WWDC 2019 Event Recap

NOTICE AS OF 9/14/2020: This is a revised edition of the WWDC 2019 Recap video that we did years ago. For the website, we decided to convert it into an article only, along with adding some tidbits here and there to make it a bit more of an interesting read. Hope you guys enjoy this as we continue to make more content for both our website and YouTube channel. 😉


Hey everybody, Sage here, and today we’re going to be talking about some of the new stuff that Apple unveiled during their WWDC 2019 event.

Before we do cover them though, a few things to keep in mind:

  1. All Apple software developer builds were made available immediately to certified Apple developers following the presentation.
  2. All Apple software public betas were made available in July.
  3. All Apple software announced at the conference would be released to the public in the Fall.
  4. Finally, all Apple software has a focus on privacy protection, so I won’t have to keep bringing it up.

So without further ado, let’s get going…

Apple TV+ Update

Now before we get to the new products, Apple did recap a little bit of what happened during the March 2019 event, which focused more on their services: Apple News+ (their news subscription package with magazines), Apple Arcade (their gaming subscription service), Apple Card (their credit card service), and most importantly, their new streaming service Apple TV+ and its original content.

Speaking of Apple TV+, Apple announced one new show to premiere alongside the service: For All Mankind, a sci-fi show that “explores what would have happened had the space race between the Soviets and the United States never ended.”

The show was created by Ronald D. Moore, who also produced some of the newer Star Trek shows (The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager) as well as the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

tvOS 13

The first software product that was covered at WWDC 2019 was tvOS 13. This iteration of tvOS for both the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K has a few new features:

The home screen was redesigned, so it looks a little bit nicer. The Control Center includes quick access to the currently playing song, and on-screen timed lyric displays have also been added. Also (as expected), tvOS 13 adds support for the Apple TV+ streaming service, as well as Apple Arcade.

Speaking of Apple Arcade, tvOS 13 (along with all the other Apple software products that support Apple Arcade) now support the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 DualShock controllers. (They didn’t mention the Nintendo Switch Pro controller though.)

But the biggest feature was the addition of multi-user support, so you could have multiple user accounts on an Apple TV, including their own Up Next list, TV and movie recommendations, and curated music suggestions through Apple Music.

Finally, tvOS 13 adds some new underwater-themed 4K HDR screensavers, made in a partnership with the BBC Natural History unit.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

watchOS 6

So now let’s move onto the next major software product: watchOS 6.

watchOS 6 adds some new features, one of which are new watch faces: these include Gradient (left pic), Numerals Duo (center pic). a California dial (right pic), and a Solar dial.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

Another big set of features in watchOS 6 are the new apps added: An Audiobooks app (left pic), a Voice Memos app (center pic), and most importantly, a new Calculator app (right pic), which also includes some other functions, such as tip calculations and check splitting.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

But it gets better: watchOS also now has its own app store, so now you can download watch-only apps directly on the Watch, and without needing an iPhone. The watchOS app store also includes your basic store functions, such as search (using dictation, scribble, or Siri), screenshots, ratings, etc.

Now of course since we’re talking about the Watch here, we should also bring up some of the new health and fitness features. One of them is Activity Trends, which allows the user to track their long-term activity from their iPhone through the Trends tab.

There’s also a new app on the Watch simply called the Noise app, which as you would expect, monitors environmental noise, so if a decibel level is too high, the watch will notify you if it’s too loud.

Finally, there is a Cycle Tracking app, that’ll allow women to track their menstrual cycle, as well as predicted timing for their next period, among other things.

watchOS 6 is compatible with pretty much all of the Apple Watches out there (except for the original), which includes the Series 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

iOS 13

Now let’s move onto what was the biggest software announcement of WWDC 2019: iOS 13. There were a lot of features added into this iteration of iOS, so let’s get to it:

First off, iOS 13 has some performance improvements, so apps should launch twice as fast, Face ID should be faster to activate (30% faster according to Apple), and app downloads and updates are now packaged smaller than before. (50% and 60% respectively according to Apple.)

The first major feature of iOS 13 is a system-wide dark mode, so for those whose eyes can’t stand the light colors, there you go. It works on both the home screen (which also dims the wallpaper) and all of the built-in apps, and then some.

