Apple held WWDC23 last month, the annual conference for its developer community where it announced upcoming releases for its software platforms like iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, macOS, etc. Like every year, the company announced major features coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices, and also previewed new features and APIs that developers can take advantage of in their apps. However, this year’s WWDC keynote also had a “One more thing…” moment.
Apple made one of its most anticipated announcements in recent times at WWDC this year. The company has long been rumored to be working on some kind of augmented reality and/or virtual reality headset, and like most other Apple products, speculations were rife that this product was so ground-breakingly advanced that it’d shake-up the market. After many years of anticipation, rumors, and speculation, Apple announced the Apple Vision Pro — the most remarkable device to come out of Cupertino in the last decade.
All the product teams are excited to try out this amazing hardware, and have already begun experimenting with the visionOS SDK. We’re deeply enthusiastic about the prospects of this new spatial computing platform. Meanwhile, let’s talk about some of the other exciting new features and APIs that Apple announced at WWDC23 and how Readdle’s product teams are excited about them.
1. Interactive widgets on iPhone and iPad
One of our favorite announcements from WWDC23 is interactive widgets on iPhone and iPad. Although Apple’s platforms have supported widgets for a few years now, they were limited to only display information — to perform any action, you had to open the respective app. iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 will bring along support for interactivity. You will be able to tap and perform actions without opening the app.
“Our users love our widgets – they are fast, reliable, and very convenient,” said Eugine Plokhoj, Head of Product for Documents. “With iOS 17, we aim to make our widgets even more effective, allowing our users to play audio files or even start a VPN connection without opening the app,” he added.
Interactive widgets on iPhone and iPad will surely change the dynamics of many of your favorite apps.
2. Widgets on Mac
As excited as we are to bring some incredible interactive widgets to your iPhones and iPads through our apps, widgets actually got a much bigger spotlight on the Mac. Starting later this year on macOS Sonoma, you will be able to add interactive widgets right on your macOS desktop and interact with them, just like you can on your iPhone and iPad.
What’s more, Apple has built in some special Continuity magic into macOS Sonoma that allows you to bring the same widgets from your iPhone and install them on your Mac, without the need to install the corresponding apps on your Mac. For example, you can install any of the beautiful widgets from our Calendars app on your Mac and get a quick glimpse at your schedule. Think of all the incredible collections of widgets that you have on your iPhone today, you’ll be able to install them on your Mac too.
“Widgets, an integral part of the Calendars experience, bring valuable schedule information right to users’ eyes, eliminating the need to open the app. With the introduction of desktop widgets in macOS Sonoma, we aim to enhance the convenience for our busy Mac users, making their lives a bit more comfortable,” says Stan Gaidar, Product Marketing Manager for Calendars.
3. App Shortcuts in Spotlight
App Shortcuts are a great way to quickly perform certain actions and tasks that you find yourself doing repeatedly. Readdle’s apps already come with Shortcuts support to help your productivity. Using Shortcuts on iOS, you can create a new event or open day/week/month views quickly in Calendars, start a new scan or search for a document in Scanner Pro, control the VPN, play music, open recents or favorites or connect to your computer in Documents, or compose or search emails, open attachments, and even set Focus filters in Spark. There are so many possibilities to play around with.
Apple is now bringing App Shortcuts to Spotlight — making their discovery much easier. When people search for apps, iOS will automatically highlight the app’s shortcuts and allow you to run them with a quick tap. For example, you could search for Scanner Pro in Spotlight and just tap on the shortcut to scan a new document and upload it to your Google Drive.
Additionally, Apple has also introduced new natural language capabilities that will let people execute app shortcuts with their voice with even more flexibility. The Shortcuts app will also be getting a redesign to enable discovery of new app shortcuts.
4. AirDrop and SharePlay improvements
AirDrop is one of the best features of the Apple ecosystem, so if you haven’t already tried using it, here’s our detailed AirDrop guide to get you started. Apple is making major improvements to AirDrop and SharePlay in iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma.
One of iOS 17’s highlight features is an extension of AirDrop called NameDrop, the ability to share contact posters, phone numbers and email addresses with others by simply holding your iPhone near theirs. You’ll also be able to share content with someone nearby over AirDrop by simply bringing two iPhones close together to initiate the transfer, no unnecessary taps needed. “We love how easy Apple has made sharing the currently open document on iOS AirDrop, and we’re excited to bring this feature to our app.” said Sergiy Zadorozhnyy, Sr. Product Manager for PDF Expert.
