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By Dan Moren

Five big app updates Apple didn’t discuss on stage

As always, Apple has only a limited amount of time during its WWDC keynote to discuss all the new features that it’s bringing to its software updates. Here are a few of the big announcements that didn’t make their way into the presentation but still got my attention.

Setting up the system

If you were doing a little macOS archaeology, you’d probably notice that the System Preferences app has been largely unchanged since the first version of Mac OS X back in 2001.

In macOS Ventura, it’s getting a major redesign, to bring it into parity with the Settings app on iOS and iPadOS. Part of that is a new name—System Settings—but the bigger part is an entirely new user interface that looks like its iOS/iPadOS counterpart: a scrolling sidebar of various sections, such as Wi-Fi or Appearance, which should make it easier to find what you’re looking for—especially if you’re coming from another Apple device.

Time for the Weather

In another big step for parity, Apple has brought a few long-running iOS and iPadOS apps to the Mac: Clock and Weather. The former will offer world time functionality, timers, and alarms, including letting you set them via Siri.

The Weather app, which was announced to be coming to iPad at long last as well, brings all the features of that app to the Mac, including maps, animations, and notifications for incoming weather. These are places that the Mac has often felt like a second-class citizen, so it’s great to see that they’ll get the same functionality that we’ve long had on other platforms (though it’d be nice if they also offered some more Mac-specific features, like, say, showing the temperature or other metrics in the menu bar).

Remind me again…

Both Reminders and Notes got big updates at WWDC last year, but the engineers aren’t resting on their laurels; there are a couple of significant improvements to Reminders this year as well.

The one I’m personally looking forward to is Templates. If you find yourself repeatedly creating a list for a specific purpose—say, a packing list for when you go out of town—you can now create and share templates of those lists, which let you reuse them without having to re-make them over and over again.

You can also pin your most important lists to the top of the app, which is a helpful way to keep those at the forefront, and view a smart list that shows you all your completed tasks. As someone who uses Reminders a lot, these are big potential quality of life improvements.

Note to self

Notes isn’t getting left out of the fun either. It’s got new Smart Folders options that let you collect notes by criteria like date, attachments, and more. There’s now end-to-end encryption of notes with your password or passcode. And you can filter notes based on certain qualities as well.

The iPad also gets a Handwriting Straightening feature in the Notes app, which will probably be a huge boon to people like me who have terrible handwriting.

Photo finish

While iCloud Shared Photo Library might be the big Photos-related news in the keynote, the app also got a number of additional improvements. It can now find duplicate photos in your library and gather them together for suggested deletion, letting you clean up your library and potentially save space.

Both the Hidden and Recently Deleted albums are now locked by default, accessible only with an account password, Touch ID, or Face ID. And there’s a new systemwide Photo Picker.

The Memories feature has also gotten some upgrades, with new types (This Day in History), the ability for Apple Music subscribers to add any track to the videos, and the ability to turn both Memories and Featured Photos in the Photos app and related widgets.

A lot more

There’s way more in all of these operating system releases, including security updates that don’t require restarts, emoji support for dictation, and Hide My Email options within apps. Of course, we’ll be combing through all of this and taking a closer look at these and other announcements throughout WWDC, so stay tuned.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at dan@sixcolors.com. His latest novel, The Nova Incident, comes out in July and is available to pre-order now, so do it!]

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