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Voiceover: Welcome to the Living Blindfully 2024 Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote Special: going in-depth into Apple’s flagship software event from a blindness perspective ? iOS, MacOS, WatchOS, and the big buzzword of the moment, AI.

On our expert panel, tech enthusiast, prolific author, and all-round legend ? Judy Dixon, another tech enthusiast and author who believes the PC is so like 20th century ? Mike Feir, accessibility consultant, screen-grabbing ninja, and incredibly tolerant daughter ? Heidi Taylor, and because someone has to be here to push all the buttons, your Living Blindfully host ? Jonathan Mosen.

Jonathan: Whoa! The speculation prior to this 2024 WWDC keynote was that this would be Apple’s biggest WWDC in a long time, and possibly the most significant ever release of iOS 18. So did it live up to all the hype? Let’s go around the panel for a very quick rating.

I don’t want to go into the deets at this point, because we’ll go into the deets in a little bit. I just want to get your instinctive reactions on a scale of wah wah wah, to wooh! And you can tell us sort of where you sit on it.

So Mike, I’m going to start with you because you’re the odd one out. You’re the only person this time not in New Zealand. Because even Judy’s in New Zealand.

Mike: [laughs]

Jonathan: What did you think of it? . Mike: You know, I was pretty impressed. I think, you know, that artificial intelligence stuff, yeah, it’s a big step. I get where they’re coming from. This is big, big league updating here.

Jonathan: Okay. And how about you, Heidi?

Heidi: I guess I’d be somewhere like, yeah.

Jonathan: [laughs] Yep. So you thought it was substantial?

Heidi: Yes.

Jonathan: And was it worth getting up at 5 AM for, Judy? Because that is a new experience for you.

Judy: [laughs] It certainly is. Yeah, I think so. I mean, I’m not usually a skeptic, but I’m a little bit skeptical in this case because the proof is going to be in the telling, and the telling is a long ways.

I was intrigued by how many things are going to come along at all different times.

Jonathan: Yes.

Judy: That was kind of interesting. But I think it’s pretty exciting stuff.

Jonathan: I think that we will talk, of course, about Apple Intelligence (which is what they’re calling it) much later. But I think that they’re under some pressure to really hype stuff that won’t be here for a wee while later in the iOS 18 cycle.

The assistive technology industry used to be really bad about this. Actually, some of them still are. You know, they hype products that you won’t see for a long time. I mean, where’s the Optima? Where is it?

Judy: [laughs]

Jonathan: Anyway, that’s a different topic. [laughs]

So let’s go through the keynote in the order that they did. And very briefly, we can talk about VisionOS version 2. Judy, you would be the only person who may have seen a Vision Pro because it’s not available anywhere else.

Judy: And I have not.

Jonathan: Yeah. It doesn’t grab me much at the moment, particularly since they have not indicated that they’re going to be making the camera API available to third-party apps, so you won’t be able to use Aira still, or Be My Eyes, Envision, or any of those guys, with the Vision Pro yet.

But if you have one, or you want to, because it’s going to be available in more countries soon, they’ve got this cool new trick where you can turn your old photos into spatial photos. And what else? You can watch on the big screen on long commutes, apparently. And there are new frameworks for APIs, but not the one that I was really interested in. And Vimeo is coming to the Vision Pro as well.

No word yet on that critical issue, though. When will Vision Pro work with third-party apps on the camera?

Judy: They talk about 2,000 apps like it’s a lot.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Judy: That’s not many. That’s not much.

Jonathan: No, it isn’t. How many are in the App Store? Millions?

Judy: Oh, heavens! Millions.

Mike: Millions.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Did you capture all the countries that it’s coming to shortly, Heidi?

Heidi: Yes. It’s coming to China, Japan, and Singapore on June 28th, and Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom on July 12th.

Jonathan: And as the person, the honorary person with working eyeballs here, does the Vision Pro interest you? I mean, do you think it’s actually useful, or just cool gadgetry?

Heidi: I put it firmly in the cool gadgetry camp. Like, I don’t think I’d actually use it on a regular basis. It’s like, it would be fun to try, but I don’t think I’d, like, use it for everything they say it can be used for.

Jonathan: I’ve seen a little bit of stuff on the Mastodon where, in fact, ? Can we get a toot from the people on Mastodon?

[toot sound effect]

Yeah, we can. There we go. There’s a toot coming through. We’re all about Mastodon now.

People say VoiceOver’s quite tricky to use on it. Yeah, it’s quite different in the way that you interact with VoiceOver. There’s all sorts of pinching and stuff going on there.

So that’s VisionOS. Have we finished with that?


That’s good.

Mike: [laughs]

Jonathan: Let’s go on to iOS 18 then, because there’s a lot to talk about here, starting off with the fully customizable home screen. Now, as I understand it, Heidi, what this means is that the typical grid, the kind of like checkerboard of apps is now a thing of the past, and it’s just all over the place, do what you like. Right?

Heidi: Partially. So there’s still the underlying grid system, but that the issue that’s been going on with iOS forever is that it populates the grid from the top left-hand corner, and you can’t choose where on the grid the icons are. But now, you can choose any slot in the grid for the icon. So you can have like a big gap in the middle, or only icons at the bottom, or only icons down the right-hand side, that sort of thing.

Judy: But it’s still a grid?

Heidi: But it’s still a grid.

Judy: Oh, okay.

Jonathan: I’m trying to conceptualize.

Mike: At least, that’ll mean it’ll still be easy for us to move apps where we want them on our home screens. I’m kind of thankful for that. But I don’t know if I want any blank chunks of space anywhere. [laughs] I can already move apps into the order I want them in on the pages. I don’t know what we’ll get out of that as blind users of this.

Jonathan: So you could also customize your home screen so that, say, one page of it might have a photo of someone or something amid the apps, right? Is that all possible now?

Heidi: That’s pretty much the intention, yeah. You could have a picture of, say, Bonnie as your background, and you could just put the apps at the top and the bottom so that her face isn’t now covered by icons, which is how it had to be before.

Judy: Hmm.

Jonathan: I’m wondering what page I would put a photo of Bonnie on, you know.


Jonathan: Like if I had a page that’s for food delivery services, I might put a picture on that one. Or, you know, shopping apps for expensive handbags, and shoes, and stuff like that. I could put a photo on that one.

Heidi: You could just have it because you love her.

Jonathan: Well, this is the perfect test about whether she actually listens to Living Blindfully or not because if she doesn’t, I won’t be getting any flack tonight.

Judy: [laughs]

Jonathan: I don’t think she’s a plus subscriber.

So this is really interesting. And it’s kind of like an extension of the whole widget concept, where they liberated the home screen a lot by letting you put different sizes of widget on there, and I really like that. Like when I travel, I have a page of my home screen that’s dedicated to travel apps. And I have things like TripIt and various widgets that TripIt displays, telling me what carousel my baggage is coming in, the gate that my next flight’s leaving from, and I really like having all that on my home screen. So I guess this is just another way to jazz that up.

Heidi: Yeah, yeah.

Jonathan: Okay. Now, let’s see what else they were talking about.

Oh, they were talking about the new control center. This sounds very interesting because control center was a bit tedious in the past.

