CUPERTINO, Calif. — Greater than two years into the coronavirus pandemic, Apple made a giant push on Monday to return to normalcy by inviting a whole lot of software developers and journalists to its campus for an unveiling of a spread of latest software features that expand the iPhone’s utility.
Over a two-hour presentation, Apple revealed a buy-now-pay-later program that splits a purchase order over several months, very similar to programs offered by PayPal and others. It also said it was expanding the power to make use of an iPhone to unlock doors to apartments, hotel rooms and rental cars. And it introduced a version of CarPlay that will take over a vehicle’s entire dashboard, providing speed and fuel information in addition to maps and music.
Collectively, the brand new features show how Tim Cook, the chief executive, remains to be finding ways to expand the usefulness and longevity of Apple’s most significant product while wringing more sales out of it through features that thrust the corporate deeper into adjoining industries corresponding to finance, real estate and autos.
“They’re the digital control center, and so they are extending their reach as an increasing number of devices are digitized,” said Bob O’Donnell, president of TECHnalysis Research, a firm specializing in tech research. “Much of this will not be going to alter the world, but they’re enhancements that give slightly freshness that individuals appreciate.”
The software updates proceed a yearslong lull within the introduction of a latest product category from an organization that its co-founder Steve Jobs made synonymous with revolutionary latest devices. Apple last unveiled a latest product category, wearables, in 2014 when it introduced the Apple Watch.
The pandemic has helped increase sales of Apple’s legacy products. Students and employees forced to make money working from home found value in upgrading to the newest versions of its iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. Many turned to video games and subscriptions for Apple TV+, helping increase the corporate’s sales last yr by 33 percent to $366 billion.
On Monday, Apple looked to further the momentum of its Macs by updating its hottest computer, the MacBook Air. The new edition sheds a decade-old wedge-shaped case in favor of a slender, rectangular laptop. The pc is available in a mess of colours, including silver, space gray, gold and dark blue. The brand new model is 20 percent smaller than its predecessor and weighs 2.7 kilos, the corporate said.
The MacBook Air features Apple’s newest processor, the M2, which the corporate said offered increased performance whilst it required less battery power.
The corporate said it was bringing more personalization to the iPhone, with the power to customize the lock screen with colours, widgets and live activities. The brand new software will let iPhone users create custom lock screens for various purposes — like a screen for work that shows a preview of a calendar, or a private screen that shows exercise activity data.
The brand new software features, a part of Apple’s latest iOS 16 operating system for iPhones, mirrored those who Google introduced for its Android system in 2021. Google created Material You, an offering that enables users to alter the look of their lock screens by pulling from colours of their home screen wallpapers.
Along with those updates, Apple said it was overhauling its messaging system, allowing people to recall and edit texts after sending them. There is also a latest ability to compose messages by fluidly switching between typing text and dictating voice memos.
The corporate’s efforts to push beyond its existing businesses prolonged to latest software for the iPad. It showcased latest tools for workplace collaboration called Freeform, which allows colleagues to brainstorm across devices at the identical time. The feature, just like offerings from Microsoft and Google, has the potential to extend the iPad’s value to businesses.
Apple also unveiled software updates to its smartwatch that can allow runners to observe their gait — potentially forgoing work with trainers — and help people track the stages of their sleep cycle.
The presentation was the primary major event Apple has hosted on its campus in Cupertino since 2019. In light of rising coronavirus cases within the Bay Area, the corporate arrange screens and chairs outside the cafeteria at the center of its $5 billion campus, Apple Park. Attendees included developers, journalists and retail employees, a gaggle that Apple is desperate to improve relations with amid an increase in union organizing.
Though the event focused on existing products, it sprinkled hints of a virtual reality product that the corporate hopes shall be its next business-altering device. Apple said it was making it easier for apps to make use of Siri, making a shortcut that can make it possible to interact with apps through voice in future headsets, an individual acquainted with the project said. It also showed an illustration of a latest Resident Evil video game with the type of sophisticated graphics customary in virtual reality games.
The headset, which looks like a pair of ski goggles, will not be expected to ship until next yr due to challenges with battery power and performance, two people acquainted with the project said.
Its success is removed from guaranteed. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has struggled to broaden the appeal of its Quest virtual reality headset beyond avid video game players. Last yr, it surpassed about 10 million unit sales, a small fraction of the 240 million iPhones that analysts estimate Apple shipped.
Apple has struggled to steer developers to embrace its vision of a mixed reality world. In 2017, it introduced ARKit to permit developers to make use of the iPhone’s camera and motion sensor to start mixing the digital and real worlds. But about 70 percent of Apple’s developers said they didn’t use the tool, in line with a survey of greater than 500 developers by Creative Strategies, a technology research firm.