Apple Software includes everything from development software to operating systems. By controlling the hardware and software, Apple can make highly efficient programs and operating systems for its platforms.
● Software built exclusively for Apple hardware
● Optimizations and special permissions for Apple software
● Operating systems like macOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS
● Apps like Safari, Translate, and Xcode
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The operating system will now iterate its version number similar to Apple's other operating systems.
The next version of macOS will likely focus on platform stabilization and continued Apple Silicon optimization. The name is as much of a mystery as its features, but all will be revealed during WWDC in June.
Focus Modes get more powerful thanks to Focus Filters. Also, Apple pushes PassKey, Matter, and other new systems as the overall market launches those features in the fall of 2022.
The macOS Monterey update brings new social-focused features to the operating system. Apple also introduced a new Handoff feature called Universal Control that enables one Mac's mouse and keyboard to move between nearby devices.
Apps were also updated with new features and designs, like Safari with a new tab grouping system and FaceTime with a grid option for calls. The new "Shared With You" sections in apps show content that people have sent you in the Messages app.
macOS Big Sur
Apple built macOS Big Sur to be the transition operating system for Apple Silicon. It introduced new design aspects like rounded windows and squircle iconography.
This operating system brings optimized apps for the new ARM system architecture, universal apps, and better responsiveness across the board. Also, use your iPhone and iPad apps on the Mac when running an M1 processor.
macOS Catalina was the next step in Apple's modern initiatives to control the user experience from top to bottom. This update closed off more walls, built up more security, and offered more ecosystem parity across devices.
This update also ditched iTunes in favor of three new apps; music, podcasts, and TV. The Files app now handles local backup and syncing of iPhone and iPod devices.
A precursor to the Apple Silicon transition, Mac Catalyst allows developers to directly convert iPad apps into Intel-based apps. This option still exists for developers but is less likely to be used since Intel is on its way out.
The operating system for iPhone is called iOS. It was based on Mac OS X and built for touch.
Apps are distributed via the App Store, and Apple controls which apps are approved for sale. This method of software distribution has lead to many lawsuits and accusations of monopoly power.
Other rumors suggest more customization options are coming to iPhone, and Apple will continue to emphasize social.
Customization continues to be a theme as iOS 16 brings custom Lock Screens with automatic switching based on Focus Mode. Notifications get out of the way as the Lock Screen art becomes the focus, and Live Activities bring interactive widgets to notification blocks.
Focus Filters bring more control to what the user sees based on Focus Modes. And, Apple's social and collaborative features continue to be improved with tweaks across the OS.
Apple brought more privacy controls and social features with iOS 15. Users have control over which apps notify them or what people can contact them at a given time using Focus.
Apps will not only report what data they collect, but when they collect that data in a new privacy menu. This change gives users more understanding of which apps are abusing their access to location or contacts.
Despite being released during a global pandemic, iOS 14 delivered some of the biggest changes to the operating system in years. Home Screen widgets, App Library, and picture-in-picture were major debut features.
Apple added Apple Watch unlock when wearing a mask via iOS 14.5. The same update introduced the ability for Apple to patch security exploits without full operating system updates.
Apple forked iOS into iPadOS with version 13.1. Since then, it has added full cursor support, external storage support, and improved file system management.
The changes made by iPadOS strengthen the iPad and give users more versatility when using the tablet as a primary computing device. iPad-specific features include Scribble for Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard support.
Apple will reveal iPadOS 17 during WWDC in June. It could include improvements for Stage Manager and more social-focused features.
The biggest UI change ever for iPad arrives with iPadOS 16 called Stage Manager. However, it is limited to iPads running an M1 or better processor.
Other updates include similar ones seen in iOS 16 like SharePlay in iMessage and other collaboration tool improvements. Pro apps on iPad also get some customization options with editable toolbars.
Sidecar allows users to extend or mirror a Mac desktop on an iPad. It works in both wired and wireless modes. It also supports the Apple Pencil and provides essential Mac controls in a touch-friendly sidebar.
Apple TV has a dedicated operating system and software platform called tvOS. It is optimized for use on large screens with big icons and simple on-screen navigation. Siri acts as one of the primary input options for navigating content.
The Apple TV app is the center of tvOS and connects users to Apple TV+ and iTunes purchases.\
The tvOS 17 update will be announced during WWDC in June, even if it isn't mentioned in the keynote for a second time. New screensavers are a possibility, alongside a few minor user-facing updates.
There was so little change in tvOS 16 that Apple didn't even mention it during the WWDC keynote address. It contains support for Matter, which brings wider accessory types and universal support from other manufacturers to HomeKit.
Nintendo Joy-Cons also gained support in the OS. Also, the user switching UI in Control Center will show available users to add to the Apple TV.
Very little changed for tvOS 15 with added support for SharePlay and other social features. Media links shared via iMessage will show up in the Apple TV app and Apple Music in a "Shared With You" section.
