14 Compelling Features Coming to Apple’s Operating Systems in 2024

One more feature I like is the change to mail, to do the categorization Gmail has been doing for a while. I stopped using Gmail on the web (and the Gmail app on my phone and iPad) as my primary way to do mail a few years ago, but that’s one thing I miss from Gmail.

As for the changes to Siri, I likely won’t use them often either, but I’m glad these improvements will be there.

The Photos app on iPhone looks like a mess to me, losing the tabbed interface, but I’ll wait and see if I end up liking it. Filtering out things like screenshots and scans, though, I think I’ll like.

The small fitness changes on the watch (customize the move ring by day, take a day off activity tracking, training load and vitals) are welcome, but I’d still like the ability to customize sounds on the watch as we can on other devices.

My handwriting is very legible, so pencil recognition has worked well for me, but improvements are always welcome.

All the news reports I’ve seen so far are acting like Apple hasn’t been doing AI until now. What do they think “machine learning” is?

What I want to know is of what they announced, what’s just more machine learning and what’s totally new? The incorporation of LLM (large language models) and off-device processing?

Thanks for your great, insightful summary, Adam.
About “Passwords:”
It’s about time. I’m worried about the user interface, though. How will we mere mortals know whether it’s Apple Passwords “saving” our credentials… or 1Password doing so? When we next need to access those credentials (days, weeks, months hence) how will we know where to access them (Passwords or 1Password)? Will Passwords be capable of “sharing” its collection with 1Pasword to simplify/consolidate these for mere mortals?
Probably it’s too early for me to start worrying about this, but I already have a hard time (with tiny, unclear icons - like Apple’s “key” and 1Password’s round “lock”) distinguishing and recalling.
I can’t help thinking/speculating that Apple might have tried to buy 1Password to consolidate it all, but 1Password declined. So now we’ll have competing password interfaces, each with different - and ever-changing - features.

Yep…1Password is the one I’m still using although I am staying on v7 until it quits although other than the no DropBox storage all of the other issues I have with it are either solved (backups on user end) or minor (un-macos like interface mostly). However…since I use Secure Notes and Software licenses and the other features…unless Apple’s vision does all of that it’s a non starter…and we’ve never used the iCloud Keychain much or the Safari password features. Wife still uses Password Wallet and manually types passwords and refuses to something else and doesn’t sync her passwords between devices at all…she’s somewhat of a luddite in that regard.

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Well, apparently there is now a ringtone picker in watchOS 11, something that I didn’t notice being mentioned yesterday.

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I will be curious to see how well Messages via satellite works when both iPhones have no cellular service, as happens for me relatively frequently while working on trail races.

I assume you’re going to have to check messages manually by running through the satellite alignment process.

This expansion of satellite services is fascinating to me, as it’s a sign of how Apple can leverage its massive cash hoard to invest in satellite tech:

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My mom was a superb secondary school English literature teacher. She favored descriptive rather than prescriptive approaches to grammar and syntax, but I’ve always said that she never considered a sentence too long AS long as it maintained proper case, tense, and sequence of pronoun references. I worry that anything designed to replace ME and my idioms while “cleaning up” my prose will erase personality from written communications.

I also think that all the stuff related to single-use emoji design is really an attempt to make it so that users NEVER put down their devices, and that is really sad.

Grammarly (and I hope Apple Intelligence) does not replace me; rather, it suggests changes. I can accept or dismiss them, or I can accept them and then go through another revision round. I have final control and dismiss suggestions as often as I accept them.

My guess is that Newton handwriting recognition had licensed components in the underlying technology, combined with Apple tweaks and modules to improve it. Anything Apple did with handwriting had to contend both with untangling their own code from the licensed recognition engine, and with the cultural death sentence pronounced upon all things Newton by Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple.

Complete outsider’s perspective, of course.

I’d love to hear from someone within Apple about this, but my theories include:

  • Jobs killed the Newton and didn’t want to keep its tech around. But keep in mind that other bits and pieces of Newton tech did make their way into other Apple products:

    • The puff-of-smoke animation when removing something from the macOS dock (I really wish that would come back :slight_smile: )
    • Intelligent digital assistants, which sounds a lot like Siri, but without voice recognition. We know Siri was an acquisition, but it may well have been in part inspired by the Newton feature.
    • NewtonScript influenced the creation of JavaScript
    • The company that designed its processor (the “Acorn RISC Machine”) spun off its chipmaking techn into a company, ARM Designs. And as we all know, Apple Silicon is all based on ARM tech.
  • That handwriting engine was probably written in assembly language, given the relatively low performance of CPUs at the time. Or if not assembly (since hand-written assembly is painful on a RISC processor), then in C, and closely coupled with the hardware architecture, with little abstraction in between. It would be prohibitively expensive to try and port the code to iOS. So any migration of the tech would involve a completely new implementation based on Newton’s design specifications. Assuming there was good internal documentation for this tech.

  • There is no relationship between the two. I suspect today’s handwriting recognition is based on a neural net model that has nothing at all to do with Newton’s code-base. This is actually the explanation that makes the most sense to me.

See also:

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Probably the same way we do now. When I get to a password field in iOSx, the “Passwords” strip pops up and when I tap the button it asks whether I want to use 1Password or a stored password. Since I don’t store passwords in Keychain the choice is easy.

I think the key (so to speak) is going to involve paying attention to offers to store a password. Both Safari and Arc (using, I believe, still another password storage vault but I haven’t looked into it) do that, and it takes my attention away from what I’m doing as I think about the question and then say “no.”