Similarly, you’ll be able to instantly kick off a shared activity in apps that support SharePlay, by simply bringing the devices closer together. “Nearby SharePlay unlocks instant collaboration within Documents. We will make it possible for our users to use our professional PDF editor in collaboration mode, and we can't wait to see what new ideas will be possible thanks to this functionality,” said Plokhoj.
A new share menu in FaceTime and the SharePlay UI will make discovering SharePlay apps even easier in iOS and iPadOS. And apps that support SharePlay will now be able to rapidly transfer large files to everyone in the session.
5. It’s the little things
There are numerous other big and small features, changes, and improvements that Apple will be bringing to iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch devices with the release of iOS 17, iPadOS 17, macOS Sonoma and watchOS 10 in the coming months. Our teams have spent the last few weeks diving deep into Apple’s development documentation, WWDC23 videos, and working with the SDKs to plan the upcoming releases for our apps. Here are some miscellaneous things that caught our attention:
- Apple has made the dock on iPadOS work similar to how it does on macOS by allowing people to drag and drop files on app icons. Imagine the simplicity of just dragging and dropping a file you want to send as an attachment using Spark, or dropping a video file onto the Documents icon to extract its audio — pretty cool, eh?
- You’ll soon be able to use the volume buttons on your iPhone or iPad as the shutter button when creating a high-quality scan of a document using Scanner Pro or taking a photo in Documents.
- In Documents, you’ll be able to lift objects from images just like you can from the Photos app
- Our teams are exploring the TipKit APIs to enable consistent onboarding and walkthrough experiences in our apps, similar to what Apple does in their own apps.
- You may soon be able to insert iOS stickers as a stamp onto a document in PDF Expert.
- Journal API is one API that has grabbed our curiosity, but Apple hasn’t made the API available yet.
- and lots more that we can’t talk about just yet. ;)
6. Apple Vision Pro
Apple Vision Pro has been in the making for a long time, and Apple has put in considerable effort and resources to make it a reality over the last few years. So it’s no surprise how well received its announcement has been among the masses. It’s the company’s first real AR/VR device, and directly or indirectly, goes up against competitors like Meta’s Oculus Quest range, Microsoft’s HoloLens, Sony’s PlayStation VR, etc. Unlike all these devices though, Apple isn’t just placing the Vision Pro as a gaming-focused product but rather a “Spatial Computing” device. Just like Apple’s other products like the iPhone and iPad, Apple expects a large number of developers to build hundreds of thousands of apps for this platform.
While the device is initially launching only in one country (the US) and the launch is supposed to happen next year in 2024, Apple has released the visionOS SDK — a set of software tools to help developers start building and testing apps for it. Additionally, the company has also invited applications for developers to get some hands-on time with the actual device, to get a better sense of what it would be like to use apps on it.
At Readdle, all our teams are incredibly excited about the Apple Vision Pro. The platform presents a massive opportunity for our product teams to work together and shape the next decade for Readdle. Our talented designers and developers have been experimenting with the new platform and are excited about its possibilities.
“The team is excited about Vision Pro — Apple’s Vision Pro is a game-changer. It’s not just a new gadget, but a whole new way of interacting with technology. It’s exciting because it opens up new possibilities for apps. With a simple gesture, blink, or voice command, users can navigate through it,” says Olena Obilets, Product Manager of Spark.
She continues, “This isn’t just about using technology, it’s about living in it. It’s a big step into the future of the internet, transforming it from a tool we use to a space we inhabit. This could change everything - work, school, entertainment, and even how we socialize. It’s a giant leap into the future.”
Stay tuned to the Readdle blog and our social media channels so you can keep yourselves updated with any exciting announcements we make in the coming months. And if you too are excited about the prospects that Apple Vision Pro presents and want to work with us on the next big thing, we’re hiring.
Meanwhile, we’ve been hard at work preparing some amazing updates to Readdle’s apps, including some exciting new things for iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and macOS Sonoma.
If you haven’t already, head over to the Readdle website and take all our apps for a spin. We’re sure you’ll love them!