Judy: Yes.

Jonathan: I’m just making sure people are able to keep up with this. This is the thing where on newer iPhones, if you swipe down a little bit from the top when VoiceOver is running, that’s where you see your airplane mode, and Wi-Fi and things. There’s a few non-movable controls in the current version, at least. But then if you want to add things to the control center, you have to pop out of there, go into settings, and control center’s in there.

Now, it’s been completely rejigged, and I’ve got a control widget thing gallery. So as I understood the concept, Heidi, you can be in control center, a bit like the today view. You can be in control center and add and subtract items from it now.

Heidi: Yes, that’s right. There’s like a nice little plus button in the top right-hand corner. No, left-hand corner, sorry. And yeah, you can add different things to it, and rearrange the order. And there’s like multiple pages now of controls that you swipe between.

Judy: Oh, that’s nice.

Mike: That should be really good. I’m looking forward to that usefulness of just really having separate groups of related controls that you can just quickly go to. I’ll use that one, for sure.

Judy: I will, too.

Jonathan: And because third-party apps now work with it, you could imagine, say, a podcast app having a little control center thing where you can skip to the next chapter, and maybe mark an episode as played, hopefully, and do all those things from control center, or the lock screen.

Sorry, Heidi. You were going to say?

Heidi: I was just going to say the scrolling between the pages in the control center, they showed it off as vertical scrolling rather than swiping between pages as it is on the home screens. So it may be interesting to see what gesture they choose for that.

Judy: Well, you could do that now because if your control center takes up more than a screen full of widgets or whatever you call those things, icons, you know, you can still do a 3-finger swipe up to get to the next lot of them.

Heidi: Oh, okay. Cool. So it’ll probably be that.

And also, something they didn’t mention but did show on the screen is there seems to be like a power icon in control center. So it may be a quick way to power down your iPhone.

Jonathan: Ah.

Mike: Hmm.

Judy: Oh, that’s nice.

Jonathan:Yeah. I like saying S-I-R-I, (I better be very careful about that.), restart this device, I say. or shut down this device, I say. And it sometimes actually does. Or sometimes it will say, I found something on the web about shut down this device.


Jonathan: Apps can now be locked. Some individual apps let you do this.

Thanks to you, Dr. Feir, I got into Day One Journal. I love my Day One Journal. And we’re going to be doing a comprehensive demonstration of Day One Journal on Living Blindfully at some point soon. I love that app. But, you know, I mean, if you’re going to confide your innermost things to the day one journal, you really want that thing locked.

So I’ve got it. So you need to use Face ID every time you get in. But now that’s becoming system-wide, so you can lock down specific apps, and they require you to authenticate with Face ID, or a passcode, or touch ID, if you’ve got an older phone. So that’s a really cool idea.

When an app is locked, it won’t even appear anywhere else in the system. So as I understand it, locked apps won’t give you notifications or other items, so you’ve got to be careful when you lock it down.

You can also hide an app by putting it in the mysterious hidden apps folder.

Judy: That’s great.

Jonathan: So that’s cool. I’m sure there’ll be many parents who want to know what’s in their child’s hidden apps folder.

What else have we got in iOS 18?

You can determine which contacts an app can see. So yeah, alright. I can see that for privacy conscious-people, that’s good.

Messages now lets you tap back with an emoji or sticker. Now, I’m not sure I understand the terminology of tap back. Is that when, for example, you send me a message, Heidi, and I give you the thumbs up? Is that a tap back?

Heidi: Yes, it is.

Judy: Ah.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Heidi: I’d never heard them called that, or I didn’t remember them being called that, but that’s exactly what they’re referring to.

Mike: That’s what I figured, just quickly done things that are just immediately doable.

Jonathan: So at the moment, is that customizable? I mean, as far as I know, there is only the thumbs up, heart emoji, whatever, a couple of other ones.

Heidi: Yeah. So right now, there’s only 6.

Jonathan: Yeah. And now, you can add anything? Is there something to the user interface that lets you add to that tap back menu? Is that how it will work?

Heidi: Yes.

Mike: Cool. Before, you’d have to go into the app, there was a menu of different things you could go into, and choose the effect, or choose the response. And now, they’ve got them where it sounds like you’ll just be able to add effects to bits of the text, not the whole message, things like that. And then, generate images, kind of, as you go. Like, if you don’t like any of the emojis and you want to be more sort of personal, you could send like a happy birthday message to your mom and include like a photo of her surrounded by birthday cake and stuff, and it can just generate that apparently very quickly.

Jonathan: That’s kind of cute, isn’t it?

Judy: Hmm.

Jonathan: Yeah. So now, when you go into the actions rotor when you’ve got a message and you choose react, you’ll be able to choose what you react with much more. So that’s kind of nice. You can make it your personality. I have to find an epic emoji.


Jonathan: I thought of you immediately. I mean, I think of you often, of course, Judy. But I thought of you immediately when they were talking about text formatting and messages. And I thought oh, Judy will be impressed with this. you can really make a nice, well-constructed message.

Judy: I like that idea.

Jonathan: I knew you would. I think it’s great.

Judy: I do. I would do that.

Jonathan: Yeah, I know you would.


Jonathan: Yeah. “Here’s what I intend to do today. List of 5 items.”

Judy: [laughs] Right. With bullets.

Jonathan: Yeah, bullets and lists.

Judy: Yes.

Heidi: I don’t think you can do lists.

Jonathan: Oh, that’s a shame. What can you do? What can you do?

Judy: What can you do?

Jonathan: Burst our bubble, why don’t you?

Heidi: [laughs] Sorry. Bold, italics, underline, and strike through.

Judy: Aww!

Heidi: And then, they’ve got some like text effects, so you can make the text bigger, smaller, make it shake, make it nod, make it ripple, make it bloom, make it jitter, or make it sort of explode. But I don’t necessarily know what all of those mean. Those are just the options.

Judy: Oh. Hmm.

Jonathan: I can immediately think of negotiations between a union and the employer, and the union’s going to send all of their text negotiations in strike through, aren’t they?

Judy: [laughs] Yeah.

Jonathan: You can text friends and family using Satellite in the Messages app with iMessage and SMS. This is very very cool indeed. And this could, I don’t know, I guess they’ve already got the life-saving functions, and they’ve had them for a couple of years. So this is not so much a life-saving function, but it’s just if you’ve got no cell service and you just want to send someone a text, now, you’ll be able to. That’s really neat, especially going to Phongomomena, which Heidi and I will be very familiar with.

Heidi: Don’t hate on Phongomomena.

Jonathan: I’m not hating on it. I’m just pointing out they’ve got no cell service there.


Judy: Do you think there’s going to be a charge for that?

Jonathan: They didn’t say.

Judy: They didn’t say?

Jonathan: Didn’t they say that the whole satellite thing was free for the next, how many years, Mike? 2 or 3?

Mike: I kind of remember him mentioning it was free. At least, they didn’t give an end date to that.

Jonathan: Yeah.

So then, they’ve got in-device categorization in mail.

Heidi: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. You forgot that you can now schedule a message to send at a specific time.

Jonathan: I consider myself castigated.

Heidi: [laughs]

Jonathan: So this is good. I mean, you can immediately think of practical uses for this.

