Forget hardware, Apple’s WWDC software announcements showcase the company’s true innovative flair

A photo of Apple CEO Tim Cook standing next to the Apple VisionPro headset
(Image credit: Getty)

Apple’s hardware showcase at this year’s WWDC developer event may have stolen the limelight, but the company’s true innovation lies in its software announcements, according to analysts.

The launch of the Apple Vision Pro, framed as a “revolutionary spatial computer” that will blend digital content with the physical world, marked the tech giant’s first new product launch since the Apple Watch in 2015.

However, software-related announcements should be a huge source of excitement among businesses globally and could have a profound long-term impact, according to Forrester VP and principal analyst Thomas Husson.

“Make no mistake, even if Apple announced its first new product category launch since the Apple Watch in 2015, today’s software announcements will have a much stronger business impact in the next two to three years to come than its new Vision Pro mixed-reality headset,” he said.

Husson added that while a strong focus has been traditionally placed on Apple’s hardware, the strength of its software offerings has been a key differentiator.

"The 15-year-old AppStore ecosystem and the pivot to content and services have created an even bigger business [than hardware],” Husson said. “You may think that the many small announcements made today on the various OS softwares are details that won’t change the game. I’d argue - on the contrary - that Apple’s attention to details is what makes its experiences magical over time.”

Among these exciting software-related announcements was macOS Sonoma, which Apple said will bring “all new capabilities for elevating productivity and creativity” for users.

With Sonoma, users will be able to harness “enhanced hybrid and remote pro workflows”, the company said. This will include a new high-performance mode for the Screen Sharing app that will enable “increasingly responsive remote access to hybrid in-studio and remote pro workflows”.

“This mode empowers pros to securely access their content creation workflows from anywhere — whether editing in Final Cut Pro or DaVinci Resolve, or animating complex 3D assets in Maya,” the company said in a statement.

A screenshot showing a video conferencing call on a Mac, with one participant sharing their screen to others

(Image credit: Apple)

Enhanced video conferencing capabilities are also coming to macOS Sonoma that will enable users to “present and share their work more effectively within any audio conferencing app”.

Meanwhile, updates to Safari for macOS users have raised eyebrows, with new features set to “enhance the browsing experience”.

Updates to Private Browsing will deliver marked protections during browsing from trackers, the company said, while advanced tracking and fingerprinting protections will “go even further to help prevent websites from tracking or identifying the user”.

A Mac showing two browser windows side by side to highlight a new multiple accounts feature

(Image credit: Apple)

In terms of productivity, the new profiles function will allow users to create separate browsing between topics while ensuring that cookies, history, extensions, tab groups, and favorites are kept separate.

Users will be able to sign in to the same website with both work and personal accounts, and switch between them on the fly, allowing for a far smoother experience, according to Apple.

Apple is going big on AI

A key talking point from WWDC, Husson said, was Apple’s background work on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

While the generative AI industry is experiencing a boom period, with companies such as Microsoft and Google jumping on the bandwagon and investing billions, Apple appears to have been going about its business quietly on this front.


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"I am sure skeptics would have expected a stronger emphasis on generative AI tools for developers, but Apple embedded AI directly and seamlessly into new daily consumer experiences,” said Husson.

“Instead of specifically calling out AI - and contrary to other tech companies - Apple made many references throughout the keynote to how machine learning technologies help improve experiences.”

iOS17 will receive a raft of new AI features in forthcoming updates, Apple confirmed. This includes new autocorrect and word prediction capabilities underpinned by an on-device machine learning language model.

The tech giant said this will improve the accuracy of predictive text and enhance sentence-level autocorrections that can amend grammatical mistakes more efficiently.

With this, Apple said users will now receive predictive text recommendations inline as they type, meaning that adding entire words or completing sentences will be doable by simply tapping the spacebar.

Apple said this dictation leverages a new speech recognition model to make it even more accurate.

The integration of AI features and services across Apple’s hardware and software offerings highlights that the company is bullish on this front, but is intent on quietly innovating and avoiding the hype, Husson suggested.

“Apple clearly showcased today that it continues to lead with disruptive innovation through its integrated ecosystem of hardware, software, and services, while progressively helping brands to deliver more invisible and more immersive experiences.”

Ross Kelly

Ross Kelly is a staff writer at ITPro, ChannelPro, and CloudPro, with a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research. 

In his spare time, Ross enjoys cycling, walking and is an avid reader of history and non-fiction.

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