July 16, 2024

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My favorite iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and watchOS 11 features that popped under the radar at WWDC 2024

My favorite iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and watchOS 11 features that popped under the radar at WWDC 2024

There was a lot that Apple had to cram into its WWDC 2024 keynote, leaving some features out of the spotlight. Here on campus, I had the opportunity to speak with several executives, as well as dive into iOS 18, iPadOS 18, Apple Intelligence, watchOS 11, and more. In these sessions, I was able to learn more about how specific things work, like exactly what steps you take to customize your iPhone’s Home Screen and Control Center. I also got to see some other updates that weren’t mentioned briefly during the keynote, like new support for hiking trails in Apple Maps and what Training Load Insights looks like on watchOS 11. And of all the unmentioned features I came to discover, here are my favorites.

I’ve always been a fan of Google Maps, partly because that app had superior information compared to Apple Maps in its early years. These days, I stick to Google Maps because it has all the saved places and history. When I found out that iOS 18 would bring updates to Apple Maps, especially for hiking and routes, I was curious.

Basically, in iOS 18, when you go to Maps search, you’ll see a new option under Find Nearby called Hiking. It will show you recommended trips, and you can filter by trip type (loop, for example) and specify the length. You’ll find options in the vicinity and clicking on one will show you a topographical view with details of the hike and difficulty as well as the estimated duration. You can tap to save and store each track for later offline reference and add notes as well. There’s a new Library view and you’ll find it on your Maps profile.

You’ll also be able to create new routes in Maps by clicking anywhere to start mapping your route. You can continue clicking to add waypoints, which will cause the path to continue connecting them, and then press the Close Loop button to end the path. These routes can be shared, although it’s not yet clear if you can share them with your friend or driver, for example, to have them take your preferred route to your destination.

Two iPhones separated by the iOS 18 logo, showing Map and Notes respectively.

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The elevations that Apple will display in Maps are created by its own team, working with US national parks, so they will only be available for the country’s 63 national parks. In other words, information is not transferred from AllTrails, for example. in press releaseApple said thousands of trips will be available for browsing at launch.

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As a city dweller who only occasionally hikes, my excitement is less about hiking and more about the possibility of sharing my personalized routes to show people how they should walk to my apartment building or favorite restaurant from the train station. It’s a compelling feature, and arguably the reason I chose Apple Maps over Google Maps.

Honestly, the map update might be my favorite of all It wasn’t It was showcased during the WWDC 2024 keynote by a wide margin. But some of the new tools coming to Calendar also pique my interest. Specifically, the new integration with Reminders makes it easier to not only schedule your tasks directly in your daily notebook, but also check them from the Calendar app. You can soon move reminders by long-pressing and dragging them, so that the note to call your mom can be put somewhere at 5pm on Wednesday, instead of in the Reminders app. Additionally, the calendar gets new views that better show your activity level each day of the month, similar to how the fitness app quickly displays the progress of your daily episodes in the monthly view.

This wasn’t mentioned at all during the keynote, but it is there We are Details about how Tapback works were not described in yesterday’s presentation. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t even remember that Tapback refers to the interactions you can send in messages by double-tapping a blue or gray bubble. With iOS 18, you’ll get more options than just the limited selection of heart, thumbs up, thumbs up, haha, exclamation marks, and question mark. They will also appear in full color with the update, instead of the existing (boring) gray color.

But what I later discovered is that when you double-click on a message that already has reactions attached to it, a new balloon appears at the top of your screen showing who responded and with what emoji. This should make it easier to be in a group chat, but can also double as an informal polling tool by asking your friends to react with specific emojis to indicate different answers. This should make the messaging app more like Slack, and I hope Whatsapp and Telegram take this into consideration.

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There are a lot of features coming to iOS 18 that didn’t get a lot of attention on the WWDC stage, like the new Journal app widget for the home screen, which displays reflection prompts and lets you create new entries. Journal also has a new Insights view that displays writing fonts and other historical data, as well as a new tool that lets you add your state of mind to each entry from within the app.

Meanwhile, Safari is getting a new Highlights button in the search bar (or URL), and clicking on it will display a machine-learning-generated summary of the webpage you’re browsing. Clicking this brings up a panel with more information like navigation directions to a restaurant mentioned on the page, for example, or a phone number to call a business. You can also quickly launch Reader View from this pane.

I wasn’t too excited about either, largely because I don’t use the Journal app much and don’t need Safari to summarize my website. But some other buried updates I really wanted to shout out. For example, the Math Notes app for the iPad and the Apple Pencil are definitely getting a lot of buzz, but it wasn’t until I looked at Apple’s iOS 18 press release that I found out that the Notes app on the iPhone was also getting a copy. According to the screenshot included by Apple, it appears that you can calculate expenses and divide them among a group of friends by writing a list of expenses and the cost of each item, then adding the names of each account to a formula containing plus and equal signs, and then dividing that by the number of people in your group. not exactly splitBut I see this becoming more powerful over time.

I was also impressed by some of the Smart Script features on iPadOS 18, especially when I realized that you can just animate your handwritten words by dragging your handwritten words away from each other, and the rest of the scribbled text moves side by side. This is hard to describe, and I’ll wait until I can try it myself to show you an animated example. But it was impressive, even if it wasn’t very useful.

Finally, the Passwords app and other privacy updates were welcomed during the keynote, but I learned more about how things like setting up extensions and sharing contacts with apps work. Apple is launching a new set of accessory setup tools so device makers can adopt a pairing interface similar to how you connect your AirPods or Apple Watch to your iPhone. If developers don’t use this approach, the new Bluetooth setup interface will be clearer about what other Bluetooth devices are on your local network and what you’re actually giving access to when you agree to let an app see other devices on your local network. network. Although this wasn’t completely skipped during the keynote, the Passwords app is something that makes me happy, because I’m quite tired of having to dig around in settings to find a way to get codes for specific apps that I use my iPhone authenticator to open.

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There are a lot of features that were talked about that got me interested and learned more about how they work, including the new Dynamic Watch Style in the Photos interface in watchOS 11, Pinned Collections in the redesigned Photos app, and iPadOS clones for easier remote tech support. Oh, and the new Airplay feature that will let you send money to friends by linking your phones together? Yes! Are you able to pause and adjust your Activity rings in watchOS and see your training load? Thank God!

And while I can see the appeal of locked and hidden apps, I’m not sure I’d find much use for it, and it would likely exacerbate my already suspicious nature.

I’m also a little wary of things like Genmoji and Image Playground, both of which are Apple Intelligence features that won’t be coming to all iOS 18 devices. There will be metadata information indicating when images were created by Apple’s AI, and guardrails will also be put in place to prevent content from being created Abusive and exploitative.

There are clearly a lot of updates coming to Apple phones, tablets, laptops, and wearables later this year, and I can’t wait to try them out. The public beta should be ready by the end of summer this year, which is when most people (who want to risk an unstable platform) will be able to check it out.

Catch up here for all the news from Apple Worldwide Developers Conference WWDC 2024.

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