IT Freedom Blog

Highlights from the 2018 Apple Product Announcement

by Jessica Baker on

It’s that time of year again, and no we aren’t talking about football season. The end-of-year technology announcements have begun. This season’s wave of new tech was kicked off by Apple on September 12, as they showed the world what they’ve been working on since last September. This announcement included new phones, watches, computers and operating system upgrades that we should all be on the lookout for in the coming months. A lot came out of the Steve Jobs theater this year (you can watch the full Apple 2018 Product Demo here) but we want to give a little overview of some of the new products and upgrades that are coming out, or have already been released.

2018 Apple Product Announcement

iOS 12

This new operating system upgrade was released on September 17, and I downloaded it as fast as I could, and honestly, if I hadn’t watched the announcement or done some research before updating, I probably wouldn’t have noticed a huge difference. Overall the biggest goal of iOS 12 seemed to be improved performance on a wide range of devices - and while my phone is pretty new, and wasn’t having many issues - it seems to accomplish that goal. While it wasn’t quite the flashy update we’ve all come to expect from Apple, it did introduce quite a few new helpful, but subtle features.

Notification Groups
This is exactly what it sounds like. Your phone will now group notifications in your notification center together by application. For example, all my emails are in one group, all my twitter notifications in another, and all my news updates are in another.

Screen Time
While I don’t particularly need to see how much time i’m spending on each app, this is a handy tool for parents. This allows you to see how much time is being spent on the device, how much each app is being used and allows you to set limits on certain apps. So if you only want your kids to watch shows on Netflix for 30 minutes a day, you can set the system settings to 30 minutes and as soon as they hit that they will see a screen telling them they’ve reached their time limit.

Do Not Disturb
This is yet another small enhancement to a current feature. With iOS 12 you can set time periods for your phone to be on Do Not Disturb. You can set it for an hour, 2 hours, or even have it sync with your calendar and set to DND for the length of the meeting on your calendar. It also gives you the ability to set it for a certain period of time during the day. So if you know you don’t want to be bothered from 6am to 10am you can go into the settings and have it automatically put your device in DND for that time.

MacOS 10.14 Mojave

In recent years Mac OS update announcements have been very different from iOS update announcements. They haven’t been as flashy, and usually just introduce something beneficial, but small. Nothing life changing, which may be why people to wait to update it for a long time (tip: stop ignoring updates, even if they aren’t flashy!), and this update definitely follows that pattern.
There are a lot of new features, but still nothing too drastic.

Desktop stacks
This feature helps clean up your desktop. Periodically we all have to do this, we have screenshots, downloaded documents, and random files that end up all over our desktop. With Stacks your computer puts everything related to each other in one place. To have your computer automatically set Stacks just right click and click “Use Stacks”. When I did this it organized everything by “kind” and moved the folders I already had on my desktop together in a nice organized column and then created three Stacks, one for PDFs, one for Screenshots, and one for “Other”. You can also sort them by date last opened, date added, date modified, date created, and tags.

Dark Mode
While it isn’t a big deal to some people, dark mode in MacOS has been highly requested. Yosemite made a small attempt at dark mode but Mojave actually does it right. The point of dark mode is to help you focus on the content in front of you. Now, if it actually does that i’m not totally sure and it’s probably dependent on the person, but it does give finder, system preferences, the app store, iTunes and notepad a very sleek new look.

Screenshots
Screenshots on your mac are going to look a whole lot more like the screenshots on your iPhone. Now after you take a screenshot it pops up in the lower corner of your screen and gives you the ability to quickly edit, save, or delete it and try again.
Just press Shift + Command + 5 and a selection box will pop up on your screen making it easy for you to highlight what you want captured, and gives you the ability to easily capture the whole screen as well.

Security
Apple is attempting to make some security changes by implementing intelligent tracking prevention in Safari. The goal of this is to make it harder for advertisers to target you based on previous website visits and searches. Apple is also implementing more permissions requests in their apps, to make sure you have the right to say no to certain things.