Another major feature is a redesigned Reminders app, which has a new user interface. According to Apple, the new Reminders app is considered “more intelligent than ever”, with features such as smart suggestions regarding when and where you should be alerted when you type in a reminder. You can also tag people in any reminder and it will show a notification the next time you open a messages thread with them. There’s also a new quick toolbar that makes it easier to add times, dates, locations, flags and even attachments to any reminder. Finally, the new Reminders app gains smart lists.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

Apple completely revamped the Maps app in iOS 13. The new Maps app contains some enhanced mapping data (see pic above), as well as the addition of Favorites, Collections, and Recently Viewed sections.

The biggest feature of the new Maps app however is Apple’s own version of Google Street View, called “Look Around”. To access this feature, you’d simply have to tap the binoculars icon in an area that supports it, and boom. Look Around also has a smooth zoom while navigating through that view.

When iOS 13 was released, the new mapping data was only available in select cities and states. The entire United States was set to be rolled out by the end of 2019, while select countries outside of the US would be available by 2020.

Apple is definitely stepping up their maps game with this one, and it’ll only improve from there.

Sage’s Fun Fact: DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine, uses the Apple Maps API for their maps functionality.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

The next major feature in iOS 13 is a privacy-focused one: Sign in with Apple.

Now you’ve probably signed into services with either a Facebook or Google account, right? Sure, it can be convenient, but it could also come at a cost of your privacy, such as customer data getting potentially sold to third parties, and let’s not forget about the tracking.

With Sign in with Apple, there’s none of that. It’s not only faster and easier to sign in (either using Touch ID or Face ID), but it’s also claimed to be completely privacy protected.

However, some apps may want your name or email to send you information. (And understandably so.) Using Sign in with Apple, the app can request that information, but not only do you have the option to share your actual email address, but you can hide it as a unique, random email address that forwards to your actual email address, and it can be removed at any time.

Now because of this, iOS app developers that already have a sign in functionality, will be required to implement Sign in with Apple in their apps. (Because, you know, Apple cares about your privacy.)

The Messages app didn’t really get that much of an overhaul, at least on the surface. But that didn’t stop Apple from adding some new features, such as sharing suggestions, so you could text photos to people based on who’s in the pictures, as well as the app automatically sharing a user’s name and photo (or a customized Memoji or Animoji), so the user could easily identify who’s in a Messages thread.

Speaking of Memoji, they’re also getting some major changes: New customizations were added, which includes makeup (such as lipstick and eyeshadow), headwear (such as hats), hairstyles, and accessories (such as piercings, earrings, glasses, braces, and yes, even AirPods.)

The Messages app also adds Memoji stickers for use with text conversations, which also means Memoji (along with Animojis) finally make it to non-iPhone X models with an Apple A9 or higher.

The Camera app also didn’t get that much of an upgrade either, but for those with an iPhone X-like model, portrait lighting was enhanced, allowing the users to adjust the intensity of a lighting effect by virtually moving light closer or further from the subject. A new portrait lighting effect was also added, called High-Key Mono.

The Photos app got some big changes: First of all, the photo editing tools were made a lot easier to use, and for the first time, they’re being brought to video, allowing the user to rotate a video, and even apply filters and effects to them, right in the Photos app. When it comes to photo organizing, a new browser interface allows the user to organize and search pictures more easily, and with advanced AI, create new layouts of multiple shots whenever you view them. The videos now play automatically upon selection, and duplicate photos, screenshots, and receipt pictures are also hidden automatically from the new browser view. As well as that, you could organize your photos by year, months, or days. The new days and years views allow the user to see a collection of images in a more organized, chronological manner, while the new month view organizes your photos into trips and events, among other things.

Some of the other major features in iOS 13 include a QuickPath keyboard (aka swipe to type), so you could use the keyboard with only one hand. The Mail app also gains rich fonts, and the Notes app gains a new gallery view, as well as shared folder support.

There’s also enhancements with the AirPods Integration: Siri will now read incoming messages as soon as they arrive and you can instantly respond using AirPods. They also gain support for audio sharing, so you can share audio with another user through AirPods.

For HomePod integration, it gains a new feature called Handoff, allowing the user to place an iPhone near the HomePod to “hand over” music, a podcast, or a phone call to the HomePod. The HomePod also gains Live Radio support.

Major changes were also made to CarPlay: A new dashboard interface allows the user to view music, maps, and others apps, in one screen. A new Calendar app was also added, and Siri now supports third-party navigation and audio apps, such as Google Maps and Pandora respectively.