Judy: This is good.

Jonathan: Yup, an obvious one that should have been there for a long time.

So now, am I allowed to talk about the mail, Heidi?

Heidi: I’ll allow it.

Jonathan: Okay, because they’ve got this in-device categorization, and it helps you stay up-to-date on all accounts.

So it’s supposed to, ? See, I don’t know. I don’t trust this sort of stuff.

For a long time in Microsoft Outlook, they’ve had the focused inbox thing. And the very first thing I do if I have to use that app is turn that off. I like to do my own prioritizing, and I don’t want a machine telling me what I think is important. But perhaps, I’m a Luddite.

Judy: [laughs]

Jonathan: Anyone else think this is a good feature?

Mike: I’m dubious. I guess I have that, to some extent, in Gmail. I use the Gmail app, and it has a bundling thing where it has most things in your primary, and then it bundles some stuff off to social media and other categories like that, promos. So it depends how it’s integrated. It does say you can adjust it, and put people in different categories and stuff like that. So it sounds like you can certainly tailor this to your exacting standards. Do you want to go through that effort is the question, I think.

Jonathan: [laughs] So let me ask you this, Mike. When you go into the book of face, because you’re on there, right? You’re on your Facebook.

Mike: I have to be.

Jonathan: When you do that, do you let the algorithm prioritize what you see, or do you go in and turn the thing on that makes sure you see just whatever’s has been posted in the order that it was posted? Because I’m the latter. I don’t like the algorithms.

Mike: I’ve looked for options like that. I’ll have to look again for that. I haven’t seen it, so I guess I’m getting what the algorithm thinks I want. And I wouldn’t mind being able to have a bit more control over that.

Jonathan: Yeah. But I guess if you’ve got this thing switched on, and you’re going to a concert, and you’ve got an e-ticket with that concert ticket there, it knows all of that, and it puts it all together, I guess it’s useful.

The proof, ? I don’t know about you, Judy, but the one that always gets me is when people say that the proof was in the pudding, which was never the saying.

Judy: [laughs]

Jonathan: It was never the saying.

Jonathan: The pudding is in the eating, as they say.

Tap to cash in Apple Wallet. I don’t think this will work here in New Zealand, will it, Heidi? Because we don’t have Apple Cash.

Heidi: No, we don’t.

Judy: Oh, you don’t?

Jonathan: No.

Judy: It’s very nice.

Jonathan: Yeah, it does sound cool. So you can just pay someone by knocking your phones together, and transfer money. That’s very cool. And in fact, this is something that a New Zealand Reserve Bank is working on officially, actually creating a digital currency.

Judy: Cool.

Jonathan: So yeah, there you go.

Somewhere along the line, I missed, by the way, when we were talking about the Messages app, that they very very briefly mentioned RCS. They didn’t feature RCS in any way. And yet, it’s a very very big deal, and there’s a lot of politics in this.

So for those who aren’t familiar, RCS is the Rich Communication Services, and it essentially is the majorly souped-up next generation of generic text messaging. It’s an open standard. Google adopted it pretty quickly. And they said Apple, you should adopt this too.

Apple declined for a long long time. And then, the EU came along and started putting pressure on them, and they’ve decided to just very quietly phase in RCS. This is going to be huge for communication between iOS and Android peeps because text messaging between iOS and Android peeps is pretty limited. It literally is just text. And that’s what’s caused people to gravitate to apps like WhatsApp in big number because you’ve got voice messaging, you’ve got sharing of files across platforms including Windows, actually, in WhatsApp. With RCS, it does level the playing field a lot between iMessage and Android, and that’s why Apple doesn’t really want you to know about it. They’re doing it reluctantly. I think WhatsApp may well suffer in terms of adoption once this thing rolls out.

Judy: Hmm.

Jonathan: The Journal app. Mike, that Journal app is just a major disappointment, don’t you think?

Mike: Yeah. I haven’t used it a ton, I must say. But it does sound like they’re slowly going to add new things to it, so that’s good. I mean, it can slowly grow into something more useful.

I’m glad searching was one of the very first things they’re updating because that was a big thing. You couldn’t search back very far. Like, if you had hundreds of entries, God help you if you want to find something in entry number 6.

Jonathan: Right.

Mike: [laughs] You’d have to scroll and scroll and scroll all the way back.

So it does sound like they’re at least moving in good directions with it. But I didn’t hear too many things for Journal. It didn’t stay up.

Jonathan: No, it just wanted to help you record your state of mind. And the thing about the Journal app is it’s pretty basic compared to something like Day One, which is a really good app. And there’s no way to import and export either. So even if you wanted, for some reason, to switch to the Journal, because it does have some really nice features in terms of knowing what you’ve been up to and essentially artificially intelligently writing basic journal entries for you. But if you’ve been using the Day One app for years and you’ve got no way of importing your Day One content into the Apple Journal, it’s a tall order to get people to switch, I think.

The new game mode. Now, I was interested in this because it said that it minimizes background activity to sustain the highest frame rate and dramatically, it said, improve the responsiveness of AirPods and wireless game controllers. And that made me wonder whether Bluetooth-based hearing aids might benefit from this as well.

When would you use game mode, and what would be the consequences of using it in terms of other things?

Judy: I wonder if you could turn it on for other things.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah. How controllable is it? I presume, the user can switch this on and off at their discretion.

I can think of audio games where the AirPods, even with Apple’s AirPods, there’s still a bit of lag. I noticed it with Sonar Islands, for example. If I’m playing that, I typically will use EarPods. Despite the AirPods sounding better, the EarPods is wired, so it’s instant. Sometimes, there’s that lag, and you misjudge your turns and stuff because you can’t quite hear exactly as the panning happens. And so if they can kill that bit of lag, that in itself will be good.

I don’t have a controller, so I’ve yet to encounter enough justification to get one of those to game with.

But again, you’d have to think about Bluetooth lag and eliminate that. So if they could eliminate all other sort of background processes, and really minimize that, and get the game speed as fast as possible, Then that’s good.

Jonathan: There’s one other use case I can think of for this. And I don’t know whether it would work or not. But if I am writing in the Day One journal app, ? And by the way, this episode is brought to you, ? But no, it’s not, actually.


Jonathan: They should pay for it.

Let’s change the tune. Let’s say I’m writing in a long iMessage, and I have my keyboard echo turned completely off. (I don’t like keyboard echo at all.), and I’m typing away. But if I want to, say, review the last line that I wrote, then it takes a second or so for my Bluetooth hearing aids just to wake up again. You know, VoiceOver is hibernated, essentially, to save battery.

And when I’m doing serious composition, ? And you might be familiar with this, Mike, because I know you do a lot of writing in Ulysses, which is another fantastic app. That app just gets better and better.

So if I’m writing in Ulysses for serious work, or Drafts, I came up with a cool trick. And maybe the gaming mode means that this trick is obsolete. But in control center, you can add your hearing aid devices to it, and they have the ability to play background sound. It’s supposed to help people with tinnitus, that kind of stuff.

Mike: Ah, yeah.

