Siri Shortcuts Offer Scope for Limited Spotify Interactions in iOS 12

Last month, when we asked MacRumors readers what they hoped to see in iOS 12, one of the most frequent requests was improvements to Siri, specifically Spotify integration. Currently, Siri can open streaming media apps like Spotify, but it can't play songs or video from third-party sources.

While Apple has yet to explicitly support the functionality, one of the components in the newly-announced Siri Shortcuts feature in iOS 12 could pave the way for Siri-controlled playback, should Spotify choose to implement it.


Siri Shortcuts lets users connect certain third-party apps to Siri to greatly streamline voice controls, allowing them to connect app-specific actions to an invokable Siri phrase.

As noted by TechCrunch, the Siri Shortcuts feature includes a "Play Media" intent that will let users summon audio and video media from third-party apps, and could theoretically be used to direct Siri on iPhone or HomePod to a designated playlist or artist on Spotify.

It's not yet entirely clear how deep this kind of integration can go, but it's likely to operate much less seamlessly than Siri controls for Apple Music. The Siri Shortcuts that Apple demonstrated during its WWDC keynote for instance were limited to sequential actions across apps, suggesting the "Play Media" intent is a one-off command that relies on specific pre-made shortcuts to playlists, artists, and the like.

Still, in theory, Siri could be used to play an artist or playlist from Spotify, and then the listener could use the standard Siri media playback functions to control the listening experience. But that's still some ways off Siri's existing integration with Apple Music, which extends to individual interface controls and even artist/genre queries.

The other issue of course is that it all depends on whether Spotify chooses to implement Shortcuts, but the new feature in iOS 12 is at least a positive sign that Apple is evolving Siri toward increased compatibility with third-party streaming services.

Related Roundup: iOS 12

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How watchOS 5 Brings Rich Web Content to Messages and Mail on Apple Watch

Apple's latest version of watchOS promises to bring rich HTML content to the wrists of Apple Watch users, thanks to new Webkit optimizations that improve apps like Mail and Messages.

Apple expanded on the new WebKit features at a WWDC session, in which it explained to developers how they can optimize web content for viewing on Apple Watch screens.


Currently in the watchOS Mail app, rich HTML messages are rendered in a text-only format and users are prompted to view the content on another device for the full experience.

Likewise, tapping a URL link received in Mail or Messages directs Apple Watch users to their iPhone to view the web page.

However, in watchOS 5, full HTML emails are capable of being displayed on Apple Watch in cases where text-only formatting can't express the content of the message, and users can also view web page links, as well as interact with them, albeit in a limited way.

For example, turning the Digital Crown on Apple Watch scrolls the HTML content vertically, or users can drag with their finger to move up and down the page, while double-tapping zooms the content in and out, similar to iPhone.

In a Force Touch addition, a firm press on the Apple Watch screen reveals back and forward buttons to navigate through your viewing history (swiping left and right does the same thing).


Apple says it achieved the WebKit optimizations by shrinking the 320-pixel display used by the iPhone SE to fit the 156-pixel width of the Apple Watch display, and then computing the initial scale of the page so that the content width fits within the smaller screen. Basically, this allows text and images to appear smaller while preserving the overall layout of the page.

Apple notes that the optimizations are aimed at quickly consuming content, so some features like video playback and web fonts aren't currently available. However, users will be able to interact with forms within HTML content, and there's also an Safari-like Reader mode, which automatically activates on text-heavy web pages (the Reader Mode option is also accessible via Force Touch, so users can choose to read pages on their watch with extraneous content stripped out).

watchOS 5, due for release in the fall, promises several other improvements and features, including Walkie-Talkie for touch-to-talk communications with friends, automatic workout detection, and updates to the Siri watch face.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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Craig Federighi Talks Bringing iOS Apps to macOS, Reiterates No Plans for Touchscreen Macs

In a new interview with Wired today, Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi discussed yesterday's WWDC keynote, particularly touching upon the company's years-long plan to bring some iOS apps to macOS. In a memorable keynote moment, when Federighi mentioned users constantly asking if Apple would merge iOS and macOS, a giant "No" appeared on screen behind him.

However, the company did detail a plan to take key framework elements from iOS and UIKit and adapt them for macOS, resulting in tools that will let third-party developers easily port iPhone and iPad apps to Mac in 2019. In the interview, Federighi again explained that right now the plan is not to build a single Apple Operating System, but to begin testing out the updated UIKit tools in its own apps for Home, News, Stocks, and Voice Memos, coming in macOS Mojave later this year.


