This week, Apple held its yearly World Wide Developer Conference. It’s an event where Apple shows off what its next operating systems and changes are going to be so developers can start work updating their software so it is ready and can take advantage of the new features. This year there were a few themes and new technologies that might be interesting to those of us at Church Tech (even if you aren’t an Apple fan).
Digital Health and Time Well Spent
This truly has been a theme of the year. It all kicked off at the start of the year when Mark Zuckerberg announced his goal for the year was to make Facebook great again (he may have used a different term). As part of the changes he hinted at, he suggested that users would spend less time on Facebook (and that was good).
Then at Google I/O (its developer conference) they announced a suite of tools and measures to help people use their devices less as well and not miss out on the world around them.
Finally Apple’s conference yesterday did the same. These include things like tracking your usage of apps across devices. Getting reminders if you’ve been on an app for too long. Blocking access to an app if you’ve used it for too long and better control over notifications.
It reminds me of how three years ago Phil wrote this great post which ended with a call to action of paying attention to those around us and not being consumed by our devices.
The most significant changes to iOS came in the form of Siri shortcuts. This is where you can set commands to interact with third-party apps that were previously excluded (for example, “find my keys” activates your tile device). You can even chain these commands together (for example, “heading home” could send a text message to your spouse with an ETA, open Maps with your directs and start a podcast).
There were also big improvements to notifications with the introduction of grouped notifications (I bet android people can’t believe this is only just here). This is further enhanced by the ability to tune your notification settings from the lock screen.
Several apps — photos, books, news, stocks and voice memos — saw design refinements and minor feature additions. All of which is nice, but nothing to write home about. However, the new updates to FaceTime and Messenger are more interesting. With more animoji, the ability to make a custom memoji and FaceTime Group calling with animoji, it’s a big step forward.
Sometimes You Should Iron Out the Creases
As an Apple user, most of these features struck me as “finally”s the sort of thing that seems so obvious to have also done but probably would have taken time to implement it well (grouped notification for example). When we are always rushing to the next new shiny, it’s easy to leave these small, but important updates waiting.
An example for my church is we started adding graphics for all our sermons. This took some time to implement as we needed a style guide and some graphic designers at our church wanted to make them but were often busy. In the end, we started using Canva and had a shared guideline across the web team.
Perhaps there are some small annoyances in your church that would be good to correct, or an idea to implement. Perhaps you’ve been waiting to do it just right but you really just need to start.
I got an Apple watch series 3 at the beginning of the year as I wanted some better fitness tracking than my Withings watch offered. I quickly came to like the watch, my more than any android wear device I tried. This year Apple is adding some great features and some kind of strange ones. They are split between health and communication
- new workout types
- Automatic starting workout tracking (still need to confirm)
- Automatic ending workout tracking (still need to confirm)
- Start a 7-day challenge with friends
- Walkie-Talkie (where you can tap and send a message, no need to pick up)
- Third Party additions to the Siri Watch face
- Siri Shortcuts on the Siri Watch face
- More interactive notifications
- Podcast (finally)
- Web content (yeah…you’ll be able to look at web pages if you get a message with a link…)
Focus On A Few Things
When the watch first came out, it had this message of “we can’t wait to see what you do with it”. That’s okay, but the focus on health and communication is better. It’s more specific and more useful for people. Apple worked out what was working and dialed in on those elements.
Maybe you should identify the one or two strongest points of a ministry or church and really focus on those elements.
Although the mac is a very mature system, it’s clear there are still some areas and possibilities for it to grow in. This year we saw the addition of a system-wide dark mode (I’ll be activating this!) as well as refinements to the finder with a new gallery view and more metadata on display. It also features updates to markup and quick look to let you make small changes quickly.
However, one of the biggest features was the addition of some of the more recent iOS apps onto the mac, including News, Stocks, Home and voice memos. This hinted at a new project to help developers bring iOS apps to the Mac.
A final addition of note is the “continuity camera”. This is the ability to, from your mac, start your camera up on your iPhone and take a picture/scan a document, then place it in a file. So if you need a picture for your church leaflet, you just click the button on the mac, the phone unlocks to the camera, you snap the picture and it’s important instantly. You can do this with cloud storage or airdrop, but this is quicker and easier.
Leverage Your Strengths Elsewhere
The Mac App store hasn’t been doing well recently, unlike the iOS app store. Some big names pulled out and said it wasn’t worth working on. With the app store redesign, Apple announced some big name developers would be on the new mac app store. Plus with the path set to help iOS developers come to the Mac, there’s a chance to help bring the fantastic innovative apps from iOS to the mac.
This is Apple trying to leverage its strength in mobile back to the desktop which hasn’t been doing as well recently. It’s interesting that it isn’t just awkwardly trying to combine the two, but instead trying to find a way to get the most out of both.
Perhaps you have a strength in one of your ministries that you could draw inspiration for another? Maybe one has been organized well and you could bring that method to another.
There were even more announcements at WWDC and I’m sure the other developer sessions will reveal even more details. But I thought these bigger picture ideas might be more relevant for us.
Personally, I think the watchOS update might be the most exciting update. But I’m really looking forward to my mac Dark mode and Siri shortcuts too.