Apple used its worldwide developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose, Calif. Monday to preview the next major versions of its mobile and desktop operating systems. In addition to announcing that it would replace iTunes with 3 dedicated media apps, Apple also showed off a bunch of new products and features. Among the announcements, 3 stood out in particular: iPadOS, dark mode and sign in with Apple.
One of the more notable changes in Apple’s mobile strategy is that the company split its mobile operating systems, and is now developing iPadOS as a separate system for its iPad products. The first-ever version of iPadOS, which is expected to be released to consumers in September, will feature a simplified take on running multiple apps side-by-side, support for external thumb drives and desktop-style web browsing.
A dedicated iPadOS makes a lot of sense for Apple, as it allows the company to develop features for bigger touch screens without having to compromise on phone-friendly functionality for the iPhone, and vice versa. In the past, the iPad often felt like a second-class citizen, with features that made a lot of sense on the iPhone not quite working as well on the iPad.
iPadOS is also a sign for a renewed focus on the iPad as the future of mobile office work, and reflects a resurgence in sales Apple has seen ever since first introducing the iPad Pro in 2015.
Few things got as much stage time at WWD as dark mode, a new display mode for iPhones that is supposed to make apps more user-friendly in low-light situations. Dark mode is a key part of the next version of iOS, which is expected to be released in conjunction with the new iPhone in September, and is also available via iPadOS. Users can opt to automatically turn it on at sunset, schedule it for custom times, or switch on the fly via system settings.
Dark mode is available for Apple’s own apps, and the company is giving developers the option to integrate dark mode into their own apps as well. “Lets begin our descent to darkness,” joked Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi Monday.
The company showed off how dark mode looks like in a video:
Sign In With Apple
Apple is getting ready to take on two of its biggest rivals with a new feature that is meant to simplify identity management across apps and services: Sing In With Apple is essentially the company’s take on those ubiquitous Facebook or Google sign-in buttons that make it easier for users to sign up for new services.
Apple’s twist is a focus on privacy, with the company promising that it won’t use the login buttons to track users across the web. The company is also extending this more privacy-friendly approach to the services using those sign-ins: If an app or service requires a user to provide an email address, Apple will generate a custom pseudonymous email that users can delete at any time — making the addresses much less valuable for companies.
It’s still an open question how the industry is going to respond to the initiative, and what kind of carrots and sticks Apple may user to foster adoption. On the one hand, anything that simplifies sign-ups should be welcome news to developers. On the other hand, some may fear giving even more power to Apple, with the company already being a powerful middleman when it comes to in-app payments and subscriptions.