Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, starts up in just a few weeks on 3 June. That makes this time of year ripe for speculation about potential iOS updates, and while some years are pretty quiet, the rumour mill is already running hot for 2019.
Yesterday, Bloomberg dropped a truly impressive load of juicy titbits about what we can expect to see from iOS 13, macOS 10.15, and even watchOS 6. Overall, they paint a picture of Apple updating some core apps like Messages, Maps, and Reminders, while continuing its years long push into health. You could sift through the massive pile yourself, but here’s a rundown of the five most interesting rumours.
Apple cares about your ears and lady times
Apple’s Health app is meant to work as a hub for your steps, daily activity, sleep, and nutrition. Except it’s too simplistic for most self-quantifiers, and often relies on third-party apps for more complex things like tracking your reproductive health.
Bloomberg reports the Health app is going to get a new homepage design that “better outlines your daily activity”, but it’s also adding some new functionality. First, you’ll supposedly be able to track your “hearing health”, ostensibly based on how loud you play music on your headphones and the “loudness” of your environment.
This is interesting because it could give us a little hint into what Apple’s thinking about when it comes to future plans for its AirPods and Apple Watch. Given its health push with the Apple Watch in recent years, it’s not all that far-fetched to think it might give “hearables” a try. The AirPods are already quite popular, so one could imagine Apple rounding out its wearable offerings by adding some sort of health tracking to the Bluetooth headphones—and volume monitoring would be a decent start.
Like Santa, Apple will know when you’re sleeping
Apple’s Bedtime feature in the Clock app is also getting an update. While it currently lets you track when you fall asleep/wake up, the new Sleep mode will supposedly track “more extensive” sleep data and could integrate with the Apple Watch. This also tracks with recent reports that Apple has started testing sleep tracking on the watch itself.
That’s eye-catching for one big reason: It could hint at a better battery for the next iteration of the Apple Watch. That 18-hour “all day” battery has notoriously kept Apple behind other trackers and smartwatches who have been able to track detailed sleep metrics for years. After all, you can’t track sleep if your watch dies on you in the middle of the night. Investing in better sleep tracking and wearable integration might signal that Apple’s finally figured out a way to get true “all-day” battery.
Screw third-party parental controls—Apple’s got its own
The Screen Time feature Apple introduced in iOS 12 is also rumoured to get a new parental control feature. Mainly, parents will be able to limit who their children contact, and when. So, if you really hate that your kid is talking to that delinquent with the face tattoo from their geometry class, you could feasibly set their phone to only contact family after a certain time.
This adds some more colour on Apple’s recent decision to remove or impose restrictions on 11 screen-time and parental control apps from the App Store. It’s also highlighting a trend with all the reported rumours for iOS 13—Apple bringing the axe down on third-party competitors with its own native offerings of the same features.
Find my friends, find my phone, find my everything
With iOS 13, we could also see the Find my Friends and Find my iPhone services merge into one big app internally dubbed “GreenTorch.” That itself isn’t that mind-blowing, especially since it makes sense to bundle similar location-based features into a single app. What’s interesting is this 9to5 Mac report that suggests Apple might be interested in developing some new beacon-like hardware. By revamping these two apps, Apple could be developing a way to track non-Apple devices via your iPhone. Sort of like a Tile device, but for your backpack, keys, or whatever else you’re prone to losing.
We know iPhone sales are stalling, and speculation of whether Apple’s lost its innovative mojo is rampant these days. While it’s clear Apple is expanding into services, it’s at least worth an arched eyebrow over the prospect of Apple taking another whack at accessory hardware again (RIP AirPower).
Apple really wants you to use an iPad as a second monitor
Once you try a two-monitor work station, it’s hard to go back. And besides its main function as your grandparent’s favourite media device, the iPad sometimes feels like a rudderless tablet that’s stuck halfway between your phone and laptop. So it is a bit of an “aha!” to see rumours that Apple is planning a feature that would let you use an iPad as a second Mac screen, along with Apple Pencil compatibility. Bloomberg reports you’ll be able to draw with the pencil, expand the viewing area, as well as receive notifications. This also tracks with rumours that the iPad will get some feature updates, including an interface that’s better for multitasking, home screen tweaks, and the ability to “cycle through different versions of the same app.”
Again, this follows other rumours we’ve heard recently about Apple beefing up the iPad, including by adding mouse input support. All this would go a long way toward making the iPad the actual productivity beast Apple claims it is (but we know it really isn’t.)
It’s sort of a toss-up as to whether we’ll see all of these features announced at WWDC. Between now and 3 June, Apple could very much change its mind about some of the upcoming features detailed in the Bloomberg rumour dump. Or, if they’re not ready in time, we could see them rolled out much later in the year or perhaps sometime in 2020. In any case, feel free to sound off in the comments about what features you’re most looking forward to, or your opinions about the supposed iOS 14 codename, Azul. [Bloomberg]
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