These big surprises blew our minds at WWDC22 | Cult of Mac

These big surprises blew our minds at WWDC22

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Apple's team of software wizards unleashed a torrent of welcome surprises in the WWDC22 keynote.
Apple's team of software wizards unleashed a torrent of welcome surprises in the WWDC22 keynote.
Photo: Apple
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Credit to Apple: The company managed to sneak some real surprises past the leakers and tipsters. Several reveals during Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote came as a shock to everyone. There’s a new MacBook no one was expecting, a way to use an iPhone as a Mac webcam, a huge revamp to CarPlay and more.

Also surprising were some things that didn’t show show up during the live-streamed event.

Here’s everything unexpected that managed to sneak into the WWDC22 keynote.

WWDC22: Surprise!

From great customization features in iOS 16 and powerful multitasking tools in iPadOS 16, many of Apple’s biggest software advances spilled prior to the event. New health and fitness upgrades in watchOS 9 didn’t surprise anyone, either.

But some really out-of-the-box new features – and some shocking omissions – made Monday’s WWDC22 keynote riveting to watch.

13-inch M2 MacBook Pro sneaks into WWDC22

WWDC22: The new M2 MacBook Air gets a MagSafe charger.
The new M2 MacBook Air is super-slim but still has room for a MagSafe charger.
Photo: Apple

While the new M2 MacBook Air dominated speculation about Apple hardware launches leading up to WWDC22, another M2 machine slipped in a side door at the event. Against expectations, Apple rolled out the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro with the powerful new chipset.

That means the world’s top two bestselling laptops – MacBook Air and MacBook Pro – both come with M2 chips now.

As for the compact MacBook Pro, it features more muscular performance, ProRes acceleration, up to 24GB of memory and and up to 20 hours of battery life. What’s not to like? — David Snow

No mention of AR/VR at all

Apple's new AR/VR headset and its realityOS may or may not debut at WWDC22.
There was not even an hint of Apple’s new AR/VR headset and its realityOS at WWDC22.
Photo: RendersbyIan

It’s an open secret that Apple is working on an AR/VR headset, even if it won’t admit it. WWDC22 was one possible place it could launch, but enough leaks said the headset is not ready that it wasn’t a surprise that the device didn’t show.

What is surprising is that Tim Cook and co. made absolutely no mention of augmented reality or virtual reality at Monday’s keynote. None. The developers conference seemed a good place to lay some groundwork for the headset, but the Apple execs acted as if they’d never heard of ARKit or anything related to it.

Looks like we’ll have to wait until later in the year, or possibly 2023, to find out more about Apple’s Next Big Thing. — Ed Hardy

Continuity Camera admits MacBook cameras need help

Craig using Camera Continuity on macOS
Camera Continuity came as a complete surprise.
Photo: Apple

After all the brouhaha about the subpar camera in the Studio Display, it was a surprise to see Apple bypass webcams altogether and instead use its clever Continuity system to bring great optics to video calls. Continuity Camera, a new feature coming in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura, uses your iPhone as a webcam.

Attach your iPhone to the top of your screen using a special holder (which will roll out from folks like Belkin later this year), and the Mac will use the iPhone’s cameras to make you look good.

Not only that, the iPhone’s camera lenses are wide enough to create two shots simultaneously: one of your face head-on, and another shot of your desktop that looks as though it is being filmed by a separate overhead camera.

The demo made it look incredibly good, and super-handy for all kinds of situations where you want to show someone something. It even has a Portrait mode for bad lighting situations that brightens your face and dims the background. And it all works without any extra software of hardware — which is another surprise. — Leander Kahney

Passkeys are coming to kill the password

WWDC22: Apple wants encrypted Passkeys to replace passwords.
Apple wants encrypted Passkeys to replace passwords.
Photo: Apple

Although both Microsoft and Google have talked about killing passwords, it’s surprising that Apple may beat them to it. The new Passkeys feature, which uses biometrics instead of passwords to log into websites and apps, may be in users’ hands by the fall. The new Passkeys system looks very good, and makes logging in easy and secure.

The system uses public-private key cryptography to create a unique Passkey for every website and app, after authenticating the user with Face ID or Touch ID. It’s secure from phishing attacks, server hacks and social engineering schemes, according to Apple.

Personally, I hate passwords and I can’t wait to see this roll out. My password-challenged family members will appreciate it, too. — Leander Kahney

CarPlay kicks into high gear

CarPlay kicks into high gear
CarPlay now feels like groundwork for an Apple car.
Photo: Apple

Another big surprise in the WWDC22 keynote was the all-new CarPlay, which doesn’t just add new widgets or features — it takes over the car’s entire UI.

The next-gen system, which will debut next year, is now fully integrated with all the car’s controls and interfaces. Users will be able to control the AC and seat heaters, and see dashboard gauges like speed, distance and gas. Some of the screens shown during the keynote show futuristic interactive screens that stretch across the entire dash.

It looks very, very cool. It’s also pretty surprising that automakers are ceding control over their interfaces to Apple. But CarPlay is already a must-have feature for most car shoppers, so automakers must feel it’s already a fait accompli. — Leander Kahney

Instantly erase backgrounds in your photos

iOS 16 feature WWDC22: iOS 16 makes it incredibly simple to remove the background from an image.
iOS 16 makes it incredibly simple to remove the background from an image.
Image: Apple

A new feature in iOS lets you instantly isolate the subject of a photograph just by pressing and holding. Then, the background disappears and you can drag your subject – a bulldog, in Apple’s demo – to other apps like Messages.

“It feels like magic,” said Robby Walker, Apple’s senior director of Siri and language technologies. “It’s actually the product of an advanced machine learning model, which is accelerated by Core ML and the Neural Engine to perform 40 billion operations in just milliseconds.”

It certainly looks fast and intuitive. Voila! Instant bulldog sticker. (Sorry, all you developers making cash off background-erasing apps.) — Lewis Wallace

Rebuilt from the ground up, new Home app rises at WWDC22

The Home app has been rebuilt from the ground up, Apple said at WWDC22.
The Home app in iOS 16 looks nothing like earlier versions.
Photo: Apple

Unexpectedly, Apple said at WWDC22 it rebuilt its Home app from the ground up. It’s coming to a smart home near you – hopefully yours – with the release of iOS 16 later this year.

Apple said it will be more efficient and reliable, especially for homes with many accessories. The app is reorganized to help you do more with ease.

And it will support the new-but-much-delayed Matter smart-home standard that may roll out around the same time, harmonizing home automation everywhere. — David Snow

Bonus: iPad finally has movable, resizable app windows

WWDC22: The Stage Manager feature introduced in macOS Ventura will also work in iPadOS 16.
It’s hard to believe this is real.
Photo: Apple

While there were a hints that movable, resizable app windows were coming in iPadOS 16, similar rumors had been around for years and always went nowhere. It was easy to think that another WWDC22 would come and go without this feature that so many iPad users have been hoping for. Especially as Apple waited until the very end of the keynote to make the announcement.

But no, iPadOS 16 delivers. Stage Manager lets you work with applications on an iPad similarly to macOS.

There’s also much more complete support for external monitors. Surprise! — Ed Hardy