Naturally, when news about iOS apps appearing on macOS emerges, people begin to wonder again about a touchscreen MacBook. Federighi quickly shot down that idea -- which has surfaced again and again over the years -- by saying he's "not into touchscreens" on desktop computers, and likely never will be. He also mentioned that Apple doesn't see touchscreen-enabled laptops as rivals.
"We really feel that the ergonomics of using a Mac are that your hands are rested on a surface, and that lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do," he said.

Federighi added that he doesn't think the touchscreen laptops out there today—which he referred to as "experiments"—have been compelling. "I don't think we've looked at any of the other guys to date and said, how fast can we get there?"
Back on the topic of the iOS/macOS update, Federighi said that instead of these tools being emulators, Apple's plan is building a software framework for iPhone that can be brought over to Mac and "made native" to Mac. Parts of this porting process will be automated, "like turning a long press on iOS into a two-finger click on a Mac," but extra coding is predicted for UI items like menus and sidebars.
Even though the apps are effectively being shared between operating systems, Federighi emphasized that your Mac won't start behaving like an iPhone. "It's still macOS, you still have the Terminal, you can still attach four monitors to it, you can still hook up external drives," he said.
In terms of potential games to make this leap, Federighi mentioned Epic's Fortnite as a likely candidate for porting, and he also stated that websites like IMDB, Yelp, and DirecTV could gain native desktop Mac apps. While these websites could have macOS apps now, the current toolset for developers is "just more work," Wired pointed out, and Apple's new UIKit update in macOS Mojave should make the process a bit simpler.

It's not currently clear when the new tools will be ready for third-party developers, but it appears it will take some time as Federighi suggested we will hear more about the project at WWDC 2019.


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iOS 12 Changes Hint at Redesigned iPad Pros With Face ID and No Home Button Coming This Year

Apple is rumored to be working on a new high-end 2018 iPad Pro that is said to adopt many design elements from the iPhone X including Face ID and the removal of the Home button, and several changes newly discovered in iOS 12 appear to bear out those claims.

As reported by MacRumors yesterday, Apple has tweaked iPad gestures in iOS 12 to bring them in line with gestures on iPhone X. For example, swiping up from the dock brings up the Home screen, as it does on iPhone X in lieu of a Home button.

iPad Pro with Face ID mockup by Carlos Guerra

Similarly, users now swipe down from the top right of the iPad to bring up Control Center, rather than swiping up from the bottom. This action was originally introduced in tandem with the iPhone X's notch, which houses Apple's advanced face detection sensors and leaves two "ears" on either side.

Likewise, menu bar changes to accommodate a notch can now be found in iOS 12's iPad interface – the time, day, and date are located on the upper left hand side of the screen, while the right displays the current Wi-Fi/LTE connection, Bluetooth status, and battery life.


Of course, it's possible Apple simply brought over the gestural and menu bar changes to iPad to create interface parity across its iOS lineup, but it's more likely Apple is paving the way for redesigned iPads widely believed to be coming later this year.

According to a November report by Bloomberg, the next-generation iPad Pro will feature slimmer edges, a faster processor, a custom Apple-built GPU, and a TrueDepth camera with support for Face ID. The new tablet device will reportedly do away with the Home button.

Well-regarded market analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also stated he believes new iPad Pro models set to be released in 2018 will come equipped with a TrueDepth Camera and will support Face ID.

There was some speculation whether Apple would unveil new hardware during last night's keynote, but that didn't happen, and we're now expecting the next round of iOS devices to appear in the fall. In the meantime, stay tuned to MacRumors for more details on all the announcements at this year's WWDC.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, iOS 12

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Apple’s iOS App Store Will Top $100B Paid Out to Developers This Week, Ahead of 10th Anniversary in July

During its WWDC keynote earlier today, Apple took a moment to celebrate the upcoming tenth anniversary of the iOS App Store, which opened to the world in July 2008. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that this week the App Store will hit its next major milestone: the money that developers have earned through the App Store will exceed $100 billion.


In total, Cook mentioned that there are more than 20 million registered third-party developers, and more than 500 million customers visiting the storefront on iPhone and iPad every week. Cook went on to say that over the past ten years, the App Store has enabled "countless new companies" and created "tens of millions of new jobs."
"This is beyond remarkable. The App Store is clearly the best place for you to be rewarded for your hard work and creativity."
In iOS 11, Apple overhauled the App Store with an all-new look that introduced editorialized content that points readers towards new apps and games each day. Next, Apple is bringing a similar visual update to the Mac App Store in macOS Mojave later in 2018.

