus cases, the company set up screens and chairs outside the cafeteria at the heart of its $5 billion campus, Apple Park. Attendees included developers, journalists and retail workers, a group with which Apple is seeking to improve ties amid increased unionization.

Although the event focused on existing products, it scattered hints at a virtual reality product that the company hopes will be its next business-changing device. Apple said it’s making it easier for apps to use Siri by creating a shortcut that will allow apps to interact with apps via voice in future headsets, a person familiar with the project said. It also featured a demonstration of a new Resident Evil video game with the kind of sophisticated graphics common in virtual reality games.

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

Your success is anything but guaranteed. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is struggling to expand the appeal of its Quest virtual reality headset beyond avid video gamers. Last year it surpassed about 10 million units sold, a small fraction of the 240 million iPhones Apple estimates have shipped.

Apple is struggling to convince developers to embrace its vision of a mixed reality world. In 2017, it introduced ARKit so developers could use the iPhone’s camera and motion sensor to start merging the digital and real worlds. However, according to a survey of more than 500 developers by Creative Strategies, a technology research firm, about 70 percent of Apple developers said they don’t use the tool.

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