Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) for 2018 kicked off yesterday with a keynote address by CEO Tim Cook and colleagues, and brought some big announcements from Apple’s software division. No new hardware was announced, and no new services were announced either – instead, Apple’s message this year was one of consistency and quality improvements, making improvements to MacOS recommended by their users, integrating experiences with iOS and macOS, and focusing more on the experience instead of shoving whatever they had through the door. Those announcements include macOS 10.14 Mojave, iOS 12, watchOS 5, tvOS 12.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that they’ve also dropped the uppercase letters in all of their software product names. It’s a bit weird, but makes sense once you’ve gotten used to typing it differently. macOS underpins the Mac platform because it’s the OS that makes it shine. The same applies for tvOS and watchOS. The idea is that the hardware isn’t the most important part of the ecosystem, because the OS will always be the main thing you interact with.
Named after the Mojave desert in North America, macOS 10.14 is a bit of a departure from Apple’s mountain theme for previous versions, but maybe that’s to signify that things are different here. Mojave introduces a number of new features such as a system-wide dark mode built on an API that developers can target to automagically produce a dark theme for their applications, a redesigned storefront that looks weirdly just like the Windows Store, more vertical integration with the gallery manager and Finder, and a few cool productivity tricks that make use of your iPhone to do things like directly scanning documents into macOS without fiddling with AirDrop.
The are some other features like a desktop files sorter according to filetype, as well as native support for iOS apps on the Apple Store. This works almost like Wine on a Linux desktop – macOS natively integrates some part of the UIKit that iOS developers use to design and scale user interface elements on iOS for different screen sizes. UIKit will, later this year, implement hooks into the AppKit API used to make macOS applications, and allow iOS developers to port over their apps from iOS devices to macOS. The system could also work in the reverse direction, but since most app development takes place on mobile platforms these days, this capability will probably be used for business applications that are ported to iOS. The first applications to use this new porting framework will be Home (an all-in-one interface for Apple’s Home kit), Apple News, Stocks, and Voice Memos.
At the same time, Apple also snuck in an announcement that starting with macOS Mojave, applications like games and 3D software that make use of OpenGL and OpenCL APIs will no longer be officially supported, as OpenGL/CL is now regarded as legacy software by Apple. Instead, they’d prefer if any new games or 3D-capable applications, like CAD or animation software, switch to using the Metal API instead. Software that relies on OpenGL will still work, but Apple won’t be actively developing it or porting new features to it from newer versions of OpenGL.
From a consumer standpoint, the rest of Apple’s software lineup, including watchOS, iOS, and tvOS, doesn’t really change that much. Apple announced mostly quality-of-life improvements for these platforms along with some new integration with their HomePod speakers, the Home automation kit, and macOS itself. The biggest change is Dolby Atmos support for the Apple TV 4K platform, which allows owners of 4K UHD media to properly configure their surround sound systems to support Dolby Surround. This makes the Apple TV 4K the only device on the market that currently is certified for Dolby Vision, the company’s HDR feature, and Dolby Atmos Surround. If you’re interested in seeing what changes Apple’s made to iOS, this MacRumours summary will bring you up to speed.