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Apple WWDC: latest software features announced at the tech giant’s conference

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IF YOU were hanging out for a new Mac, iPad or iPhone, Apple’s latest announcements might disappoint this morning.

There was no new hardware announced at the tech giant’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference overnight, but there was almost overwhelming shopping list of software features revealed for phones, tablets, and computers, and Apple showed it wasn’t afraid to take its rivals head on.

Not only did the company reveal a new way to shut down Facebook tracking, but it unveiled a new battleground in its fight with Samsung and, perhaps controversially, a new way to stop you looking at your iPhone so often.

Apple’s top executives made the announcements in a keynote speech that lasted more than two hours, and these were the highlights.

In an unusual move, and following criticism from two major shareholders, Apple will launch new controls and reports to help users limit the amount of time they spend staring at their smartphones.

The largest addition to this effort will be an app called Screen Time that tracks how often you use and unlock the phone, among other things, and sends you a weekly “activity summary” showing how you used your iPhone or iPad.

“You get deep insight on how much time you’re spending, where your spending it, and even how your time breaks down during the day and the night,” Mr Federighi said.

“You get a summary of the time you’re spending in apps... how often per hour you’re picking up your phone and what’s drawing you in, and what apps are sending you the most notifications. Equipped with this insight, you can make decisions about how much time you want to spend with your device each day.”

Perhaps more importantly for parents, they can also set up their children’s phones to receive reports on phone usage, and set “Allowances” for time spent in individual apps, or specify what times of the day and what type of apps they can use.

All users can also set App Timers for themselves — allowing just one hour per day for viewing photos on Instagram, for example — and will be reminded five minutes before their daily limit runs out.


Updates to Apple’s voice assistant, Siri, were widely tipped before the event, though the company stopped short of delivering a major reinvention of the almost seven-year-old creation.

Instead, the company will revamp Siri with “Shortcuts,” which can either guess what you’re looking for based on your daily habits, similar to Google Assistant, or be created by users.

Mr Federighi said the Siri app would use machine-learning, based on the iPhone or iPad itself, to identify a user’s habits and suggest apps, settings, or transactions based on their regular behaviour.

“Say you’re running late for a meeting, Siri will suggest you text the meeting organiser,” he said. “Or when you go to the movies, it will suggest you turn on Do Not Disturb. And it will remind you to call Grandma on her birthday. Just tap and it will dial the call for you.”

Users will also be able to create customised Siri Shortcuts for themselves, saying “I lost my keys,” for example, to activate the Bluetooth tracking device on their car keys, or “I’m going home” to automatically turn on the lights in their home, estimate traffic on their route, and start playing their favourite podcast.


Samsung won’t be the only smartphone company letting users create emoji that looks like them — Apple will do it in a new creation called ‘MeMoji’.

While the new feature doesn’t scan your face to create a wide-eyed cartoon in your likeness, like its South Koran rival, Apple promises MeMoji will come with “an incredibly diverse” range of options to represent all face types.

Weirdly, Apple also revealed it would introduce “tongue detection” to its Animoji app so users could stick an animated tongue out at recipients and, in a nod to Australia, would introduce a koala Animoji option in the new iOS 12 software, in addition to a ghost and a Tyrannosaurus Rex.


Apple revealed a host of software features across its entire range at the Worldwide Developers’ Conference, including Group FaceTime that will allow up to 32 people to take part in a video all at once, a new augmented reality app called Measure that can estimate the length of real-world objects, and Mac OS Mojave software that will come with Dark Mode and will introduce Stacks for the desktop, similar to folders.

Apple’s wearable technology will also receive dedicated exercise modes for yoga and hiking in its upcoming software update, as well as automatic workout detection, similar to Fitbit trackers, and a new messaging system called Walkie Talkie that lets friends send voice messages between Watches.


Apple chief executive Tim Cook has twice spoken out against the beleaguered social network recently, but this time it was software engineering senior vice-president Craig Federighi to deliver bad news to Facebook.

To wild applause from developers, Mr Federighi revealed Apple’s updated web browser, Safari, would no longer allow Facebook to track users across the web when they didn’t realise it.

“We’ve all seen these “like” buttons and share buttons and these comment fields,” Mr Federighi said, showing Facebook icons on the big screen. “It turns out these can be used to track you whether you click on them or not. This year we are shutting that down.”

Any Apple user who tries to select these items will instead be warned that their information will be shared if they continue, he said, preventing Facebook from tracking users without their consent.

In another significant blow to Facebook and other “clever and relentless” data companies, Mr Federighi said Apple would also be blocking some of Apple devices’ telltale characteristics, such as fonts and software plugins, that helped data companies construct a “fingerprint” for users to track their behaviour.

The Safari privacy updates will be available in MacOS Mojave and iOS 12 for Apple iPads and iPhones later this year.

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