Speaking of Siri, Siri Shortcuts is now built into iOS 13, and now supports Suggested Automations for shortcuts personalized for the user. As for Siri itself, it now uses a more neural text-to-speech voice.

Other features in iOS 13 consist of Low Data Mode, time-synced lyrics to the Music app, the ability to change the size of text and per-website settings in Safari, Voice Control (not the precursor to Siri, but an accessibility feature), a new Find My app (replacing the Find My iPhone and Find My Friends apps), and a redesigned, less-intrusive Volume Control interface.

iOS 13 supports the iPhone 6S or higher, dropping support for the iPhone 5S as well as the 6 and 6 Plus. It also supports the then recently refreshed 7th generation iPod Touch…but only just.

However, we’re not quite ready to hop off the iOS bandwagon just yet…

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

iPadOS 13

Much like with the previous release, iOS 13 is getting some new features exclusively for the iPad. However, it’s no longer called iOS for iPad, but rather iPadOS.

So what’s unique about iPadOS 13? Well, there’s a new home screen, with the ability to pin widgets on the left side of the screen.

Now while iPadOS 13 has most of the same features as iOS 13, including the new dark mode and more, it also has some iPad-exclusive features, some of which Craig Federighi described as “enterprisey”.

The biggest of them all was multitasking: You could have a second app window running on top of a full-screen app using Slide Over, and if you need to switch between those apps in that window, you can either drag an app from the dock to that window, or drag from the bottom of the app window for an App Exposé view. iPadOS also gains split view, multi-window support in apps such as Notes, Mail, Pages, and more.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

Another big feature in iPadOS 13 are the major enhancements made to the Files app: A column view, file preview, quick actions, and rich metadata were added from the macOS Finder. As well as that, support for folder sharing, SMB file sharing, ZIP files, and native support for USB drives and SD cards were added as well.

Some of the other major features in iPadOS 13 include Scroll Jumping, allowing the user to jump to a certain part of the webpage by tapping on whatever part of the scrolling area you’d like to jump to. The user could also now shrink the keyboard to a phone-sized keyboard, allowing for one-thumb keyboard operation. Multi-touch gestures for copy and paste were also added: A three-finger pinch for copying, and a three-finger spread for pasting. iPadOS 13 also gains better support for the Apple Pencil, with lower latency and a redesigned tool palette. Finally, Safari offers desktop-class browsing, along with a download manager, and new keyboard shortcuts.

Other features in iPadOS 13 consist of custom font support, and (as an accessibility option) mouse support, so you could now plug in a USB or Bluetooth mouse, and control the iPad using just that.

iPadOS 13 supports the iPad Air 2 or higher, dropping support for the 1st generation iPad Air, along with the iPad Mini 2 and 3.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

Mac Pro

So now let’s move onto what was another big highlight of WWDC 2019: a new Mac Pro.

It had been almost 6 years since the Mac Pro got a refresh, the last one being the infamous trashcan design. The biggest problem with that system: the lack of expandability, something that the original Mac Pro towers prior to 2013 had.

Well, Apple’s bringing that design back, and in a big way…

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

The 2019 Mac Pro brings back the cheese grater design, albeit a bit smaller than the original. It has stainless steel handles on the top for easy transport, and stainless steel stands on the bottom, which could also be replaced with optional wheels. The new Mac Pro is also rack-mountable, through a custom configuration.

The front of the system is nothing special, aside from the big holes for better ventilation. On the back of the system, there’s an AC power port on the bottom, and right next to it are two 10 gigabit ethernet ports. Moving towards the top are the expansion slots, which include two graphics cards consisting of 1 HDMI and 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports per card, as well as an I/O card, which consists of 2 USB Type-A ports, 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Looking at the top of the system again, there’s a little turnable handle that allows the user to open up the system, as well as lock it to prevent anyone from getting inside. There’s also an extra 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, as well as the power button and power LED.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

Looking inside the machine, the Mac Pro is heavily modular-based. There are a grand total of 8 internal PCIe card slots: 4 of them being double-wide, 3 of them being single-wide, and the last one being for the I/O card. 2 of these double-wide card slots have an extra set of pins next to the primary ones: Those are for the proprietary MPX modules for the graphics cards.

Above the card slots are an extra set of SATA ports, plus a USB port, on the motherboard. On the other side of the system are 12 DIMM slots for memory expansion, as well as 2 NVMe SSD card slots for storage expansion.

