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Glasses or not, this year's WWDC AR is . is about

Glasses or not, this year's WWDC AR is . is about

Generally speaking, Apple's software is great. Even as the company has spread its attention between more platforms than ever before — macOS and iOS and iPadOS and tvOS and watchOS and whatever software Apple's probably-probably upcoming car and it's almost certainly upcoming. Is. Build a headset for AR/VR - those platforms continue to be excellent. It's been a while since we've had Apple Maps-style failures; One of the biggest mistakes Apple now makes is putting the Safari URL bar on the wrong part of the screen too high.

However, what is born out of success and maturity is that Apple's software is finished - or at least very close. Over the years, the company's software announcements at WWDC have been almost exclusively iterative and additive, with some major ups and downs. Last year's big iOS announcements, for example, were some quality-of-life improvements to FaceTime and some new types of ID working in Apple Wallet. Otherwise, Apple mostly rolled out the new settings menu: new controls for notifications, focus mode settings, privacy tools — that sort of thing.

This is not a bad thing! Neither is the fact that Apple is the best fast-follower in the software business, remarkably quick to adapt and polish everyone's new ideas about software. Apple devices are as feature-packed, long-lasting, stable and usable as you'll find anywhere. Too many companies try to redesign everything all the time for no reason and end up creating problems where they didn't exist. Apple is nothing if not a ruthlessly efficient machine, and that machine is hard at work honing every pixel made by its devices.

But we are at a juncture in technology that will demand more from Apple. It's now quite clear that AR and VR are Apple's next big thing, the next supposedly earth-shaking giant industry after smartphones. Apple's headsets aren't likely to show up at WWDC, but as augmented and virtual reality come into our lives, the way we experience and interact with technology is all about to change.

Apple has been showing off AR for years, of course. But it's all shown in the demo, things you can see or do on the other side of the camera. We've seen very little from the company about how it thinks AR devices are going to work and how we're going to use them. A company that loves to brag about its input devices needs something new and a new software paradigm to match. That's what we're going to see at WWDC this year.

Remember last year, when Apple showed you could take a picture of a piece of paper with your iPhone and it would automatically scan and recognize any text on the page? Live Text is an AR feature through and through: it's a way to use your phone's camera and AI to interpret and catalog information in the real world. The whole tech industry thinks this is the future - that's what Google is doing with Maps and Lens and what Snapchat is doing with its Lenses and filters. Apple needs a lot more where Live Text came from.

From a simple UI perspective, AR would require a more efficient system for receiving information and completing tasks. No one is going to wear AR glasses that send them Apple Music ads and news notifications every six minutes, right? And full-screen apps that demand your sole attention are fast becoming a way of the past.

We might get some hints about what it'll look like: It looks like "use your phone without getting lost in your phone" is going to be a theme at this year's WWDC. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, we can see an iOS lock screen that shows useful information without having to unlock your phone. A more viewable iPhone sounds like an excellent idea and a good way to prevent people from opening their phones to check the weather only to find themselves in a TikTok hole after three and a half hours. , The same rumor goes for "interactive widgets," which will let you do basic tasks without even opening an app. And, if Focus Mode sparks some rumour—and especially if Apple can make Focus Mode easier to set up and use—it could be a really useful tool to have on your phone and your AR glasses. from may be necessary.

I also expect that Apple will continue to bring their devices closer together in an effort to make their entire ecosystem more useful and how they do it. With almost an entire line of Macs and iPads running on Apple's M chip — and perhaps an entire line after WWDC if the long-awaited Mac Pro finally appears — there's no reason not to share more DNA for the devices. Is. , Universal Controls, which was probably the most exciting iOS 15 announcement even though it doesn't ship until February, is a good example of what Apple looks like to treat its multiple screens as part of an ecosystem. If iOS 16 brings true freeform multitasking to the iPad (and boy, do I hope it does), an iPad in the keyboard dock is basically a Mac. Apple avoided that proximity; Now he seems to be embracing it. And, if it eventually sees all of these devices as companions and accessories to a pair of AR glasses, they'll all need to function well.

The last time Apple — hell, last time anyone — had a really new idea for how we use gadgets was in 2007 when the iPhone launched. Since then, the industry has been on a path of yes and no, improving and tweaking without ever really breaking away from the basics of multitouch. But AR is going to break all that. It cannot work otherwise. That's why companies are working on neural interfaces, trying to perfect gesture controls, and trying to figure out how to fit everything from translated text to maps and games into a tiny space in front of your face. 

How to appear How to display on screen. Meta is already shipping and selling its best ideas; Google is coming out in the form of lens feature and sizzle video. Now, Apple has to start showing the world how it thinks the AR future works. Headset or not Headset will be the story of WWDC 2022.

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