The first day of Apple’s annual WWDC developer conference is over, with the company announcing iOS 16 for the iPhone, as well as software updates for the Apple Watch, Mac and iPad. The developer conference is off to an interesting start with a long list of features coming to the iPhone and other Apple products later in the year. Although Apple didn’t reveal or tease the mysterious mixed-reality headset, it did announce the revamped MacBook Air with the M2 processor. Many of the announcements that were part of this year’s WWDC were already leaked or known in tech circles. But there were still a few surprises in store – ranging from the debut of the next-generation CarPlay to the ability to use your iPhone as a webcam on a Mac. Here’s everything we weren’t expecting at WWDC 2022.
Use your iPhone as a Mac webcam
Not sure why this wasn’t announced during the height of Covid-19, but yes, we liked the idea of turning our iPhone into a webcam. After all, laptop webcams are still terrible. Apple’s announcement that we will soon be able to plug our iPhones into Macs for webcam use was exciting no doubt. The best part is you don’t have to connect the iPhone to the Mac; the computer will instantly recognise the unit. You will, of course, need to update your iPhone to iOS 16 and Mac to the latest macOS Ventura to turn an iPhone into a webcam.
Hold on, there’s more. The feature will also let you use two of the iPhone camera lenses at the same time. One will be on the speaker, while the other can focus on something else. Apple calls it “Desk View,” to simultaneously show the user’s face and an overhead view of their desk. It’s great for doing unboxing videos. But to make this all work, Apple recommends getting a holder which is made by the accessory company Belkin.
Nobody thought that Apple would preview the next generation of its in-app car mirroring tech at WWDC. The all-new CarPlay takes the in-car interface beyond just displaying the information on your iPhone to the actual hardware integration with your car. The best part of the new CarPlay experience is how it adapts to multi-display dashboards and screens, depending on what car you own. The level of customisation features and the way you control your radio, adjust your AC and view car data like fuel level or speed shows how serious Apple is thinking about getting the software right on cars.
The first cars that support the next-generation CarPlay will be announced late next year. We still don’t know many details, but one thing is clear: Apple seems to be interested in proving its in-car OS to the leading automakers. Maybe someday Apple might want to make a car on its own. But for now, Apple is happy making the future cars from major manufacturers “connected” and “intelligent” with the help of CarPlay.
Freeform is Apple’s take on digital whiteboard apps
Whiteboard applications are hot right now, given so many people these days use a whiteboard for remote meetings, online collaboration and presentations. While we were expecting the iPadOS to get a big update, we weren’t aware that Apple was quietly developing a whiteboard app. It’s called Freeform, and it’ll be available on iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura later this year.
Freeform is essentially a note-taking app with collaboration features and native FaceTime integration. Users can drop-in notes, photos, doodles or PDFs and view others’ contributions as they add content or make edits. The best part: Free Form supports Apple Pencil when using the iPad.
A $200 price increase on the new MacBook Air
Let’s be frank: the refreshed MacBook Air looks stunning. A chunkier, squared-off look, a fanless body, a new 13.6-inch Liquid Retina Display and the second-generation M2 chip makes the new MacBook Air the coolest notebook in town. But the starting price of $1200 is arguably higher for an entry-level machine even if we add all the improvements by Apple.
That’s a lot more than you’d spend on the M1 MacBook Air that comes in at just $999. The $1200 price tag on the new MacBook Air kind of hints at the demise of a sub-$1000 Mac notebook that made the Air hit among students and average consumers. It’s a reminder that Apple has different plans for a MacBook Air.
Mac and AAA gaming
Perhaps the biggest surprise (and the least expected announcement) was Apple’s push to make its Macs true AAA gaming machines. At WWDC 2022, Apple discussed news regarding the Metal 3 update for Macs. The presentation clearly focused on letting developers know how they can take advantage of the Metal 3 and MetalFX Upscaling tools to optimise graphics, textures, frame rates, and loading times for the M1 and M2 architectures, offering a smooth, immersive gaming experience for Mac users.
It may look like a small step for Apple to dip its toes into the gaming world, but its impact could be huge if developers start supporting AAA titles for Macs. With No Man’s Sky, Grid Legends, and Resident Evil Village coming to Mac this year, “it’s a new day” for gaming on Mac. That being said, Apple still needs to figure out a way to make it worth it for developers to bring their games to the Mac.