On the front of the system are a set of 3 fans as part of the new Mac Pro’s ventilation system, to not only keep the system cool, but also run rather quietly.

Specs-wise, the 2019 Mac Pro is a HUGE step up from the Trashcan: The CPU can be configured with up to a 28-core Intel Xeon processor, and can be configured with up to 1.5 TB of 2933 MHz ECC memory. (Perfect for running a crap ton of Chrome tabs.)

When it comes to storage, the system can be configured with up to 4 TB of flash storage, and is upgradable. (But since the new Mac Pro has a T2 chip in it, it unfortunately won’t work with any cheaper NVMe alternatives aside from the ones Apple offers, which are crazy expensive.)

For graphics, the Mac Pro can be configured with up to 2 AMD Radeon Pro Vega II cards, with up to 64 GB of video memory. As well as that, the system can also be configured with an Apple Afterburner accelerator card, which allows for decoding of up to 3 streams of 8K RAW video, and up to 12 streams of 4K RAW video.

And finally, to power ALL of these parts, is a 1.4kW (kilowatt) power supply.

The entry configuration for the new Mac Pro consists of an 8-core Intel Xeon, 32GB of ECC memory, an AMD Radeon Pro 580X with 8GB of video RAM, and 256 GB of flash storage. The cost: $5,999 USD. (And if you happen to max out the machine through build-to-order, the new Mac Pro could cost you as high as $53,000 USD.)

Overall, despite the insanely high price tag, the new Mac Pro is a major improvement from the previous generation, in terms of expandability and specifications. (And it’s obviously NOT meant for the consumer, but rather for the high-end pros.)

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

Pro Display XDR

To go alongside the new Mac Pro, you also have a new display: The Pro Display XDR. (Yes, Apple is coming back to the display market with a bang.)

Design-wise, the system is made out of the same material as the new Mac Pro, and the stand is highly adjustable: You can rotate the display to portrait or landscape, move the display itself up and down, and move the stand up and down as well (similar to the iMac G4, minus the swiveling.)

The back of the system consists of more big “cheese grater” holes for cooling the display, as well as 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a Mickey Mouse-style AC power port behind the stand.

Specs-wise, the Pro Display XDR screen itself is a 32-inch LCD Retina display with a resolution of 6K XDR (or Extreme Dynamic Range). The screen lights at an indefinite 1000 nits of brightness, with a peak of 1600 nits of brightness.

The Pro Display XDR comes in two different configurations: A standard glass model, priced at $4,999 USD, and a nano-texture glass model, priced at $5,999 USD. (The same price as the entry-level 2019 Mac Pro.) But there’s only one problem: That price is for the display itself. What about the adapters? Well, you have two options:

  • The first is a VESA mount adapter, for mounting the Pro Display XDR to walls and stuff. That adapter goes for an extra $199 USD.
  • The second is the adjustable Pro Stand, which is sold separately from the display. That stand goes for (and I’m not kidding here) $999 USD.

Now the price of the Pro Stand is rather ridiculous; you could even hear part of the audience gasping when that $1,000 price tag was revealed. This (of course) sparked a bunch of memes, one of which compared the price of the Pro Stand to a set of far more valuable items you could get for the same price. (see left pic) MSI even poked fun at Apple (probably unfairly) when marketing their 34-inch Prestige monitor. (see right pic)

A meme pic comparing the Pro Stand to a choice of 5 items price-wise. (Image Credit: Some guy on Reddit)
MSI mocking Apple and (probably unfairly) comparing the Pro Stand to their 34-inch Prestige monitor. (Image Credit: MSI Australia)

The pricing also gets even more ridiculous, when you try to buy the Mac Pro and the Pro Display XDR with the stand together, totaling the cost to as low as $13,000 USD for the complete set. Yikes.

But overall, aside from the pricing, the Pro Display XDR is a pretty advanced display and a perfect companion to the Mac Pro.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

macOS Catalina (10.15)

And now ladies and gentlemen, we move onto the final product announcement for WWDC 2019: macOS Catalina. Let’s take a look at it, shall we?

Now the desktop, aside from the new background, may look similar to that of the previous version on the surface, but it’s more than meets the eye. So let’s start off by talking about the first big change in macOS Catalina: iTunes.

Now as we all know, iTunes originally served as an organizer for your music: You’d simply buy a CD, rip the tracks to your library, mix them up in a playlist, and then burn them on a blank CD for personal use; it wasn’t really anything unique.