Jonathan: What you do is you turn the background sound on, but you turn the background sound all the way down. And what that does is keeps the audio device constantly awake. So you have to be aware of a potential slightly increased battery drain. But it means that if you’re using AirPods, or some sort of Bluetooth headphones, or Bluetooth hearing aids, and you want quick response when you’re writing a document, you got it.

And then, when I finished writing my document, I just turned the background sounds that I can’t hear back off again.

Mike: See, there are so many better background sounds. I use an app like Nature Space, and that just blows away any of the background sounds.

Jonathan: Yes.

Mike: And you can just enjoy something you’re using to help keep that audio thing alive and write to your heart’s content, and then just stop it when you’re finished. [laughs]

Jonathan: Yeah.

Mike: That’s kind of what I do.

Jonathan: Nature Space is a great app. There’s so many good sounds on there.

Big changes to the Photos app. They mentioned this in various ways across the keynote. It lets you find photos by all sorts of criteria, sort them by all sorts of criteria.

Once you get to the Apple Intelligence stuff, You can actually ask Siri to find some photos for you based on quite complex instructions. Like you know, the time that Heidi took my curry away from the dinner table before it had been fully eaten. [laughs]

Heidi: I thought you were over that.


Jonathan: That’s really cool. That has so many benefits for blind people who need to try and find that photo, and find it quickly. So this is pretty cool.

but aesthetically, Heidi, it sounds like the Photos app’s a lot different now.

Heidi: Yeah, I guess so. Before, you had the navigation bar where you chose the different organisation options. And now, it’s sort of like one big screen. So you’ve got the gallery at the top, which is just all the photos.

Jonathan: Oh God, it’s the Sonos of photos apps.


Heidi: And then, you’ve got various categories after that that you can go through, and then choose the folders or whatever it’s organized as.

Mike: And then, I understood that sort of down towards the bottom, you had the organization and the drilling down options that you could use to really get at different categories and things. Is that right?

Heidi: Yeah.

Jonathan: Does anyone else find weird focus issues in the Photos app right now, just trying to scroll through all your photos and get to them?

Judy: Yes, yes, very definitely.

Jonathan: Yeah, yeah. So I hope they can address that. It can be very tricky navigating in the Photos app.

Also, calendar integration in Reminders. That makes sense because sometimes, the difference between Reminders and Calendar events are a bit arbitrary, I think.

Mike: Yeah, I’ve beefed with that for years. You know, people didn’t really take well to Apple really thinking about them as two separate things. and they don’t realize that the due dates in reminders that have them don’t automatically show up in the calendar. So you know, you need a third-party app like Fantastical to actually have that happen.

Hopefully, this will finally rectify that, and people can see due dates of their reminders in among their events and actually plan properly with all their cylinders firing at once here. That would be just so great that they’re fixing that, finally. [laughs]

Jonathan: We have demonstrated the Fantastical app on a previous episode, and it is such a good app.

Judy: Oh, it’s great.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Judy: It is.

Jonathan: And now, I’ve supercharged it, turbocharged it by integrating it with Todoist. And we are going to be having a demonstration of Todoist on Living Blindfully quite soon as well. That is now my favorite tasks app, and it works beautifully in Windows as well. So no matter where I am, if I got to get a reminder in (and I maintain a whole bunch of projects), it’s really easy to do. It’s a fantastic system.

So that’s iOS 18, which is out now. It’s out now for developers.

And can we just maybe have a talk about this? Because I know there are people who are new to this who want to jump on board, and it seems easier than ever now to actually get the developer beta. Does anyone want to offer any advice on whether to do that or not?

Mike: The first couple of versions of the beta, you’re dicing with death kind of doing this. Wait until it’s more towards the end of the cycle.

I’m not even going to risk that, frankly. My iPhone is how we let people into the building here, so you know, I don’t play with that capability lately.

I’m not going to use my iPhone for beta testing at all. I’ll wait until it comes out.

And you know, I’m doing this while writing the book, on the 3rd edition of this, and so it would be a huge advantage to me to do it earlier. But I just can’t afford to take that chance.

So really be thoughtful. Back your stuff up in the cloud first. Take every precaution you can because betas are full of bugs. You will probably experience a crash.

Jonathan: And Judy, you have a test device?

Judy: I have a test device. I’m fortunate enough. I have a 12 Pro test device which is now getting a little old, but it will still probably do the job. And so I will install it right away.

Jonathan: Yeah, it’s all right if you have a test device.

I find that there’s an interesting curve to these betas, normally. So Mike’s absolutely right. When you get developer beta 1, you might be lucky to enter your PIN when the phone boots up even. You know, that’s how dodgy it can be sometimes. And then, by 2 or 3, it’s starting to get a little bit better. But then, I find it really bottoms out at about beta 5. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but it gets worse again. And then, it seems to start picking up.

But the dilemma that we have is that if we don’t get in as early as possible on the ground floor to try and test these things, then we really lessen the likelihood of Apple fixing things on time because they tend to do a lot of big fixes at the beginning. And then, the further they go through, the more conservative they become, I guess, because you know, they consider they’re getting ready to ship.

So for those who do have a test device, and for whom the phone isn’t mission critical, it’s probably a good idea to at least wait for the public beta, which is not till next month, so there’ll be some edges ironed out.

But if you’re living on the edge, try to live on the edge of a different phone from the one you use every day would be what I’d say. I’ve borrowed Bonnie’s old iPhone 14 for the purpose. so I’ll put beta 1.

There’s supposed to be a bunch of new voices this year for VoiceOver.

Mike: That’s always interesting to see the reaction when the details will finally leak as to what those voices are.

Jonathan: Yes.

Mike: It totally surprised me last time. And that was the number one thing. People were talking about all the new voices when they had Eloquence in there.

Jonathan: Was that last year, or the year before?

Mike: It might have been a couple of years back. Jonathan: Yeah.

Mike: It was like all these amazing things. But the one thing that everyone pounced on was the new voices. [laughs]

Jonathan: Yes, yeah. Eloquence was just such an amazing surprise. So anyway, I’m sure Mastodon will be full of that.

So then, they went on to talk about home and audio stuff. When you don’t want to speak to Siri and you’re wearing AirPods, you’ll be able to nod or shake your head. Nod your head, yes. Shake your head, no. That’s pretty neat.


Mike: Yes, that will be useful. I will probably end up doing that. There are circumstances when you can ask a question innocuously enough. But then, you don’t want to keep on speaking. You could at least complete a task with yes or no imperatives. You know, if things suddenly get quiet in the room that was suddenly full of noise before. So yeah, I can see the usefulness of that.

Jonathan: Voice isolation is coming to the AirPods. And if that was a genuine demo, that’s very very good voice isolation they’ve got there.

For those who didn’t hear the keynote, there was a lot of background noise. This woman had just come out of a meeting. She was on a phone call, and they turned the voice isolation on, and it was pretty good.

Actually, I demonstrated a trick to turn this on for people who use the Phonak hearing aids that I just upgraded to, and it really does make a difference when you’re in, say, a noisy airport or something like that. So good to see that arrive in AirPod land.

Personalized spatial audio has been extended to gaming. you’ll love this, Mike.