Your speculation about whether Apple offered to purchase 1Password from AgileBits is interesting. Keychain has been part of the OS for a long time, so other than the interface I doubt there was anything there Apple wanted.

What has deterred me from just using Keychain was the lack of an everyday interface, and I’m glad Apple remedied that.

I won’t decide until I know more, but if there is no separate discrete password (as an option) to protect passwords, but instead you can access with just the device passcode, I’ll stick with 1Password for now.

Oh, none of what I said above is about moving away from 1Password.

Could anybody explain how the new iOS Photos works? For years the only sections I’ve been interested in are Recents (used to be Camera Roll) and Albums > From My Mac because the former is where I find latest additions that haven’t yet been imported while the latter is where almost everything ends up once I’ve imported recently taken photos to a specific album (or created a new one for them) on my MBP and then synced. What I hear now is that all this is apparently going away and being replaced with something that sounds like what is presently Library > All Photos. I’m sure there’s more to it. Anybody with hands-on experience care to report?

I imagine that it will be the same as other Continuity features (e.g. shared clipboard, handoff) and AirDrop: you’ll have to be ‘nearby’, presumably Bluetooth range which is what I think is used for initial detection. So unless the thief stays in the pub after stealing your phone, this is probably not going to help.

It only took Apple a few years to ‘catch up’ with the Newton handwriting recognition. They integrated Newton handwriting recognition in Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar in 2002. It was called Inkwell:

Inkwell, advanced handwriting recognition technology that is fully integrated into the text system so that all applications can take full advantage of it with an input tablet
Apple Introduces “Jaguar,” the Next Major Release of Mac OS X - Apple

I don’t think it ever really caught on, but it was present in the latest version of Mac OS X/MacOS for 17 years until MacOS 10.15 Catalina in 2019 removed support for 32-bit code. (Wikipedia links to the deprecation notice in MacOS 10.14’s release notes.)

In terms of the iPad, Apple introduced ‘Scribble’ in iPadOS 14 four years ago. That was apparently based on a completely new system, not an evolution of the Newton/Inkwell one: Craig Federighi Explains How Scribble Feature in iPadOS 14 Was Developed - MacRumors.

The handwriting features announced at WWDC look far superior to anything Newton or Inkwell ever achieved, and I can’t imagine they are based on anything related to the old Newton/Inkwell system. If it’s an evolution of anything, it will have been developed from the Scribble system.

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I watched the keynote again today to revisit the announcements. I skip the cruft which doesn’t interest me (VisionOS and anything to do with games).

In iOS, the Photos update looks interesting but as I’m not a big user of it on the phone I’ll reserve judgement. Maybe if it’s better I might use it more. Zero interest in the cosmetic changes or Messages emoji/effects. If they can bring satelite messaging to Australia I’d be mightily impressed. In the past two weeks I’ve been looking at Personal Locator Beacons for bushwalking and whilst I probably wouldn’t rely solely on my phone, having an additional service would be great. One wonders whether Apple could get into the satelite business and create another service for themselves.

As a heavy Apple Watch user the changes mentioned may be useful but I’m not sure if they’re compelling. I’d be far happier if they simply made a Health app for the Mac.

The iPad Calculator and Notes improvements look very solid. I’m a heavy user of Notes on the Mac and adding some features might make me use my iPad a bit more.

Sequoia was what interested me most. The expanded Notes capability is something I’ll almost certainly use, just adding the math capability is a big positive.

The trail routes in Maps is another I look forward to. Whilst it wasn’t announced, I’d hope this transfers to iOS Maps. As a keen bush walker this would be extremely handy provided it can work without a cellular connection - many of the places I walk have zero service so I’d need to be able to download maps.

iPhone on the Mac is cool, I think I’ll use this a bit.

The biggest for me is the Passwords app. I’ve been a 1Password user for many years and the move to subscription pushed me to look at the alternatives - none of which I particularly liked. Even if Passwords doesn’t have all the features of 1Password, based on the screenshots it looks like it will have enough to finally see me move. Seamless sharing built into the various OSes is a bonus.

AI could be revolutionary, maybe not right away, but the mind boggles as to where it could go - Star Trek level automation!

I thought it was announced for iOS?

The DC Rainmaker blog talks about the changes to watchOS, including how routes are created on maps in iOS and synced to the watch. Scroll down a bit.

Quite possible I missed it, I was kinda skipping around.

Actually you’re right, I just watched again and it got a mention for a few seconds. It says all 63 US National parks are there and can be downloaded - let’s hope that spreads outside the US. Good news if it’s there, bad news if it’s US only.

I just listened to the latest Upgrade, and this was confirmed (needs to be in Bluetooth range). See Upgrade #516 at timestamp 1h59m34s.

Oh, Ghod, no! I found Gmail’s categorization to be a disaster, and I had to kill it to make Gmail on the web at all usable. Gmail categorization can’t tell bills or renewal notices from advertising. It’s like a very bad spam filter. During the pandemic I had to take over management of a small writer’s group and we almost lost our web side because Google stuffed invoices and renewals in one of the categories that had been hidden by the last person who used the group’s Gmail.

I agree that sorting incoming can be useful. I use it to a few mailing lists that I don’t need to check every day. Apple Mail has rules for that, and using them to sort on the mailing list code or organization name can be very efficient. Gmail’s categories just got in the way for me.