For many Apple fans, the annual June Worldwide Developers Conference is a holiday fest of many, many new software updates that bring new features to their beloved iPhones and iPads.
To others, it’s an, “Oh no, Apple’s going to make me download this update and it’s going to destroy my phone.”
Just ask all the folks who saw their iPhones intentionally slow down, on purpose, with iOS 10’s update that tried to compensate for aging batteries. Apple caught a lot of flack for that once it was revealed at the end of 2017, apologized, updated the software and offered replacement batteries at a discount.
But here we go again, iPhone world. Monday, Apple will sneak peek many of the new features, via software updates, that will be coming to most existing iPhones and iPads, as well as the new models that will be out later this year. The software update, expected to be called iOS12, is traditionally released in September.
Some highlights of what to expect:
—Batterygate: This will be the first gathering where Apple CEO Tim Cook addresses the app developer community since the blow-up with the batteries last year. Analyst Tim Bajarin, the president of Creative Strategies, says Cook already apologized and “owns” the problem, but needs to “clarify” what Apple will do with iOS12 that can convince iPhone owners their units won’t become inoperable with an update.
—Siri.Apple’s personal assistant is the most used in voice computing, thanks to the size of the 1 billion plus iPhone owner universe, but it loses in accuracy in survey after survey to rivals Amazon and Google and their smart speakers. Gene Munster, an analyst and investor with Loup Ventures, expects Apple to once again showcase updates its making to improve the Siri experience. He predicts Apple will add more information categories to Siri for app developers both on the phone and the HomePod smart speaker, and have more artificial intelligence tools to smarten up Siri. “They have to open it up,” Munster says of the info disparity between Siri, Amazon and Google. “This is a painfully obvious hole,” for Apple.
—Augmented reality:The software update to bring animation into live action was a huge push by Apple at last year’s WWDC, but it has yet to take off. A few apps (notably the IKEA app that let you visualize furniture in your home before you buy it) got attention, but developers didn’t sign on in a big way. Bajarin expects Apple to double down on AR, showcase some new examples of great work, and try to entice the community to join in.
—Digital health: Apple is expected to introduce new tools to convince users to put their phones down a little more often, ones that tell them how much they’ve used the phone that day, or adjust their screens in the evening to be less addictive. “This will catch a lot of attention,” Munster says.
—Photos: More people take pictures on smartphones than cameras, with 1.2 trillion snapped in 2017, according to InfoTrends, mostly on smartphones. Which presents my plea: help me organize them! Bajarin believes Apple will spend a good deal of time at WWDC on new tools to find them. “You’ll see AI applied to the photo library to make it easier to organize,” he says.
In contrast to last year, when Apple introduced new iPads and Macintosh computers, this year’s WWDC is expected to be all about software, with little hardware announced. Apple is also expected to update operating systems for Mac computers, the Apple Watch and Apple TV.
The event begins at 10 a.m. PDT, and will be live-streamed on Apple’s website. USA TODAY will be covering, so stick with us for the latest news and analysis.
In other tech news this week
Uber, the ride-hailing company, said it was doubling down on self-driving tests, which will resume in the summer. They were halted after a fatal accident with a self-driving Uber in Tempe, Arizona in March.
Apple updated iOS with new tools for iMessages. Now you can sync Messages across various Apple devices in iCloud, which means you’ll probably want to upgrade your iCloud storage, which starts at 99 cents monthly for 50 GB of storage.
The FBI urged Americans to turn off their Internet router and then turn it back on to help thwart a cyberattack it says agents of a foreign government are launching against U.S. citizens.
Elon Musk didn’t like the review of a Tesla car in Consumer Reports. The publication didn’t like the braking system. Musk called and said he’d fix it, via a software update, within 48 hours. Which he did, and CR updated its review as well.
Alexa and you. Amazon records everything you say about the Alexa personal assistant, even beyond the commands. I show you where to find these recordings and how to get rid of them.
Politics and tech merged. Republicans complained that Google searches linked the California Republican Party to Nazism.
This week’s Talking Tech podcasts
Canon M50 camera, great for the Father’s Day vlogger: We reviewed the compact Canon M50 camera, and fell in love with the small size, (great for toting), the flip-screen (for vlogging) and higher video image quality than we see on smartphones.
Consumer Reports and Elon Musk: The Tesla CEO didn’t like his review of a new Tesla in Consumer Reports, so he called and said he could fix a brake issue—and used software to get it changed within 48 hours. Marta Tellado, CEO of Consumers Reports, tells us about it.
Code conference – Silicon Valley grows up. Tim Bradshaw from the Financial Times joins Jefferson Graham to report on the exclusive Code tech conference, where the recurring theme from Facebook, Airbnb, Snap, Inc. and other companies is that tech has grown up. Shiny objects are out, heat from regulators is in.
VidCon is coming: Jim Louderback, the general manager of the video trade show that attracts young YouTube fans, previews the show, which opens June 20th.
Photobombing Route 66: Who wouldn’t like this dream assignment? Take off down the open road of the old Route 66 with your wife, take photos and write a travel book about the experience. Photographer Rick Sammon fills us in, along with photo tips for making your travel photos stand out.
Social Media update #357: A tweet can get you fired. Just ask Roseanne Barr.
I listened to every recording Alexa made of me over 2.5 years. And it’s all there for you in the Amazon Alexa smartphone app. Creepy.
Steer clear of Google’s Back up and Sync. It’s evil. Google says it’s Back up and Sync tool is designed to make automatic backups from your computer to the cloud. But no, we say. It’s really meant to get you to fill up your quota and sign you up for expensive upgrades. You like waking up to a note from Google saying you can’t read your e-mail until you upgrade your plan? That’s what you get with Backup and Sync.