Mike: It sounds good in practice. I still have yet to manage to get the personal spatial audio set up properly on my AirPods Pro 2. I keep trying it, and it keeps not quite getting my headspace, or my ear or something, and I can’t complete the setup. So yeah, they have to figure out a way to simplify that process. [laughs]

Jonathan: Does it work for you, Judy?

Judy: I haven’t tried it.

Jonathan: Okay. What about you, Heidi? Have you got AirPods Pro 2, or something?

Heidi: No. I have AirPods, but not the Pro version.

Jonathan: Oh, we’ll have to do something about that.

Heidi: Oh, yeah?


Jonathan: That can be your appearance fee.

Heidi: Oh, sweet. Well, if we’re talking about appearance fees, Judy just said my phone was getting old.


Jonathan: Oh what have I started?

Mike: She’ll cheerfully buy a set of AirPod Pros if you pick up the tab for the next iPhone, Dad.


Jonathan: Right. I’m going to move right along at this point.


Jonathan: Apple TV has a new feature, and they’re calling it Insights. And this is where you’re watching something, you’re curious about hey, I’ve seen that actor in another show. You can do something with the control center or whatever, and find out more.

I really like the For All Mankind. For All Mankind is such a good show.

Anybody else watching? Oh, you’re watching it, aren’t you, Heidi?

Heidi: Yup. Yeah, it’s very good.

Jonathan: It is. And I mean, they seem to have a pretty expensive soundtrack budget. And there have been times when I’ve thought, what is that song? Like the version of Don’t Be Cruel that they played in some of the seasons. It’s a very mellow, laid-back kind of version of Don’t Be Cruel. It took me a while to track that down. Who sang it? I think it might have been Billy Squires who sang it, the I Can Help Man. But if it’s right there on the Apple TV, that’d be pretty nice. So that’s a fun feature.

Enhanced dialog using machine learning, of course, and it gives greater vocal clarity. Why don’t they just mix their soup properly in the first place?

Judy: [laughs]

Heidi: Yeah.

Jonathan: [laughs]

Heidi: Oh my goodness!

Jonathan: Yeah. That’d be interesting because Sonos has a feature like that too in their soundbars. So it’d be interesting to see what happens when you turn both of them on.


Jonathan: There’s a redesigned fitness app for the big screen. Anybody using Apple Fitness regularly?

Mike: I gave it a run through. I haven’t really used it as much. But you know, the mindfulness stuff they added kind of tempted me to give it a look for that, and some of the fitness things.

I don’t know. I still think they should take another look at offering more in terms of describing workouts and stuff like that ahead of time, so that you can go over the descriptions before you do the workout. So that’s, I think, the real big missing piece to really make it more overall accessible.

They’ve added little hints that VoiceOver can give you, in addition to the instructions. But I don’t know, that isn’t quite enough for me.

Judy: I agree with you. I don’t think it’s enough. And the little hints are things you really would know anyway. It’s not very helpful.

Jonathan: Yeah. I’ve got it with my Apple One subscription, but I haven’t used it much. I’ve done the mindfulness a little bit. But again, I actually think that the Calm app, 10% Happier, and Headspace are better at that, too. But because of my busy life that I’ve been living the last 5 years or so, when I get on the treadmill, I tend to be either reading email, or listening to a podcast or something, and just rocking away.

Speaking of fitness, let’s talk about WatchOS 11. We’re all hanging out for the new Apple Watch because I have pretty credible sources telling me that the new Apple Watch is going to have a blood pressure sensor, and that Apple is taking quite a conservative approach to this. They’re not going to actually tell you what your blood pressure is, but they will, in the first instance, tell you if your blood pressure is starting to go up or something like that, like when the Amex bill comes.


Jonathan: So that would be cool. But in the meantime, we’ve got the operating system.

There’s this new training mode, and it lets you assess how your workouts are impacting your body over time. And you can now adjust your activity.

Oh, before we go on to that, so can you tell me anything about this training app, Heidi? Can we see it?

Heidi: We saw some graphs and stuff, and it shows you where you’re trending, and how your recent workout compares to that, and if suddenly, you’ve put in way more effort than you usually do. So they’re like oh, maybe you’re going too hard. You might strain yourself, and stuff like that. I don’t know.

Jonathan: Okay.

You can now pause your workouts, and you can also adjust your activity ring goals for certain days. That’s been a big weakness of the Apple Watch. But no expert expects you to do major workouts 7 days a week, so I think this is a very good thing.

And the other thing, and again, I thought of you because you’re on a big plane tonight, Judy, is that you can now pause your rings without any kind of punishment because when you fly, it actually takes a lot of thought not to break your activity streak.

Judy: I had a colleague who was all worried about this on our flight over, and she had 1,600 consecutive days, and didn’t want to break it.

So what she did was turn off timezone adjustment, so that her watch thought she was in a different day than she really was. Apparently, that worked. [laughs]

Jonathan: What you do, well, what I do, when you’re going from the US to New Zealand, say, from the northern hemisphere to the southern, you skip a day. But usually, you do get to midnight in the day that you’re skipping while you’re on the plane.

Judy: Right.

Jonathan: And what I do then is immediately at midnight, when the time’s clicked over, I start an other workout. And even if you just sit there for 30 minutes, if your exercise limit’s 30 minutes, it will ping. And you can sit there a lot longer, and your calories will eventually get there, and you’ll not break your streak.

Judy: [laughs]

Jonathan: You can also reduce your calories for the day. You can go in and adjust your goal downward, just for that day. And then, adjust it back up and not break your streak. But it takes thought, you see. And I’m a sad little person for having figured out how to get around this because my little activity streak means so much to me.


Jonathan: What’s next?

New Vitals app lets you check in on your most important health data. I’m not clear how that’s much different. Like if I go into the health app at the moment, I’ve got a whole lot of stuff in my favorites, and I can skim that.

Judy: Yeah, it’s not different.

Jonathan: Yeah. Is it apparent what the difference is, Heidi?

Heidi: I think it’s just they were talking particularly about overnight vitals, so like while you sleep. But I think it’s just a summary comparing everything all at once, so you can see if everything’s tracking or if something was off, rather than looking at each thing individually.

Jonathan: Okay. It’s the everything everywhere all at once app.


Heidi: Yeah.

Jonathan: And then, there’s a lot more data now that lets you track gestation during pregnancy, and that’s really cool. We had a CD-ROM when you were on the way, Heidi. I don’t know if you remember what a CD-ROM was.

Judy: [laughs]

Heidi: I remember a CD-ROM. I just don’t remember being on the way.


Jonathan: And it was called the 9-Month Miracle. It was so cool. We loved it. We were just so into it all. So yeah, this is kind of cool to have all that data on your watch.

Smart stacks have become even smarter, and they can do things like when the weather forecast makes it clear that precipitation is on the way, it will prioritize the precipitation widget. I don’t know if it gave any other examples on the screen, but that’s a good one.

Check in. That now also works on the Apple Watch. This is a very nice feature where I guess, there are two ways you can use it, and it’s been on the phone for a while now. One is where you know somebody’s expected home at a certain time, and you can set that up to check in either when they do make it, or if there’s been some sort of delay. And the other is for, say, an elderly relative, if you need to check in with them, I think it is. Yeah. So there’s some cool functionality there. And now, it’s on the watch.