However, the introduction of the iTunes Music Store (later called the iTunes Store) is what changed the industry forever.

Before then, Napster had hit the world wide web, where people could download music digitally. But there was a problem: it wasn’t legal. (This is what would inevitably kick off the golden age of piracy, which is still a big problem in today’s world.) But after the iTunes Music Store came along, it offered a way for people to buy and download their music legally without any subscription fees, but at a cost of DRM and a price of $0.99 USD per song. (Apple would later remove the DRM on some tracks and offer multiple price points per song years later.)

iTunes itself would continue to expand in later years, adding the ability to sync with your iDevices, as well as the introduction of the Windows version (which is still available to this day). The iTunes Store also expanded with extra content, such as audiobooks, podcasts, TV shows, short films, movies, movie rentals, and more.

So what are they going to do now? Well, according to Craig Federighi, iTunes is going to add a Calendar, Mail, and the Safari web browser. And how are you going switch between all of them? Well, of course you’ll need a dock. NAILED IT! (Obviously this was done to poke fun at the criticism of iTunes being bloatware by some people.)

Well, as we all know, the team thought of something different… For macOS Catalina, iTunes was going to be split into three separate apps: Music, Podcasts, and TV.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

The Music app focuses on organizing and streaming your music, similar to what iTunes was originally made for. (see top left pic)

The Podcasts app focuses on organizing and streaming…well, podcasts. (see top right pic)

And finally, the TV app focuses on organizing and streaming movies, along with TV shows and such. (see bottom pic) It mostly functions the same way as the iOS version, even down to the Watch Now section. The TV app also supports various streaming services, including HBO, Showtime, CBS All Access, and of course Apple’s own streaming service, Apple TV+.

But what about syncing your iDevices? Well, that’s all done through the Finder, and instead of iTunes automatically opening up when you plug in your device to your Mac, you instead see nothing.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

macOS Catalina also adds some other new features, one of which is Sidecar, where you can use your iPad as an external display; it even works with the Apple Pencil. Sidecar also has Touch Bar controls, which can be enabled as an option (even on a Mac without one.)

The Find My app (which replaces both Find My iPhone and Find My Friends) finally makes it to the Mac in Catalina. It also has some neat features, like the ability to locate offline devices, using a secure Bluetooth beacon that can be detected by other Apple devices nearby, even ones owned by other people.

Another security feature in macOS Catalina is Activation Lock, designed to prevent anyone else from using your Mac if it’s lost or stolen. (This feature only works with Macs that have the T2 security chip.)

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

Another major feature in macOS Catalina is Screen Time, brought over from iOS. Screen Time in macOS offers the same features that the iOS version has, including parental controls and Downtime.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

But the biggest feature of macOS Catalina is Project Catalyst, where developers could create Mac apps based on iPad apps, without needing to do a complete rewrite. (These features were made available to developers immediately following the presentation.) One of these Catalyst apps shown off was the official Twitter app, based primarily on the iPad app.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

Games from the iPad can also be ported to the Mac thanks to Project Catalyst, possibly increasing the number of games available on the Mac platform. And as for developing user interfaces, Apple made some enhancements to Swift with SwiftUI, which made building UIs easier, thanks to less code.

Other features in macOS Catalina consist of the redesigned Reminders and Photos apps (with the same features from iOS 13), a new start page with Siri Suggestions in Safari, a gallery view in Notes, and Voice Control, an accessibility feature where you can control your computer just by using your voice.

But unfortunately, Catalina also removes some features: Dashboard, a widget desktop environment first introduced in Mac OS X Tiger, was removed completely in Catalina. As well as that, 32-bit app support was dropped completely, rendering some legacy Mac apps useless. (Apple also removed any 32-bit apps from the Mac App Store.)

macOS Catalina is compatible with the same Macs that support Mojave (Macs from 2012 or newer), except for the 2010 and 2012 Mac Pros, which Catalina dropped support for, regardless if you have a Metal-capable graphics card or not.


So that about wraps up our recap of WWDC 2019. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good presentation: Most of the products looked pretty enticing, Craig is still as funny as ever, and there wasn’t that many disappointing moments…aside from the price of the Pro Stand.

But in the end (compared to the previous events), it was (in my opinion) one of Apple’s better press conferences in recent years. (That was until WWDC 2020.)

So anyways, that concludes this recap on WWDC 2019. Hope you guys enjoyed this read, and as always I will see you all next time. Peace. 😉

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