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Apple promises software updates, AI enhancements, and a fitness focus at WWDC 2024

Apple and OpenAI's new partnership is already paying off

iOS 18 on iPhone

WWDC has traditionally been a very software-focused conference, and 2024 was no exception. Apple announced a whole bunch of new operating systems that should add extra capabilities to iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

iOS 18 is set to hit the iPhone X and more recent devices sometime this fall. It includes a total rework of several apps, including the Photos app and how calls are handled. Multiple new customization options will also be present, allowing users to easily create custom backgrounds and adjust the color of app icons. AI is also set to be deeply integrated into the system.

On the Mac, a new OS named Sequoia also deeply ingrains AI into the Silicon Valley giant’s software offering. iPhone users will be able to mirror their phone on their Mac, window tiling has been made practical, and the device’s gaming capabilities have been expanded.

Vision Pro, the company’s long-awaited but receptively mixed XR headset, is getting the second version of its operating system. Finally, for wearables, WatchOS11 is set to bring new capabilities and some increased polish to the Apple Watch. The update will roll out to Apple Watch Series 6 and newer devices at some point this fall. Here’s a closer look at what all of that means for Apple’s customers.

Chat GPT is enhancing Siri’s AI capabilities

Apple Intelligence AI

“Apple Intelligence,” the company’s own acronym-sharing take on AI, promises to “combine the power of generative models with personal context to deliver intelligence that’s incredibly useful and relevant.” The new AI system has developed from Apple’s partnership with leading LLM company OpenAI, which was finally confirmed after months of speculation. Siri may have received the most noticeable boost, with Apple claiming the assistant will be “even more natural, contextually relevant, and personal.” Users can interact with Siri using text.

It’s set to appear across pretty much all of Apple’s current devices and can offer things like image generation, writing suggestions, and even mathematical calculations. Apple put a major emphasis on privacy, especially with regard to what user input will be used to further train its AI. However, there is some skepticism of this online. Particularly as the AI can recognize the faces of those close to you and pull details from things like your driver’s license. The exact input of OpenAI, a company that has had its own privacy controversies, is also currently unknown.

The Apple Watch gets a fitness-focused boost

Watch OS 11 screens

Exercise enthusiasts are likely to get the most out of WatchOS 11. The new operating system includes additional health insights, including the “Vitals” app, which displays detailed information on what is currently making you tick. This includes an “overnight vitals” screen, which should help pinpoint the cause of any sleep issues. Pregnancy monitoring features have also been enhanced, which seems like a plus for expectant mothers.

The standout WatchOS 11 feature is undoubtedly “Training Load,” which allows users to log how much they feel a workout affected them. Using this data, the watch can then estimate if the user is performing above or below their average. This is particularly helpful if someone is unwittingly throwing themself into a series of increasingly strenuous workouts. Working out harder than you should increases injury risk and recovery time, which can set you back greatly in the long run. The Apple Watch will be able to flag this and allow the user to adjust accordingly.

Beyond the fitness focus, the new WatchOS will provide greater customization options and a few safety features. One prominent feature is the ability to check in with certain contacts, letting them know you’re home safe or have completed a workout successfully.

In other wearable news, AirPods will get a few new gestures. Once the update hits the earbuds, less self-conscious users can accept or decline prompts by nodding or shaking their heads. “Voice Isolation” also promises to improve conversation clarity.

The Vision Pro is getting an update

Apple Vision Pro screens

Apple is updating its Vision Pro headset with the revamped OS, including new gestures, the ability to rearrange apps on the home screen, and a new ultrawide virtual display. New accessory options are also on offer, with the ability to pair a Bluetooth mouse with the head-mounted display standing out. There’s also a new travel mode coming, which may be of interest to anyone who has wanted to use their headset on a train or in similar vehicles.

The hit-or-miss headset is also coming to a few more countries, including Canada. Its initial launch, which was met with much hype and mixed reviews, was limited to the United States. The mixed-reality headset will be available for pre-order in China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore from June 13 and Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom from June 28. The Asian launch of the headset is scheduled for June 28, while deliveries will begin in Australia, Canada, and Europe on July 12.

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