The one that really interested me from a blindness perspective was the very briefest of mentions. They’re made of turn-by-turn directions for routes that you’ve created yourself. Now, that’s pretty big for the blind community.

Mike: Yeah, that would be useful. I presume they’re trying that in with maps.

Judy: Yeah, that would be great.

Jonathan: Yeah, yeah, because you create those routes, say, in a wide-open space. And if you can get the turn-by-turn after you’ve created them, that is pretty cool indeed.

So let’s move on to iPad, which is a pretty brief one. The iPadOS 18, a lot of the same features as are in iOS 18, and a lot of the changes that they talked about are aesthetics. People, every time a new iPad comes out, there’s a slew of reviews and it says things like great hardware, let down by the software.

What do people want on the iPad that they don’t have? Do they basically want a touchscreen Mac? Is that really what they’re after? They want MacOS on that thing?

Heidi: I think some people do, yeah.

Jonathan: Because you have an iPad. You saved up, and you bought yourself one. What did you think of it?

Heidi: Oh. I love my iPad, and I like how it works, I think. I’m not like an iPad power user, and those are the people asking for more. I think it works really well as it is for how I use it.

Jonathan: What did you think of the aesthetic changes?

Heidi: They seem quite nice. They, as always, hyped them up to be a bit bigger than they probably are.

Jonathan: Yeah. I was going to say, it was funny how they were a bit self-deprecating about the calculator finally coming to the iPad.


Jonathan: That was just such a bizarre oversight, all these years.

Judy: They should be embarrassed.

Jonathan: Yes.

Mike: Oh, yeah.

Jonathan: Finally, you get a calculator.


Jonathan: Now, ?

Heidi: But, ?

Jonathan: Yes, yes, you’re going to say what I was going to say. Go ahead.

Heidi: But they added this cool thing called math notes.

Jonathan: Oh, yeah. I wasn’t going to say that. Okay.

Heidi: Cool. So I don’t know if it’s necessarily great from a blindness perspective. But from a Heidi perspective, I would have loved this in university.

So you can handwrite out equations. And then it solves them for you. And then, you can have variables, and you can adjust things, and it can generate graphs. And it’s just like so math geeky and cool. And I was like just geeking out over how awesome it was.

Jonathan: Right.

Heidi: But it’s all done with the Apple pencil and handwriting, so I don’t know how friendly it is.

Mike: Well, I mean, presuming you can still use the regular on-screen keyboard for notes, then perhaps, some of this would be applicable still that way.

Heidi: Yeah.

Jonathan: Now, the big one. The big one that I think is just? People overuse the word game-changer. As do I. But this is seriously huge. And I presume this applies to iPhone, even though it came up in the iPad bit.

This is the bit about SharePlay. Now, when you are sharing your screen, you can ask for permission to gain remote control of an iPad or an iPhone. Now for Aira or someone that you trust who needs to assist you, like if I, for example, have got an inaccessible app and I just absolutely have to get through and screen recognition is not working, I can call one of my incredible bananas, and get them to share their screen, except my Android-using son. He’s very sensible. He can’t help because he’s gone on Android. but everybody can. They can request access to my screen and actually control the iPhone. So the screen sharing isn’t new but the remote control is new, and that is a huge deal.

Judy: But they didn’t say it’s going to be on iPhone. I mean, could it be that it’s just iPad?

Jonathan: It’s a good question. SharePlay is on iPhone, though, isn’t it?

Mike: Yeah.

Jonthan: And I think screen sharing is on iPhone.

Judy: Yes, yes.

Jonathan: So yeah, that got me curious why it popped up in the iPad section.

Mike: Well, they kind of did the reverse earlier. Like they had everything in the iOS, and then they just briefly say, you know, all of this is coming to iPad as well. So they do that The other way.

Jonathan: Yes, so we’ll get some clarity on that. But if you are an iPad user, for certain, then the SharePlay thing will let you request remote control of someone else’s device and have someone else remote control yours. That’s amazing. And I’m sure that the people at Aira will be celebrating this.

Judy: Then, we’ll get RIM for iOS.

Jonathan: Well, I was going to talk about that in the context of MacOS Sequoia. How do you spell that? How do you spell Sequoia?

Mike: I used to know.

Judy: S-E-Q-U-O-I-A?

Jonathan: Is it? Oh, okay.

Judy: I think so.

Jonathan: Right. Did you not write it down, Heidi?

Heidi: As I mentioned before, ?

Jonathan: Oh, alright. You had a little crisis with your rebooting.

Heidi: Yeah. My computer crashed, and I seem to have lost a huge chunk of screenshots from the whole Mac section.

Jonathan: Oh well, there you go.

Because they’ve got this iPhone mirroring in macOS Sequoia. And I mean, when it started off, they were talking about you can see your iPhone notifications. And I thought well, we’ve been able to do that with, what’s that? PhoneLink on Windows for a while now.

But then, they went much deeper, and you can actually open the app and do all sorts of things. And you can control your iPhone completely from your Mac, even if your iPhone is some distance away, and all this wondrous stuff. So effectively, if you came in with RIM onto a Mac, you could then control the iPhone that was connected to that Mac, right?

Mike: Sounds like that would work.

Jonathan: Don’t see why it wouldn’t.

Heidi: Yeah.

Jonathan: Don’t see why it wouldn’t. So that’s exciting.

So your iPhone notifications are mirrored, a whole bunch of stuff. So this is the iPhone mirroring. We’ve had this for Apple Watch for a wee while on the iPhone. You can actually drive your Apple Watch from the phone. That’s a pretty nice feature.

Judy: Oh, right. Yeah.

Jonathan: Now, who is apple Sherlock to this year? The answer is 1password. 1password has been Sherlocked, and there is a new Password app. It’s just called Passwords. What’s interesting is it’s available on all the Apple products. And I thought to myself, bah! Not interesting to me because it’s not on Windows. And then, they said ah, we hear you. We hear you, Jonathan. It’s on the iCloud for Windows app, too. I don’t know about you guys, but I find the iCloud for Windows app?

Judy: Still pretty difficult to use.

Jonathan: It’s a dodgy accessibility experience.

Judy: Very.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Judy: And it always distresses me every time they talk about the accessibility is in the core of Apple. Yeah. And then you’ve got things like iCloud for Windows, which is almost impossible to use. Why don’t they care about that?

Jonathan: Because it’s Windows, I think.

Heidi: They want you to get a Mac.

Jonathan: Yeah.

I’ve been having this robust discussion with them about? I subscribed to the Apple premium podcast feature. You’ll be well aware of this, Heidi. Because some people just wanted the convenience of paying for Living Blindfully plus through Apple Podcasts, and it just gets charged to their Apple account.

The process of uploading content is just horribly inaccessible. Once you go beyond Apple’s native operating systems and you get to their web properties or their Windows stuff, they have serious issues. Yeah, I think is a little bit better than it used to be, but iCloud for Windows is not much better.

So anyway, we’ll have to play with this new Passwords app. And 1password will have to articulate its value proposition, as we say.

Safari has a souped-up reader mode. It will give you a little table of contents at the top of the reader mode. It’ll give you an article summary, presumably using Apple intelligence.

