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WWDC24 Highlights: The Future of Apple Tech and AI

Unpacking WWDC24: Apple’s latest AI innovations, new software features, and what they mean for app developers. Check out our latest blog to find out more…

3 min read


WWDC 2024 blogpost

Welcome to my favourite time of year.

Why? Well, the sunshine is lovely and all, but as I wheeze my way through hay fever season it could be enough to call June a write-off. That’s if it wasn’t for Apple’s annual developer conference – WWDC – that I look forward to like a kid on Christmas.

Will Ferrell Dancing GIF

This event is our first look at the updates coming to all of Apple’s platforms: both user-facing and nerdy behind-the-scenes dev stuff. So unlike Apple’s other events (and actual Christmas), no money needs to be spent. It’s a showcase of features and updates that get gifted to us in the form of free software updates come September.

Let me set the scene for you…

Somewhere over California, above the clouds… a plane jets past the camera. Cut to inside the plane. Nine Apple execs are firing themselves up for their biggest day of the year. Leading the charge is Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering.

Okay Phil!” he shouts to the cockpit. Phil Schiller, Apple veteran, hits play on Mötley Crüe’s ‘Kickstart My Heart’ on his iPod Classic.

“I’m getting too old for this stuff.”

The music kicks in, sirens flash, and the rear hatch of the plane opens up. With parachutes strapped on, the Apple execs head towards it. Craig puts on a helmet that looks like his hair.

“Go! Go! It’s showtime.”

Plummeting through the sky towards Apple Park below, one of the execs takes out his iPhone to turn off airplane mode.

The first two parachutes deploy: ‘Apple Presents’, and ‘WWDC24’.

The rest of the parachutes open one by one, showing each of Apple’s software platforms: visionOS, iOS, tvOS, watchOS, iPadOS, macOS.

Watching at 3SC HQ, I had explained to my fellow Cubes about how the Apple events had become very cinematic since 2020 and were worth a watch even if you weren’t a dev. I hoped this disproportionately action-packed and dare-I-say actually quite cool sequence illustrated that point.

Cut to Tim Cook, watching the execs parachute past, inexplicably stood on the roof.

“Wow, that was so cool.”

Maybe the least cool thing you could possibly have said, Tim.

WWDC and me <3

I’ve been watching WWDC since I was just a small nerdy child. And now, as a big nerdy child (and Lead iOS Dev at 3 Sided Cube), the tradition continues – at home on my sofa with 2hrs worth of popcorn, at 3SC HQ, or in 2022 sweltering in the sun at actual Apple Park.

And it’s not just me. As an app agency, WWDC is a big deal. It’s our chance to get inspired as to new ways to level up our apps for our world-changing clients.

WWDC headliners

With a lot of talk about generative AI over the last couple of years — most prominently ChatGPT — of course the headline announcement from Apple this year is Calculator for iPa- I mean, ‘Apple Intelligence’.

In the usual Apple style, they’ve hung back until the others have tried it first and then swooped in to deliver a very Apple take on AI. Setting it apart from the rest: a major focus on privacy, with the model running on-device wherever possible.

‘Writing Tools’ will be available across the ecosystem to help proofread, summarise, adjust the tone of, or improve your writing. (Wishing I had access to this right now as I write this blog post.)

Email previews will be an intelligent sentence-long summary of the contents, and the 100 or so notifications from that one group chat (we all have one) will be summarised automatically for you in the Notification Center on the Lock Screen.

Sitting in the cinema the other day to watch a movie and being shown an advert for a car with ‘ChatGPT onboard’, I’ve become very suspicious of companies just jumping on the trend and expecting generative AI to magically equal a better product.

But here during Apple’s announcements, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s been very thoughtfully integrated throughout the system and makes for a really fab set of quality-of-life features — including just making Siri not incompetent.

As they started talking through ‘Image Playground,’ a tool available across the system to generate images from your prompts, the sceptic in me was back. What’s this for though Craig? What value does this add?

Well, let me tell you the scepticism dissipated the moment they showed us this next thing…

‘Genmoji’ allows you to generate and use emojis of anything you can think of, even including people from your photos if you want. I take it all back, I’m sold. I cannot tell you how often I need the most niche emojis.

The days of thinking, damn, if only there was an emoji I could use of a T-rex in a tutu on a surfboard, are over!

Sam Davis, Senior IOS Developer, 3 Sided Cube

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, apps can now help provide Siri with what Apple calls ‘personal context,’ which uses Apple Intelligence to understand the user and their needs better, and does so without sending your data to be – in Craig’s words –  “warehoused and analysed in someone’s ‘AI cloud’.”

Apps can offer up ‘app entities’ to help Siri understand content from the app, or ‘app intents’ to enable Siri to perform actions within it. An example that Apple gives of this with their own apps is asking Siri, “what time does my mom’s flight land.” Siri is able to reference a text from the user’s mom with the flight details, and then look up the flight number to provide the user with an ETA.

There’s the potential for some really clever stuff to happen here, and I’m super excited to see how we can integrate this into our apps to take advantage of Apple Intelligence fully.

App Intents can also be used to add controls from an app to the Lock Screen (in place of the torch or camera shortcuts) and into the Control Center for super-easy access, and another way to integrate into iOS deeply.

With new Home Screen customisation coming to iOS 18, apps can now offer light-mode, dark-mode, and tinted versions of their icons.

Apple Vision Pro, after its announcement last WWDC, and having been available in the US since February this year, is now coming to more countries, including here in the UK. 

visionOS is a pretty niche platform right now, but it’s one I’m personally very excited about. As a developer for Apple platforms, we can use all the same tools and knowledge that we use to develop for the iPhone, to develop for the Vision Pro, which makes it a really fun one to explore, bringing apps to a 3D space with a limited learning curve.


As the curtains closed on WWDC24, I logged off feeling inspired. We’ve got a whole new set of nifty system features to hook into on iOS, with more introduced every year. Both Android and iOS have their unique strengths, and leveraging them is one of the best ways to elevate an app, making it feel truly native and intuitive. WWDC24 has given us a lot to be excited about, and we can’t wait to start integrating these exciting new features for our clients.

As you can tell, I could talk all things iOS ‘til I’m blue in the face, so holla if you want to keep the conversation going!

There is plenty more stuff from the announcements that I haven’t covered here, so if you want a 3 minute summary of the whole event, Apple have you covered!

Or want to know even more about Apple Intelligence in 5 minutes?

Have 2 hours to spare? Watch the whole thing.

Published on July 1, 2024, last updated on July 1, 2024

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