Skip to content

WWDC 2016 roundup: all the key announcements

So the opening keynote of WWDC has come to a close, and the monster two-hour presentation included lots of detail on four upcoming operating systems and a surprise new app, but no hardware announcements. There was a lot to take in, so let’s have a brief recap of the highlights:

iOS 10

Apple SVP Craig Federighi called iOS 10 “a big milestone,” and though there are only a handful of design changes there’s a lot coming with this landmark update this Fall. iOS 10 will be compatible with almost all the same devices as iOS 9 – everything save for the aging iPhone 4s, iPad mini 1 and iPad 3. The beta is available to developers immediately, and there’s a public beta due next month ahead of the full release in September. Here’s a quick look at everything new:

  • 3D Touch: more uses for the pressure sensing tech, including improved Quick Actions and Notification interactions
  • Siri: the biggest cheer of the night as Apple announce that Siri will be opened up to developers, enabling the voice assistant to integrate with third-party apps
  • QuickType: an intelligent keyboard offering context-sensitive suggestions like full email addresses and locations, plus multi-lingual typing without switching keyboards
  • Photos: lots of improvements here, including facial/object/scene recognition, and a new tab of “Memories” which automatically groups relevant media and can make on-the-fly video montages of them
  • Maps: more focus on proactive suggestions, an improved directions view and a new developer API to allow for third-party Map extensions
  • Music: a completely new look for Apple Music, for “better clarity and simplicity” following a lukewarm reception to the streaming service
  • News: slight visual redesign here too, with notifications for breaking news and the addition of subscriptions
  • Home: HomeKit finally getting some attention as Apple makes a unified app, Home, for dealing with automated smart gadgets in the home
  • Phone: voicemail transcription to read audio messages without listening to them, plus a VoIP API to integrate services like Whatsapp and Skype into the Phone interface
  • Messages: lots of changes here, mostly aesthetic – rich links, smart emojis, digital touch, and other stylized ways to chat, plus a new “app drawer” to house third-party message extensions
  • Privacy: a reminder that end-to-end encryption is “by default and always,” all data analysis is done on device and no user profiles are stored


Craig Federighi explains that the OS X name has been with us for 15 years, and it no longer fits in with iOS, watchOS and tvOS: so now it’s rebranded macOS. Oh, and this latest version is called “Sierra.” Like iOS 10, the beta is open to developers now and the public in July, before an official launch later this year. Here’s what to look forward to:

  • Auto unlock: skip typing your password when you launch your Mac, validating login with your Apple Watch / iPhone
  • Universal Clipboard: copy and paste seamlessly between devices, even between macOS and iOS
  • iCloud: cross-device document sharing, including syncing your Mac desktop to iCloud Drive for iOS access – because we all leave important files on the desktop
  • Pay: Apple Pay for the web is now a thing, using Touch ID on your iPhone to validate purchases made on the Mac
  • Tabs: every single multi-window app will now utilize tabs – and it will work out of the box, even without an update from developers
  • Siri for Mac! The biggest macOS announcement was made by Siri itself, as it comes to computers for the first time – it will sit in the top right of the screen and useful search queries can be pinned to the sidebar for future reference


Just a few updates to tvOS, but they should please users of the device:

  • Remote: the iOS Remote app has been updated to offer the same functionality as the Apple TV’s included Siri Remote, plus text input with an actual keyboard
  • Youtube: Siri can now search for videos hosted on Youtube, in addition to films and movies across its existing services
  • Single sign-on: sign into your Apple TV once to get access to all subscription-based apps and channels, without having to type your details individually
  • Dark mode: strangely, there was mention of a nighttime-friendly “dark mode” for tvOS, but not the expected mention of dark mode for iOS
  • ReplayKit: a new dev kit allows for live streaming of gameplay, and saved videos


No new Apple Watch hardware just yet, but Apple are cranking out the operating system updates: watchOS 3 looks set to make a suite of improvements:

  • Dock: launch apps quicker and easier by tapping the side button to launch a new dock
  • Control Center: the popular iOS feature makes its way to watchOS, offering shortcuts with an upward swipe of the screen
  • Scribble: reply to messages more specifically with a handwriting recognition function
  • SOS mode: when activated the watch will ring 911, message your emergency contacts and display your Medical ID on screen
  • Activity: the native fitness-tracking app of the Apple Watch gets sophisticated support for wheelchair users
  • Breathe: a calming new app literally tells users to remember to breathe – thanks for the tip, Apple!
  • Dev kits: new APIs to give developers more freedom on the watch, including media embedding, Game Center, CloudKit and much more