Anything else of interest in safari that stood out for people?

Mike: not from a blindness perspective.

I like that reader mode. It should be really good.

Judy: Sounded nice, though. Yeah.

Jonathan: Yeah. Alright, so that’s the Mac.

Let’s talk about Apple Intelligence. this is the big thing that everybody was waiting for because there was enormous pressure on apple to respond. People were kind of perceiving Apple to be a bit out of touch. And Siri has been in need of an overhaul for some time. So there was a lot riding on this.

Their big pitch is that Apple understands you, your needs, the relationships you have, and your habits. So it’s more than just sort of gimmicky things. This is about improving real things that matter to your life, and the people in your life.

And of course, they wrapped it up in branding, all to do with keeping on the device as much as possible, going to the cloud in a very secure way that doesn’t cause your data to contribute to the training of a large language model. And that is their pitch, privacy at every step.

So should we just go around and talk a bit more about Apple Intelligence and whether people are really excited about this, or whether it was enough? Shall we start with you, Heidi? Was it enough?

Heidi: I mean, I think there’s some really cool stuff in there.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Heidi: Enough, I don’t know. But it’s hard to evaluate without actually using it.

Jonathan: I mean, dude! I bought a whole lot of Apple shares when the stock plummeted a few weeks ago for some reason, and I thought WWDC is going to make them go way up again, so I hope it’s enough.


Heidi: Okay.

Jonathan: What do you reckon, Judy?

Judy: I like the fact that Siri is going to ask you before it goes off to consult something in the cloud, that it’s not going to just do it.

Heidi: Yeah.

Jonathan: Yup.

Judy: And you’ll know the difference.

Jonathan: Yeah. And Mike, is it a compelling proposition for you?

Mike: You know, it really sounds like it would be. I like the thought of more of this going on your device. And that’s the thing. If you have older iPhones than an iPhone 15 Pro, I’m not even sure if the regular iPhone 15s, I don’t think it can.

Jonathan: No, it has to be the Pro.

Mike: Yeah. That’s the thing. I guess some of the features will be shipped out to the cloud in Apple’s secure fashion, so that you can still use some of it on older phones. But there’s probably going to be a bunch of stuff, like hopefully not the writing stuff, that just won’t run on your device at all without you upgrading to the latest and greatest phones. And how soon is that even going to emerge?

I like the idea, and I like that Apple is firmly in the privacy camp and staying there so that I’ll be able to trust that my info and ideas aren’t filtering out before I’m ready for them to. I very much like that.

So if I was going to trust anyone with this AI stuff , it would be Apple in terms of privacy. They have the most to lose if something goes wrong there. So from that standpoint, I like it. I do like that it’s asking before sending your data off to third-party services.

Judy: Yes.

Mike: I like their stance on that.

And just hopefully, they have everything opt-in rather than opt-out to make sure that people know before they do something that jeopardizes their privacy that they’re about to do it. So long as they handle that stuff right, I think yeah.

The Siri stuff, sounds like they’ve done good stuff there. Looking forward to messing with that. So yeah, I think this will at least put them back to square 1 with everyone else. I can’t think of anything other than the privacy angle that really sets them apart, and possibly ahead. But that’s certainly, to my way of thinking, gets them back in the game.

Jonathan: So who among you is using AI regularly, and has it rocked your world and changed the way you work at this point?

Judy: I would say I use it fairly regularly. I am seriously mistrustful because what I would like it to do the most is describe physical objects, and it’s what it’s the least good at. If I want to know what’s outside my window or have it describe a room, it talks about my cozy living room.


Judy: And it’s fine. It could say anything, and it would probably be more or less right.

But what I’d like to have it do is be able to describe devices and thermostats in hotels and things like that, and it gets it wrong a lot.

Jonathan: Yes. Well, what you really want to get concerned is when it starts describing your living room as cluttered and well-lived in, or something.


Judy: Yeah.

Jonathan: What about you, Mike? Are you using AI very much?

Mike: I’m a dabbler, basically. I ask it questions, and I have gotten hold of this Pi AI recently that I’ve been quizzing a little bit and having conversations that are creepily close. You know, it’s just different enough that it creeps you out a bit, but it’s getting better, I notice. So that was a recent experiment of mine.

I’m not ready to trust it to do work for me. I’d never say hey, respond to this email because I don’t have the time, right? I want to write the words that someone sees if I’m responding anyway. [laughs] So I’m a little leery of that, but I will certainly give these things a spin.

And certainly, for research purposes,, it’s getting, I guess, a bit better at getting information, as long as it can give me its sources. And I know it’s not just pulling stuff out of thin air, right? Perplexity is kind of good at that.

Jonathan: It is very good.

Mike: Yeah.

Jonathan: Yeah. I like Perplexity, but I still don’t trust it completely. I always try to verify with other sources.

Mike: Yeah.

Jonathan: Are you using AI, Heidi?

Heidi: No.

Jonathan: No? You’re giving it a pass?

Heidi: No, I don’t feel like seeking it out. I feel like if it becomes just naturally part of my life, that’s cool. But I’m not going out of my way to play with it.

Jonathan: Okay.

So the iPhone will be able to prioritize notifications and summarize notifications as well.

As Mike was referring to earlier, there will be writing tools right across the operating system. So just as one thing that’s always been great about Apple operating systems is that they do have universal things like a spell checker everywhere and a dictionary everywhere, that kind of thing. And there’ll be other writing tools that can check your grammar and rewrite something to be clearer, or something like that.

You can create your own images as well, and they show some examples of where you can have a lot of fun with that. Because it knows about the people in your life, you can create some pretty funky personalized images. So that’s kind of cool.

I get a bit nervous about this because I don’t like sharing content whose quality I can’t verify.

Judy: Right, yes. [laughs]

Jonathan: So you have to have the AI describe itself back to you, I guess. What is this picture like?

Mike: Yeah.

Jonathan: I liked the fact that it gave an example of telling it to find items that have been sent to you, regardless of the app that it was sent in. So sometimes, most of the time, I email Judy. Occasionally, I’ll text. And if I’m thinking, you know, what’s that thing Judy told me about this particular device? I have to go searching in, you know, Spotlight Search, which I’ve never particularly liked. And I might find it, but this is much easier. So that sounds like an actual practically useful feature just to get to the information.

They’re placing a strong emphasis on privacy. So there’s on-device processing whenever possible, and you’ve got to have a 15 Pro, Pro Max, and then one of the newer iPads, right? What’s the M chip?

Mike M series chips.

Jonathan: Right. Yeah.

Heidi: Anything from the M1.

Jonathan: Anything M1 upwards. Okay.

Heidi: Yeah.

Jonathan: And the line that stuck out for me was that AI, which they’re calling Apple Intelligence, (It’s clever, isn’t it?) is aware of your personal data without collecting your personal data. And I think that’s something that will really resonate with people.

So then, we talked about the private cloud.

I made copious notes because there was so much.

The siri update is huge, and you can easily switch between text and voice. Is there some sort of button on the screen?

Judy: That was kind of interesting, yeah.

Jonathan: Yeah. Did you see if there was, in the Siri interface, Heidi, a button that you would double tap that to switch?

Heidi: I feel like there was. I’m just trying to find it. [laughs]

Jonathan: Right.

