Alongside conferences like Facebook’s F8 and Google’s I/O, Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) unveils new products, recent software updates and its latest technology innovations. This year, in place of flashy new features and add-ons, the 2017 WWDC prioritized more practical and customer-centric updates for iOS11. Throughout the latest announcements, a common thread spanned across each debut: a focus on seamless, immersive and inclusive experiences.
This year, Apple also announced its strides towards make iOS11 more accessible for all users, ensuring that innovation does not remain limited to only a subset of the digital audience. In addition, new products such as the Homepod (Apple’s answer to Amazon’s Alexa) and ARkit— a software platform to develop augmented reality mobile apps—create a mainstream avenue for developers to marry innovation with the seamless experiences digital customers want.
Below are some focus areas of WWDC that may begin to carve a path towards industry-wide digital innovation:
- Prioritizing Inclusive Digital Experiences
Accessibility has always been an important aspect of design for Apple. “We don’t design products for some people or even most people,” reads the Apple website. “We design them for every single person.” Prior to this year’s WWDC, Apple products already featured many accessible capabilities that could be added as needed, in line with their mission of providing for all consumers.
For Apple, the 2017 WWDC was another opportunity to position accessibility improvements as a priority. With the new iOS11 comes improved accessibility features, such as communication with Siri via text versus just voice (created with the hearing-impaired in mind) or —for the visually impaired— the ability to save recordings of screen readings that can be referenced in their personal video files.
- Making Cross-Device Usage More Seamless
With the release of Apple’s updated iOS11 software, users can experience a more holistic, seamless approach to integrating devices. For example, the update will allow for the messages sent, received or deleted on one device to sync and be consistent on connected devices, even when all devices are not actively in use.
Beyond cross-device consistency, Apple will also be implementing an App Drawer that allows users to access different apps’ functionalities directly from iMessage. This not only makes iMessage a hub for a multitude of in-app activities, but eliminates the need to move in and out of apps to share content or send peer-to-peer payments. Today, smartphone users increasingly expect to “be able to accomplish multiple tasks that span multiple applications and data sources ...from one place.” With the latest iOS 11 updates, Apple is directly responding to customer demands for more efficient experiences.
- Driving More Mixed Reality Experiences
The augmented reality market is anticipated to reach over a billion users and $60 billion in revenue by 2020. Since the release of the popular AR-based game, Pokémon Go, there has been an overwhelming demand for more augmented reality in emerging technology. At this year’s WWDC, Apple announced its entry into the AR market with ARkit, the “largest AR platform in the world.”
For Apple, this will be the first time that it will support AR hardware and software. ARkit’s launch is poised to change the face of mobile experiences from gaming to shopping, creating mixed-reality experiences that are much more realistic and interactive. On a feature-specific level, this means —for example— that updates to the device camera will now allow users to natively scan images and read text in photos: as much an AR experience as it is another step toward accessibility and inclusivity.
At this year’s WWDC, Apple has positioned itself as a pioneer for transforming digital in an intentional and practical way, and is poised to lead an industry-wide shift toward digital innovation and inclusivity. More on critical announcements and takeaways from the 2017 WWDC here.