There were plenty of other announcements that came out of Apple's WWDC keynote today, so be sure to head over to our recap post to catch up with the latest stories.


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Apple Shares Full Video of Today’s WWDC Keynote on its Website

Apple's WWDC keynote has wrapped up for another year, and the company this afternoon posted a full video of the event on its website. With the full presentation available on Apple.com, those who might have missed the event can now catch up with all of the announcements and reveals on their own time.

Apple typically uploads the WWDC keynote to its own website first and then shares the video on YouTube, but it could take a few days for that to happen if previous years are any indication.

Alongside the full keynote on Apple.com, both individual videos that bookended the keynote have been uploaded to the company's main YouTube channel. You can check out the videos below:

In addition to the videos posted online, you can catch up with every piece of WWDC 2018 coverage by checking out our full list of keynote highlights below. This list encompass all of MacRumors' event coverage shared today, from articles about Apple's announcements of iOS 12 and macOS Mojave to CarPlay updates, new Apple Watch bands, and more.

iOS 12

macOS Mojave

tvOS 12 and watchOS 5

Miscellaneous
We'll update this post throughout the day as new articles are posted, and later in the week once Apple shares the WWDC keynote on YouTube.


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Safari Browser in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave to Feature Enhanced Privacy Tools

Apple revealed today at WWDC that its latest version of Safari browser in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave will include some interesting new privacy tools.

When viewing sites in Safari, for example, "like" and "share" social media buttons that appear will be prevented from automatically tracking users when they're clicked on.

When users do interact with these buttons, they'll be shown an alert warning them that they may be tracked, at which point they can decide to keep their information private.

The upcoming version of Safari will also implement new security measures to prevent digital fingerprinting, flagging websites that digitally mine browsers for information in order to learn about users and how they browse the internet.

Safari will also prevent websites from harvesting form fields to capture information.

More to follow.

Related Roundup: iOS 12

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Apple’s Mac App Store Updating With All-New Design Inspired by iOS

Apple says that in 2018 it is "turning its attention" to the Mac App Store, bringing the desktop-based store more in line with the iOS App Store. The Mac App Store has been redesigned from the ground up, the company says, with a new sidebar that has Discover, Create, Work, Play, and Develop tabs.


Like on iPhone and iPad, the Mac App Store will have articles written by Apple editors to showcase useful apps and games currently popular on the App Store.

Users can still browse by Categories on a dedicated tab, and app pages now have more useful information like video previews and large screenshots. Ratings and reviews have also been made front and center.

The company also mentioned that Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Lightroom CC will be on the Mac App Store later this year.


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Apple Announces macOS Mojave With New Dark Mode, Desktop Stacks, Finder Gallery View, and More

Apple today announced macOS Mojave during its keynote event at the Worldwide Developers Conference. The latest version of the Mac operating system introduces a slew of new features, including a dark mode, dynamic desktop, desktop stacks, and more.

The new Dark Mode that touches almost every part of the OS, including System Preferences, Messages, Mail, Photos, Apple Music, and more. Developers will be happy to learn that the newest version of Xcode also supports the new Dark Mode.


Mojave's Dark Mode also includes a new Dynamic Desktop feature that automatically transitions the wallpaper of your desktop to match the time of day.

Meanwhile, a new Desktop Stacks feature is designed to keep your desktop more organized, as they can be arranged by kind, date, and tag.

A new Gallery view in Finder makes it easier to preview images, video, presentations, spreadsheets, PDFs, and more. It also includes a new sidebar that offers image metadata and Quick Action photo edits.

Elsewhere, a new feature called Continuity Camera also allows macOS Mojave to access photo shots and video captured from nearby iOS devices.


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Apple TV 4K Gaining Support for Dolby Atmos in 2018

Apple today announced that the Apple TV 4K will gain support for Dolby Atmos surround sound technology. When the update appears later in the year, iTunes will automatically update compatible movies with Dolby Atmos support for free.


With the addition of Dolby Atmos, Apple said that this makes the Apple TV 4K the only streaming box with support for both 4K and Atmos.

Other features coming to tVOS include "Zero Sign-on," so that if you're on your TV provider's broadband network, Apple will securely unlock all apps connected to a subscription service.

For the Apple TV's Aerial screensavers, you'll be able to tap to see descriptions of where each video was shot, and can swipe between screensavers. There will also be new Aerials of Earth taken from the International Space Station.


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