Apple’s public betas are an opportunity for all of us — not just developers preparing apps — to get a glimpse into the future of the company’s software. Admittedly, we’re not moving to a distant year when we’ll no doubt all be wearing Apple-branded headsets and driving Apple cars — this time travel is only a matter of months. But it’s still an opportunity to see what new opportunities we can take advantage of in the fall.
However, if we zoom out a bit, we can also see the features of places where Apple is investing in the future, or – to use the classic saying that has become an Apple operating principle – skating to where the puck will be. Because Apple tends to lay the groundwork for big changes years in advance, knowing it will take some time for the rest of the world to catch up.
This year is no different. iOS and iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura, watchOS 9, even the latest update to the HomePod software is not only about the coming year, but also the year moving forward, with features that will profoundly change our lives – eventually. Just not immediately.
Keys to the castle
Apple first added passkey support as a technology preview in its 2021 platform updates, but in this year’s software, the feature is prime time ready, even if prime time isn’t quite ready yet.
Password keys, to refresh your memory, are a technology that aims to replace passwords for logging into websites, apps, and services. Rather than relying on you to remember a string of letters, numbers, and symbols (or a password manager to keep them for you), passkeys use public key cryptography to create credentials that are fully managed by system software and secured by your biometrics and /or a single password/password. They are hard to phishing and don’t rely on the services and apps to store your information, meaning they won’t be victims of the same type of data breaches as passwords.
But it will take some time for all those services and apps to adopt the new passwordless future, which is why Apple is rolling out its support now – it certainly doesn’t want to be the laggard. And thankfully Cupertino isn’t the only one promoting this idea; other big tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Google are all on board as well. But Apple’s integration is a big deal: Think about how many people have even one Apple device and what adoption potential that can drive. It can’t come soon enough.
What does it matter?
Like passkeys, Matter was a technology framework that Apple started building to support last year’s software updates, but this year it’s really starting to take off.
Matter is a new industry standard for smart home technology, which should mean all your devices work together seamlessly. In theory, this means you can use your Alexa, Google Home or HomePod to control all your devices, and all devices can talk to each other. Think of it as a lingua franca for smart home technology.
Of course, this isn’t something that’s going to come into play right away for existing smart home technology users. Rather, it’s a gradual process with more and more Matter-compatible devices being released over the next few years (or possibly existing ones being updated to work with the standard).
Matter requires a HomePod or Apple TV to act as a home hub – previously Apple also allowed the iPad to be used for such a purpose, but the idea seems to be that this requires a device that is always connected to your network and in your House . It also brings greater compatibility with Thread, a new networking technology that improves the range and reliability of smart home devices (Apple’s already built-in Thread radios in the HomePod mini and the latest AppleTV, which may also explain the aforementioned requirement. .)
As someone who has invested heavily in smart home technology (and has mastered all the interoperability challenges that come with it), the idea of having many more devices that will work together is exciting. And for those who have yet to dive into the market, it seems destined to make that experience a whole lot easier.
One of the most ambitious things Apple showed at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote last month was a major overhaul of the CarPlay feature, which links to in-car entertainment and navigation systems. In partnership with (as yet unannounced) automakers, Apple plans to expand CarPlay to control every part of the driving experience and eventually make it work with every screen in your car.
This is wild and far-reaching, and obviously it depends a lot on your make and model of car. Plus, like the original CarPlay, it will take some time for it to become popular: People don’t buy new cars all that often and, despite Apple’s characterization of CarPlay as a compelling reason to buy a car, there are probably very few. people go out and buy a new one to access the latest functionality.
But the seeds for that are built into iOS 16, suggesting Apple expects new cars to take advantage of this in a year or two. We may be in the earliest innings of this particular pursuit, but given how popular CarPlay has proved so far, it’s safe to say that this offering is likely to attract more than a few potential buyers in the long run. And it just might foreshadow Apple’s bigger plans for the auto industry… in the future.