For Apple Maps, you’re treated to the new design that launched last year on iOS. Your favorite places are now a click away, you can create your own guides when you’re planning a trip, and you can use Apple’s Look Around feature to see what things look like on a street level, just like Street View on Google Maps.
Apple spent a good chunk of time in Monday’s presentation on improvements to Safari too. First, the company claims its browser is more than 50 percent faster than Google Chrome. It touted better privacy features as well: There’s a new privacy report button in the toolbar that lets you see how a site is monitoring your activity. Safari also regularly checks your passwords to see if they have been compromised.
Perhaps the biggest Safari news is that extensions are coming to the browser. They’re downloaded through the Mac App Store, and Apple says developers can easily port their existing extensions from other browsers. Access is a lot more restrictive though. You have the ability to choose what sites can be accessed by extensions, and whether the extension can access them for a day or for all time. Rounding out the feature list are translation capabilities for web pages and the ability to customize the start page with your own wallpapers and widgets. Tabs have also been redesigned to be a little more visible—particularly helpful if you have tons of tabs.
Seamless Device Switching Coming to AirPods
Senior firmware engineer Mary-Ann Ionascu announced some very cool new additions coming to AirPods via a future software update—no upgrade required. The most useful feature, especially for those of us with multiple iOS or Apple devices, is automatic switching. If you’re wearing your AirPods, you’ll soon be able to change your listening between devices seamlessly, without ever having to re-pair your pods. They even reroute audio to your phone if you’re getting a phone call, so it will still ring as normal.
Another exciting feature coming to AirPods is the addition of spatial audio. The software update will allow Apple’s devices to use their internal accelerometers to create a faux-3D soundscape. We’ve seen tech like this from brands like Audeze, JBL, and others, but it’s largely been geared towards gamers and hi-fi enthusiasts. The addition of spatial audio could create a whole new love of surround sound to the ears of more average listeners. The headphones will be able to simulate 5.1, 7.1, and even Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound.
Sleep and Handwashing Features for WatchOS 7
By increments, Apple is slowly turning the Apple Watch into the most comprehensive wearable available. When it ships later this year, WatchOS 7 will finally have something competitors have had for years: sleep features. The Apple Watch will soon get features including a wind-down routine to start locking down your phone before bed, sleep monitoring of “micromovements” as you breathe, a variety of wake-up alarms, and a Sleep Mode which dims the screen at night.
The Watch will also get a handwashing detector and countdown to make sure you’re sudsing off all the germs. (No word on if it will shame non-hand-washers into going back into the bathroom, though.) Other new features include new dance workouts and a plethora of new watch faces, including a tachymeter, large font faces, and new third-party and personalized watch faces. Finally, the Watch will also get a new battery notification when you wake up, because the battery life is still terrible.
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