As has been the trend in recent years, the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2023) keynote has kept its focus centered on consumers — read about that here. Announcements for enterprises were thin — watchOS 10 gets mobile device management support, Safari gets passkeys and profiles to keep work and home tabs separate … and that’s about it. If you’re writing software, the trend away from Intel toward Apple silicon continues, but given Apple’s policy on supporting older devices, we’ll probably see universal binaries for a while yet.
New APIs At WWDC 2023
Apple introduced several new or changed APIs for application developers. For software developers, these stood out:
- Gaming ports get easier. For macOS, a new gaming mode gives an app priority for GPU, CPU, and network performance over other apps. This may be useful for non-game apps that need the extra capabilities, as well. A Game Porting Toolkit may mean that we see more PC and console games show up on the Mac.
- Safari investment continues. After a long time languishing, the Apple Safari team has been working overtime to add features. New in Safari 17 is the ability to add web apps to the macOS dock with a click. Apple doesn’t require a service worker to install. Safari and Chrome are starting to align on installability, with Google’s experimental elimination of the service worker requirement for PWA installation on Chrome. Passkeys and profiles may interest enterprise users — it’s not clear how much separation there is between work and home browser tabs, but at least now there’s some.
- Widgets get overhauled. Apple’s widget system got a much-needed refresh everywhere. Widgets are (finally) interactive — even live on the lock screen on iOS. You can also share iPhone and iPad widgets with macOS via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi using the Continuity capability of macOS. This may lead to user confusion and support calls if you’re delivering widgets to both iOS and macOS already.
- Apple Watch sees an update. The latest version, watchOS 10, now has a new design language, and developers are encouraged to make use of the whole display. Workout APIs give access to high-speed motion data.
- Apple talks ML, not AI. Although Apple introduced several features that used machine-learning algorithms, they were careful not to call it “artificial intelligence.” Unlike Google, which featured generative AI front and center at Google I/O, Apple kept the focus on using ML to adapt to the user, rather than to create something for consumption by others.
One More Thing — That AR Device
By now, you’ve seen that Apple introduced the Apple Vision Pro, a (starting at) $3,499 augmented reality device. The device needs modular pieces, including add-on lenses, for each user — that makes it unsuited to multiple users at an organization. It seems aimed at those who want a personal device that provides multiple large-screen views. Many iPhone and iPad apps will work on it unmodified, and Apple says that it’ll add compatible iPhone/iPad apps to the Vision Pro app store — most of the focus at WWDC 2023 was on big screens in darkened rooms rather than on 3D objects.
Apple Needs You To Build Its Killer App
Beyond 3D movies and big screens, there’s not a lot from Apple to drive users to the Apple Vision Pro. Training and worker assist won’t get much traction: The device is too personalized for the enterprise. Apple has established a partnership with Unity and demonstrated Microsoft Office suite apps on the device. At WWDC, Apple has around 30 developer talks on spatial and immersive topics — including one on optimizing your website for spatial computing. Another talk, “Optimize app power and performance for spatial computing,” hints that Apple is pushing the limits of the hardware. Development won’t be trivial when you move beyond 2D.
Enterprises Won’t Be Lining Up
With the hardware demonstrated today, there’s currently no compelling reason for an organization to invest in a fleet of Apple Vision Pros for its employees. Apple said that app and website developers won’t be able to collect gaze information — but gave no indication about who controls the cameras, a frequent sticking point for organizations with trade secrets. Unlike the iPhone, the Apple Vision Pro in its current incarnation won’t be a status symbol. You can’t carry it around and subtly bring it out to impress other executives. This is the version for developers who want to get ready for the real thing.