For more information on the increased security and privacy features check out this article from Intego.

Iphone Xs, Xs Max & Xr

The home button is gone for good. This years new announcement included 3 new iPhones all at different, yet still high, price points. The new phones all follow in the footsteps of the iPhone X, with a full screen display and no physical home button.

Iphone Xs & Xs Max
Unlike previous regular and “plus” phones that had a couple differences between the smaller and larger size these two phones are identical in everything but size. The major upgrades from the iPhone X are an improved camera, and the new A12 bionic chip. The new chip brings increased power, improved graphics, AR capabilities, and the ability for your phone to become more intelligent as you use it.

The Xs & Xs Max are available to buy today.

iPhone Xr
This is the cheaper (but still relatively expensive) iPhone to come out of this year’s announcement, and may be the route that many go considering the high price point of the iPhone Xs and Xs Max. The Xr reportedly offers a better battery life than the Xs versions and uses the A12 bionic chip just like the other new phones. So what are the other differences between the two? The Xr doesn’t have the dual cameras, and instead relies on software to create the portrait mode effect so many people love, it has a lower screen resolution (no OLED like the Xs and Xs Max), an aluminum body as opposed to steel, and no gigabit LTE (the iphone 8, 8+ and X don’t have this either, so unless you know you want it, you wouldn’t notice a performance difference in this aspect).

All the phones, the Xs, Xs Max, and Xr, look to be subtle upgrades over last year, and in my opinion many people’s decisions will come down to price, and how much they want the dual cameras. Considering the Xr hasn’t been released yet, it will be interesting to see how each performs in the coming months.

The Xr releases on October 26 for preorder.

Apple Watch Series 4

The Series 4 is changing the game once again, and has even my most Apple-averse friends considering the switch. Between the upgraded design and improved health and fitness features the Series 4 almost has it all.

Design Changes
The new Series 4 comes with a couple new design changes, including completely new sizes. The old watches were 38mm and 42mm, the Series 4 still comes in two sizes but those sizes have been increased to 40mm and 44mm. If you are upgrading and still want to use the watch bands you already have, the bands for the 38mm will still fit the 40mm and the 42mm bands will now fit the 44mm watch. Even though they are bigger in size, they have a thinner body, rounded edges and a nearly edge-to-edge display giving them a sleeker, less bulky look.

The new watches also have a new OLED screen and quite a few new watch faces, including a few that take up the whole screen. Like the one in the picture below called “Fire and Water”.

Apple Watch Fire and Water

Health and Fitness
The new health and fitness features are, in my opinion, the coolest part of the new Series 4.

The new watches will give you the ability to take a ECG (Electrocardiogram - which measures the electrical activity of your heartbeat) to help diagnose any heart issues or various other conditions. All the ECG data will be stored in the health app, where you can share it with your doctor to help them see what’s going on when you’re not in the office. Along with this the watch can also screen your heart rate to alert you if it detects an irregular rhythm, which could be a sign to call your doctor. Another awesome feature is its “Fall Detection” ability. Your watch can now analyze how fast/hard you fell and how far you fell, and will initiate an emergency call, and if you’ve been immobile for 1 minute it will use the SOS feature to alert your set emergency contacts.

If you use your watch for fitness tracking, you’ll never have that moment when you realize you forgot to start your fitness tracker again. The Series 4 will automatically detect when you’ve started a workout and will ask if you would like to track it. The new watch is also able to learn from your habits and patterns, meaning if you only workout in the afternoon, you may stop getting notifications to “check your rings” at 8am, and will start sending notifications based on your usual workout habits.

If you noticed above I said “almost has it all”...the battery life still leaves something to be desired, and doesn’t last nearly as long as other fitness/smartwatches on the market.


Now we know this doesn’t cover everything announced by Apple this past September, but these are going to me some of the most talked about. We want to know your thoughts and opinions on the overall announcement, and the new products and updates! Let us know in the comments, or on our Facebook or Twitter!

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