Apple also included a new feature for smart AirPods switching on Apple TV. Now, if a set of AirPods are found active nearby, a menu will appear on screen to connect with a press of the TV button.
tvOS 14 was introduced in 2020 with updates to Apple Arcade and PiP support. The Apple TV platform is focused primarily on media, so user-facing updates are few and far between.
watchOS has evolved from an extension of iOS into a standalone operating system with its own App Store. The relatively new platform has seen multiple large revisions since its launch, and each update brings Apple Watch closer to becoming an independent device.
Rumors suggest that Apple could bring full-sized widgets to Apple Watch in watchOS 10. It isn't clear what these will be like beyond what is offered on iOS, but they will take over the Digital Crown button.
Updates specifically targeted at Apple Watch Ultra could also be coming. New fitness options and updated watch faces are also normal for these new operating systems.
Apple pushed readability and content for watchOS 9, providing more detailed, yet more readable, information at a glance. Three watch faces were added along with updated complication support for older watch faces.
A new Medications app was revealed for tracking medication, getting alerts, and knowing if drugs are compatible with each other.
watchOS 8 continued the trend of social-focused updates with improved typing and sharing options. Small changes were made across the UI to take advantage of larger displays.
New workout features were added for better workout identification and tracking. Also, the Breathe app became Mindfulness with more meditation options.
watchOS 7 updates include improved dictation and translation features through Siri, custom cycling directions, and the ability to share watch faces with others. Apple Fitness+ support arrived in the version 7.2 update.
Safari debuted on macOS in 2003 as the default web browser running WebKit. It is the default web browser on iOS and iPadOS, and developers are restricted to building browsers with WebKit on those platforms.
Apple builds Safari with speed and privacy as top priorities. Tracking Prevention is a built-in protection that keeps companies from following users around the web.
iWork is an office productivity suite consisting of three applications — Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. They replace the Microsoft equivalent apps Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, respectively.
Apple's productivity apps focus on simplicity and collaboration via iCloud.
Final Cut Pro
Final Cut Pro is Apple's professional-level, non-linear, non-destructive video editing software. It is optimized for the M1 processor and can edit videos up to 8K resolution.
Apple Health is an iPhone app that collects app and user health data in one place for easy viewing and metrics. Users can connect their health providers for even more health tracking features.
The Health app replaces many of the invasive apps that offer to track user's health. Apple's focus on privacy and security makes it the best place to keep such sensitive data.
HomeKit enables smart home developers to build devices that run within the Home app. Smart lights, locks, cameras, and more show up within the app for easy control and automation.
The Apple Wallet app is meant to replace or replicate many physical devices people carry. Apple hopes to eliminate the need for physical cards, keys, or passes by offering digital options, though it may take years for widespread adoption.
Apple introduced a native language translation app in iOS 14 called Translate. The feature uses on-device processing to translate text or audio between 11 different languages.
Translation features also exist within Safari and Siri. Previously, users would have to rely upon Google Translate or other services that had privacy implications.
Rosetta 2 is a stop-gap feature that translates application code on the fly. It enables Intel-based applications to be used on M-series Macs.
The M1 has been so efficient at performing this translation that some Intel-based apps work better on M1 than natively on Intel. Apple expects developers to transition their apps to M-series native since Rosetta 2 isn't meant to be forever.
Xcode is Apple's IDE, made for producing software on Mac for use on iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Free to download and use, the IDE is chiefly used by developers to create iPhone and iPad apps, as well as programs for the Mac.
While the software is free, participating in developer features like app submission and beta programs requires an active paid developer account.
Swift is an open-source modern coding language created by Apple, designed to build apps within the Apple, Mac, and Linux system. While based on Objective-C and other languages, it was designed to be more lightweight, more intuitive, safer, and easier-to-use compared to many of the alternatives.
Apple's gamified development environment, Swift Playgrounds, aims at teaching novice coders to comfortably be able to write in Swift. Available on both the iPad and macOS, the app is designed to quickly offer programmers feedback without the hassle of constant recompiling after tweaks and inspires experimentation through its approachable interface.
CarPlay allows users to connect an iPhone or iPad to their vehicle's infotainment system. Once connected, either wired or wirelessly, the device will show an iOS-like interface on an integrated display.
Apps like Apple Maps, Phone, and Messages will appear for easy access while driving. Third-party apps can also be developed for the platform, though it requires a special approval process.
Announced at WWDC 2020, CarKey will replace the physical key fob in modern cars. Unlock, start, and control your car via a built-in interface within Apple Wallet.
Users will be able to share keys with trusted friends and family members and set restrictions like distance and speed. The rollout of CarKey has been glacial as the car industry is slow to adopt new features.
Apple AR and VR
ARKit is Apple's software development kit that enables app developers to incorporate augmented reality into their apps. ARKit handles many of the tough tasks associated with AR, including detecting movement and the local environment, simplifying the process for developers to place virtual objects in an everyday scene.
Apple has shown some interest in Virtual reality experiences and hardware. While AR glasses are still years away, a VR headset could arrive in some form at any time.