For Apple, WWDC 2022 is all about augmented reality

Apple software is very good overall. Although the company has expanded its focus between more platforms than ever before — macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, whatever software Apple makes for its perhaps one-day car and the soon-to-be AR/VR headset — those platforms have persisted. in being excellent. It’s been a while since we’ve arrived Apple Maps style fiasco; Apple’s biggest mistake right now is on the level Safari URL bar mode on the wrong part of the screen.

But what all this success and maturity generates is the sense that Apple’s program is over – or at least very close. Over the past two years, the company’s program announcements at WWDC have been frequent and almost exclusively additive, with little significant fluctuation. Last few years Big iOS adsFor example, there have been some quality of life improvements to FaceTime and some new types of IDs that work in Apple Wallet. Other than that, Apple has mostly rolled out new settings menus: new notification controls, focus mode settings, privacy tools — that kind of thing.

That’s not a bad thing nor the fact that Apple is a top stalker in software, they are remarkably quick to adapt and refine anyone else’s new ideas about software. Apple devices are feature-packed, long-lasting, stable, and usable like anything you’ll find anywhere. Many companies try to reinvent 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 this machine is hard at work sharpening every pixel its hardware makes.

But we are at a turning point in technology that will demand more from Apple. It is now somewhat clear AR and VR are the next big thing for AppleThe huge industry that is supposed to be shaking the earth after the smartphone. An apple You are not likely to flaunt a headset At WWDC, but with augmented and virtual reality appearing in more of our lives, everything about how we experience and interact with technology must change.

Apple has been showing off augmented reality for years, of course. But all that is shown are demos, 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 augmented reality hardware will work and how we’ll use it. A company that likes to rave about its input hardware will need a few new hardware and a new software model to match. That’s what we’ll see this year at WWDC.

Remember last year, when Apple showed that 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 artificial intelligence to understand and categorize information in the real world. The entire tech industry thinks this is the future – that’s what Google does with Maps and Lens and what Snapchat does with its Lenses and filters. Apple needs a lot of where Live Text came from.

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Live text is an AR through and through feature.
Photo: Apple

From a simple user interface perspective, the only thing that augmented reality requires is a more efficient system for getting information and getting things done. No one would be wearing augmented reality glasses that send them Apple Music ads and news notifications every six minutes, right? And full-screen apps that require your individual attention will increasingly become a way of the past.

We might get a few hints about what it would look like: It looks like “Use your phone without getting lost in your phone” will be a theme at this year’s WWDC. according to BloombergFor Mark Gurman, we can see the iOS lock screen showing useful information without requiring you to unlock your phone. A more viewable iPhone seems like an excellent idea and a good way to stop people from unlocking their phones to check the weather only to find themselves deep in a TikTok hole three and a half hours later. The same goes for Interactive Widgets, which are rumored to let you do basic tasks without having to open an app. And if focus mode gets some rumored improvement—especially if Apple can make focus mode easier to set up and use—it could be a really useful tool on your phone and an absolutely essential tool on AR glasses.

I also expect Apple to continue bringing its devices closer together in terms of what they do and how they do it in an effort to make its entire ecosystem more usable. With almost an entire line of Macs and iPads running on Apple’s M-chip — and possibly an entire line after WWDC if the long-awaited Mac Pro finally comes out — there’s no reason why the devices can’t share more DNA. Universal Control, perhaps the most exciting announcement for iOS 15 even if it didn’t ship until February, is a good example of what Apple looks like to treat its many screens as part of an ecosystem. If iOS 16 brings truly free-form multitasking to your iPad (and I hope it does), the keyboard’s iPad is essentially a Mac. Apple used to avoid this convergence; Now, she appears to be embracing it. And if she sees that all of these devices are eventually companions and accessories to a pair of augmented reality glasses, she’ll need them all to do the job well.

Last time Apple – Hell, last time anyone He had a really new idea about how we used gadgets back in 2007 when the iPhone was launched. Since then, the industry has been down the ‘yes’ road, getting better, tweaking and tweaking without deviating from the basics of multitouch. But augmented reality will break all of that. It cannot work otherwise. That’s why companies are working on neural interfaces, trying it Perfect gesture controland trying to figure out how to display everything from translated text to maps and games on a small screen in front of your face. Meta already ships and sells its best ideas; Google is coming out with great Lens and Video features. Now, Apple needs to start showing the world how it thinks about the future of augmented reality. Headphone or no headset, that will be the story of WWDC 2022.

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