Apple is taking more control of its iPhones, iPads and Macs


Apple is making changes to its iOS software to respond to long-standing requests.

Angela Lang / CNET

The tech industry often refers to Apple’s device ecosystem as a “walled garden,” an idyllic world of technology where each of the company’s devices works together because Apple controls complex details of how they work. In a few months, that wall will get a little higher.

Sometime this fall, the tech giant will launch iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and MacOS Big Sur, the software that powers your iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, respectively. The company has added new features to the software, which will be free to existing device owners, offering both convenience and an even bigger push to bring it even further to the world of Apple.

The “Sign in with Apple” feature, introduced a year ago, will connect more closely with apps to let you create accounts, sign up for new apps, and sign in to existing apps with your Apple ID. Apple also has a virtual car key feature that creates a digital key to unlock and start your car with just your phone. And if you want, you can share those car keys with friends through Apple’s encrypted iMessage service.

Speaking of messages, that app also has new features, making group chats more attractive by offering interlocking conversations like Facebook and Slack, as well as the ability to grab someone’s attention by typing in their name.

“Today, the world has all of us and the products and experiences we create to move forward,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said Monday during the keynote broadcast live at your company’s World Developers Conference, or WWDC for short. “We have not stopped innovating, doing the work that will enrich people’s lives for years to come.”

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Apple’s efforts to tighten connections between its services are nothing new, but the announcements the company made on Monday take that interoperability to a level that users have never experienced before. Apple’s efforts to control the experience on its devices has helped it build well-regarded software to power popular devices like Mac computers, iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. But increasingly, you must use Apple devices or risk losing many of the key benefits.


This could be the next key to your car.


At the same time, governments around the world have been questioning the ways in which the company exercises that power, which could exclude its rivals. The European Union has launched two investigations into how Apple treats external developers. Apple also hasn’t made key popular technology, like the iMessage encrypted chat service, available for phones with Google’s Android software.

Apple can mitigate that scrutiny a bit by quietly opening two key elements of its iOS software. Starting this fall, the company will allow you change the default email and browser on your iPhone However, Apple never mentioned capacity during the keynote, with the revelation on one of the presentation slides. Instead, Apple focused on all the new features its phones will have.

“Apple has always wanted to build this world in which people want to live,” said Bob O’Donnell, analyst at Technalysis Research. What’s unclear is whether Apple’s latest features are enough to convince people to just commit to Apple.

The number of people who have iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers is small, O’Donnell said, noting that many more people have an iPhone and a computer made by different companies. But as Apple continues to add features that competitors have had for years, like small apps known as widgets on their home screen or intertwined conversations in their messaging app, more people may be drawn to the company.

“You spend much of your time with these devices,” he added.

read more: Radical changes to the iPhone home screen are not enabled by default. What you need to know

Not just features

The biggest news from Apple’s event on Monday was not the new features for its iPhones, but rather the changes that came to the company’s Mac computers.

Apple said that starting in the fall it will start selling chip computers with similar designs to those of the iPhone and iPad. These chips, the latest of which has names like A13 Bionic, initially appeared on the first iPads in 2010. Apple said its current chips are more than 100 times faster than those original chips.

Beyond that, by building its own chips for its computers, Apple can further tweak its software to provide an optimal experience.

“Most importantly, this means that iOS and iPadOS applications will be able to run natively on MacOS in the future, which will make it easier for 23 million Apple developer partners to create applications on all Apple products,” he wrote in a note. Katy Huberty, analyst at Morgan Stanley. investors after Monday’s announcement.

For consumers, this means the opportunity to bring some of the apps they already use on their iPhones to Macs, giving them an incentive to look at other Apple hardware.

Future mobile

For years, industry watchers have wondered if Apple would eventually pair its ultraportable iPad tablet with the MacBook laptop. Apple has routinely rejected the idea, despite positive reviews for Microsoft’s Surface laptops, which popularized the idea of ​​a hybrid tablet-computer.

But with iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and MacOS Big Sur, Apple did indeed marry them anyway. By making your new Mac computers capable of running iPhone and iPad applications, there are few things that separate the Mac from its mobile cousins. The Mac has more storage and is designed to perform more advanced tasks, such as professional video editing and graphics design, but other than that, a touchscreen and a few additional ports are no longer so different.


Apple more closely connects your phones, computers, and tablets.


Apple even made this point by rebuilding its Maps Mac application using its iPhone and iPad application as a base. The company did the same with its Messages app. “It is a complete Mac application that runs natively and is designed in a way that is faithful to the Mac,” Apple’s chief software officer Craig Federighi said during the company’s presentation.

For Apple, tying their devices even closer together and building that ever higher wall is just the last way to ensure the best possible experience.

“From the beginning, the Mac redefined the entire computing industry. The Mac has always been focused on innovation and driving things forward boldly, taking big changes to stay ahead of personal computing,” said Cook. “We have not stopped innovating.”