My favorite iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and watchOS 11 features that flew under the radar at WWDC 2024

Apple had a lot to cram into it WWDC 2024 noted that some features were left out of focus. Here at the company’s campus, I had the chance to speak with various executives as well as dig deeper. iOS 18, iPadOS 18, Apple Intelligence, watchOS 11 and more. In these sessions, I was able to learn more about how specific things work, such as what specific steps you take to customize your iPhone’s home screen and control center. I also noticed some other updates that weren’t briefly mentioned in the keynote, like new support for walking routes in Apple Maps and how exercise load concepts look in watchOS 11. , these are my favorites.

I’ve always been a Google Maps girl, partly because the app had superior data compared to Apple Maps in its early years. These days I stick to Google Maps because it has all my saved locations and history. When I learned that iOS 18 would bring updates to Apple Maps, especially with rides and routes, I was very interested.

Basically, in iOS 18, when you go to search on Maps, you’ll see a new option under “Find Nearby” called rides. It will show you recommended rides, and you can filter by type of ride (eg loop) and set the length. You’ll find options nearby, and tapping on one will show you a topographical view with elevation details, how difficult it is, and estimated duration. You can save each route and tap to save and add notes for later offline reference. There’s a new Library view, and you’ll find it on your profile on Maps.

You’ll also be able to create new routes on the Map by tapping anywhere to start defining your route. You can keep tapping to add waypoints, which will cause the trail to continue connecting them, then click “Close Loop” to end your trail. These routes can be shared, although it’s not yet clear if you can share it with, say, a friend or a driver, taking your chosen route for them to get to their destination.

Two iPhones separated by the iOS 18 logo show the Maps app and the Notes app, respectively.Two iPhones separated by the iOS 18 logo show the Maps app and the Notes app, respectively.


The hikes that Apple will feature on Maps are created by its own team working with US National Parks, so they will only be available for the 63 national parks in the country. In other words, it does not carry data from, for example, AllTrails. One press releaseApple said it could see thousands of rides at launch.

As a city dweller who only occasionally walks, my excitement lies less in the walking and more in the potential to share my special routes to show people how to walk from the train station to their building or favorite restaurant. This is an attractive feature and is definitely the reason I choose Apple Maps over Google.

Frankly, the Maps update might be my favorite of them all it was not said It was demonstrated by a large margin during the WWDC 2024 keynote. But some of the new tools coming to Calendar tickle my fancy, too. Specifically, the new integration with reminders makes it easy not only to schedule your tasks in your diary, but also to check them from the Calendar app. You can quickly move reminders by long-pressing and dragging so that the note to call your mom is placed in the Wednesday 5pm slot instead of sitting in your Reminders app. Additionally, Calendar gets new views every day for a month that better detail your activity level. It’s similar to how the Fitness app shows your daily calls progressing quickly in a monthly view.

It’s not something that’s usually not mentioned during the keynote, but it’s there there is Details on how Tapback works that weren’t covered on yesterday’s show. If you’re like me, you didn’t remember that Tapback refers to the reactions you can send by double-tapping a blue or gray bubble in messages. With iOS 18, you’ll get more options than the limited selection of hearts, thumbs up, thumbs down, “Haha,” exclamation marks, and question marks. They will also appear in full color instead of the current (dull) gray with the update.

But what I later learned is that when you double-tap a message that already has reactions attached, a new balloon appears at the top of your screen showing who responded with which emoji. This should make it easier to hide in a group chat, but can also be used as an informal polling tool by asking your friends to react with specific emojis to show different responses. This should make Messages a bit more Slack-like, and I’d like it to mention Whatsapp and Telegram.

There are a lot of features coming to iOS 18 that weren’t so popular on the WWDC scene, like the Journal app’s new widget for the home screen, which shows hints and lets you create new entries. Journal also has a new insights view that shows your writing lines and other historical data, plus a new tool that lets you add your thoughts to each entry from within the app.

Meanwhile, Safari gets a new “Highlights” button in the search (or URL) bar, and tapping it will show a machine-learning-generated summary of the web page you’re visiting. Tapping it opens a panel with more information, such as navigation directions to a restaurant listed on the page or a phone number to call the business. You can also quickly launch reader view from this panel.

I wasn’t too keen on any of this because I don’t use the Journal app much and I don’t need Safari to summarize a web page for me. But there are other buried updates that I really want to shout out. For example, I’ve certainly spent a lot of time with Math Notes and Apple Pencil for the iPad, but as soon as I looked at Apple’s iOS 18 press release, I found out that the iPhone’s Notes app is also getting a version of it. According to the screenshot Apple included, it looks like you can calculate and split expenses among a group of friends by writing down a list of expenses and how much each item is, then adding the names of each expense to a formula with plus and equal signs. , then divide that by the number of people in your group. Not exactly In a divided mannerbut over time I could see it getting stronger.

I was also interested in some of the Smart Script features in iPadOS 18, especially when I realized that you can simply move your scribbled words by dragging them further apart, and the rest of your scribbled text moves in tandem. It’s hard to describe, and I’ll have to wait until I can try it myself to show you an animated example. But it was impressive, if not extremely useful.

Finally, the Passwords app and other privacy updates were teased during the keynote, but I learned more about how things like accessory installation and sharing contacts with apps work. Apple is releasing a new accessory setup kit so device makers can adopt a pairing interface similar to how you connect your AirPods or Apple Watch to your iPhone. Unless developers take this approach, the new Bluetooth connectivity interface will be more transparent about what other devices are on your network and what you’re actually accessing when you allow an app to see other devices on your network. While it wasn’t completely omitted at launch, the Passcodes app is one thing that makes me happy because I’m absolutely sick of digging through settings to get codes for apps that I use my iPhone’s authenticator to unlock.

There are a lot of features I’m excited about and learning more about how they work, including the new dynamic watch style of the Photos face in watchOS 11, pinned collections in the redesigned Photos app, and iPadOS mirroring support for easier remote control. Oh, and the Airplay feature that lets you send money to friends while holding your phones together? Yes! Are you able to pause and adjust Activity calls and this Training Download information on watchOS? Hallelujah!

While I can see the appeal of locked and hidden apps, I’m not sure I’ll have much use for it, and it’ll probably exacerbate my already suspicious nature.

I’m also a bit wary of things like Genmoji and Image Playground, both of which are Apple Intelligence features that won’t hit all iOS 18 devices. There will be images should contain metadata information indicating that they were generated by Apple’s AI, and guardrails to prevent the creation of abusive and exploitative content.

It’s clear that there will be a lot of updates to Apple’s phones, tablets, laptops and wearables later this year, and I can’t wait to try them out. The public beta should be ready later this summer, when most people (who are willing to risk an unstable platform) can check it out.

Follow all the news here Apple’s WWDC 2024.

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