iOS 12, Marzipan, and the Future

In the weeks since Apple’s WWDC keynote presentation, I’ve been reflecting on what the announcements mean for Apple in the future and for me as a teacher and user of their products.

For those of you who don’t follow Apple announcements as closely as I do, Apple announced the latest versions of operating systems for their four big platforms: iOS 12, macOS Mojave, watchOS 5, and tvOS 12.

While it does seem like Apple slowed feature development a bit to focus on performance, there are several announcements that have me truly excited about Apple’s present and future.

Siri Shortcuts

My personal favorite announcement out of WWDC was Siri Shortcuts.

Shortcuts is a blanket name for 2 different facets of iOS 12. The first is a new way for app developers to allow users to ask Siri to do tasks they do often inside of their apps. For example, developers can place a button in their apps to teach Siri to play a particular podcast or order your favorite coffee. Not only can a user ask to do these things, but through machine learning, Siri will begin to understand your habits and offer suggestions of shortcuts for you. Do you play the same podcast every Wednesday on your commute home? Siri could suggest that on your lock screen or the Siri watch face at that time. This is a huge step forward for how people use their iOS devices because they devices will be able to do more and more for them

Shortcuts is also the new name of my beloved Workflow. If you don’t know, Workflow is an amazing app for automation on iOS that came out in 2014 and was purchased by Apple in 2017. It allowed for apps to quickly send information back and forth. A basic example is using Maps data to determine your ETA home, then texting that ETA to your spouse. In the classroom, I used this for everything from reminding me to email a parent at the end of the school day (with a button to start that email in the task) to creating lesson plan templates.

It seems that what Apple was doing with the Workflow team was building Siri Shortcuts and updating to a new Shortcuts app.

As I think about what Apple has done here, I realize it’s something only they could do. First, Workflow is an app that could only happen on iOS. The richness of Apple’s app ecosystem, and the existence of apps like Drafts, Bear, Ulysses, MindNode, and others necessitated a way to connect those apps together. Then for Apple to purchase that software and integrate it deeply into the system shows a deep commitment to automation and pro software. I’m very excited for the future of iOS.

Project Marzipan

The other announcement out of WWDC that has me hopeful is what the rumor mill leading up to the conference referred to as “Project Marzipan.” This was a framework to allow developers to easily port their iOS apps to the Mac.

While I only work from iOS now, the potential of a more seamless experience between macOS and iOS is having me reconsider my setup. While this feature isn’t going to be released until next year, it has me more excited about the potential of all Apple platforms than ever before.

I know this post sounds super Apple fanboy, but in a world of doom and gloom, having things to be excited about is important. The fact that the platform I love is continuing to grow in ways which will make my job easier is huge. I’m excited to see what the next few years hold.