Mike: Yeah. Because right now, you’d have to go into accessibility settings.

Judy: Right.

Jonathan: Yeah, switch back and forth.

Mike: Switch to type to Siri. So this would be nice. I like that thought of just being able to switch that and surreptitiously ask Siri questions.

Jonathan: Yes. And the other thing that’s really good, particularly for new users, is that Siri’s now a lot more aware of what’s going on on your phone. And you’re supposed to be able to ask it questions about how to use a feature of the product and potentially, I guess, configure various aspects of the product. That will be a very helpful training tool if it works all right.

Mike: And that was a bit, … There was something in that. I thought it said it knew about thousands of products. So that would be more than Apple’s entire range, and it sounds to me like maybe third-party things were in there as well, which would be great. Like if it’s like a wiki how that you can just talk to and get step-by-step, this is how you do this. That would be really nice.

Judy: I’ve had many instances where I’ve asked Siri how to do something on the phone, and it just says I don’t know anything about that. It’s like, you want to know about your own devices? Yeah. And it doesn’t.

Jonathan: Information about everything Apple is on

Judy: Yeah, right.

Jonathan: It’s ridiculous! Ridiculous!

If you get texted an address, for example, you can just tell Siri to add that to the context.

Now, I don’t think some of that stuff is coming right away. There’s a lot that’s being phased in, but it’s contextually-aware. Essentially, it knows what’s on the screen, and you can give it a contextually aware instruction there.

What else can it do? Just going through all the different things. The AI will draft responses for you. It’ll adjust your writing tone. So sometimes, you might want something a bit more formal, so it will be on top of that.

We talked about summarizing notifications. It can reduce interruptions by going into a special priority notification focus mode. I actually set this up myself called D&D with VIP. And when I’m working away and I don’t want to be bothered with the gazillion breaking news apps I have, I let certain contacts through, and maybe one or two apps through, and that’s all. But apparently, AI will make my focus redundant.

Heidi: I don’t think it will make it redundant. I think it’s just done in a different way. So if you get a text from anyone, even if they’re not a VIP, saying you need to do something by [2:30] PM and it’s like 2 PM, it will push it to you.

Jonathan: Right.

Judy: Hmm.

Mike: I like the thought. I just don’t know if I’d trust that much automation. Like, I’d be worried that it would miss something like that that I never knew about.

Heidi: Yeah.

Jonathan: See? We’re a bunch of Luddites.


Jonathan: We’re going to have to surrender to the force and trust this thing.

Mike: [laughs]

Judy: Yeah.

Jonathan: Now, really good to see transcription in the Notes app. And I got to say, the Apple transcription stuff is coming an awful long way. If you read the transcripts that that horrible Apple Podcasts app is generating, I mean, it’s a nasty app, but the transcripts are fantastic. They’re remarkably accurate, given that they’re machine-generated transcripts. So if we’re getting that kind of quality transcription in the Notes app, then that’s very useful.

And the thing that really, I was not expecting this at all, and I took a deep breath and I thought, finally! You will be able to record phone calls in the phone app, and you’ll be able to get those phone calls transcribed. And apparently, it does tell everybody on the call. So I presume it’s like Zoom where it says recording in progress.

Mike: Recording in progress, yeah. [laughs]

Jonathan: I figure that when I call a business, particularly your phone company, your internet company or whatever, and they say your call may be recorded for quality assurance, I should be allowed to record the call too, because so often, they promise you something and then you get into a major quibbling contest about what they promised and didn’t deliver. So we should all have that recording, and we should all have the right to make that recording. So I’m very jazzed about this. [laughs] Power to the people.

And ChatGPT is built in. They inked a deal with, what’s his name? Sam? And other ones are coming soon because there was some talk that they were talking to Google Gemini for a while.

I don’t know about you guys, but I think Google’s really struggling in this AI land. It doesn’t seem to be keeping up. I’m worry about my alphabet shares.

Judy: [laughs] Jonathan: And other models will be coming.

So that’s a brief, well, not so brief, recap of everything. It was a very meaty keynote. Sometimes, I kind of think like we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel when we do these summaries. But there’s a lot here this time, isn’t there?

Judy: Yes.

Mike: Oh, yeah.

Jonathan: Yeah. Is there anything that you think, oh, man, I can’t wait until this comes out. I wish it was here now. Is there anything life-changing in here?

Judy: No.


Mike: I think there’s a lot of stuff that’s going to be very very helpful, if it works right. And Apple had really better have its security house in order now. If they’re textually aware of what’s on your screen, no one else can have that privilege other than you and the AI that’s trying to help you. So they have to be really careful with that. They have so much to lose if something goes wrong with that, and ideas leak from someone’s iPhone that involves this AI stuff. That could topple a lot.

I’m kind of glad they’re in that position because it really gives me the ability to trust. I’d have all these hangups with these other companies that the AI is going to be used in turn. I like the privacy angle. I think that’s going to help, especially as they take these first steps, right? It’ll add that extra bit of safety, which will get people using this stuff. And then, we’ll get to the point where Apple is ready to implement everything on its own servers and its own AI, everything. It seems clear to me that’s what they’re working towards.

Jonathan: That trust is very hard won and very easily lost. So I was going to have to be extremely careful because if stuff gets into the wild about privacy breaches and stuff like that, all of that good trust is down the toilet. It is so precarious. So they’ll be aware of that, that this is a very strong element of their brand.

Right. Well, thank you very much. Was there anything visual that we haven’t covered, Heidi, that you wanted to slot in there? We really appreciate your amazing descriptions.

Heidi: Oh, well, you’re very welcome. We did fail to mention the new genmojis, they called them, where you can use AI to generate a very specific emoji if there isn’t one for the occasion. I was just thinking, I wonder if it will also generate decent descriptions of them because like right now, the emojis, they all have nice names. And I’m hoping that these ones also do.

Jonathan: Good on you. I made a note to mention that, and then didn’t. I really hope a lot of these images that are being generated from a lot of this Apple Intelligence have alt text associated with them.

Heidi: Yeah.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Judy: We’ll have to test that in the betas.

Jonathan: We absolutely will. That’s a critical issue. And the AI should be able to describe them. I mean, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Judy: Right.

Jonathan: Well, we look forward to being back for the hardware stuff. I do wonder whether there might be a few Apple Intelligence features that require the jolly old iPhone 16 something. That wouldn’t surprise me.

Judy: [laughs] Yeah.

Jonathan: So that’ll be happening.

The developer betas are out now. Be very careful with those. Just a little bit of advice.

Public betas coming next month, and it’s all going to be a very exciting season.

We are, of course, really interested to know what you think. Are you jazzed about this? Are you having a yawn? What’s your take on what Apple have said? Do get in touch and we’ll play a selection of your comments on episode 287. is the email address. And you can also call the listener line on 864-60-Mosen, 864-606-6736.

Does anybody know, is there an area code 286? I didn’t look it up.

Judy: Dunno.

Jonathan: No? Alright. I could ask Siri. [laughs] I’ll report back on that the next episode.

Thank you all very much. I really appreciate it.

Mike: It’s a pleasure.

Jonathan: Alright. Thanks.


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