Apple’s announcements at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) focused on privacy, software polish and performance, and quality experiences. None of the announcements are revolutionary, but brands and marketers need to pay attention to the new features coming to iOS and macOS both because of the platforms’ popularity but also because, in one crucial case, it will have a deep impact on online advertising.

New Privacy Features Make Online Advertising Harder

Additional privacy features in the new macOS and Safari browser are bad news for marketers. After macOS 10.13 blocked ad tracking, Safari on macOS 10.14 Mojave will block by default Facebook ‘Like’ and ‘Comment’ features, which are major ways that Facebook tracks users around the web. Users will have to click these features to load them, relegating them to second-class status. Safari will also now deliver less uniquely identifying information about devices, making it harder to track your device, associate it with other data sources and target ads. With less and less detailed data about users, ad targeting and customer profiling will be more difficult.

Screen Time Prioritizes Quality Experiences

Created in response to calls to help curb digital distraction, the new Screen Time feature will help users track how much time they spend on their device and in apps, and set timers to limit usage. Parents can also apply Screen Time on their kids’ devices. If Screen Time catches on, time spent in digital experiences will become more precious; brands and marketers will have to increase the value of those experiences in the face of even-scarcer attention.

Siri Gets Smarter

Siri sports a new layer of smarts via Shortcuts. Supported by a companion app, Shortcuts lets Siri perform custom tasks, including multi-step commands. So a single phrase — “Hey Siri, I’m awake”—could turn on your downstairs lights, get the coffee pot running, tune your HomePod to a morning playlist and raise the thermostat. That’s cool, and useful, but isn’t enough to cut into the lead Alexa and Google Assistant still hold.

ARKit 2 Delivers Shared Experiences

ARKit 2 will improve the augmented reality features built into iOS 12 with better face tracking, object detection and graphics rendering. Even further, users on different phones will now be able to “see” the same AR object at the same time, which lays the groundwork for multiplayer games and shared AR experiences. A single AR experience seen by multiple users opens up new possibilities for branded and social AR content.

Other New Features: Group FaceTime, Grouped Notifications; Performance Boosts

It’s never possible to cover the hundreds of new features delivered at WWDC, but a few other notable highlights include: FaceTime now supports group video chats of up to 32 people; iOS notifications are grouped by app so they no longer cover the entire screen; “quiet” notifications appear in Notification Center, but not on the lockscreen (marketers must ensure that their notifications are valuable enough not to be silenced); Face ID now supports two faces on one device; watchOS 5 adds a Walkie Talkie feature for sending voice messages; the iPhone and iPad will run faster with apps launching up to 40% faster, the keyboard appearing up to 50% faster and the camera launching from the lockscreen up to 70% faster.


One much-rumored feature that appears to not have been delivered (or at least has yet to be announced) is expanded NFC support. This would have opened the NFC chip on iPhone beyond Apple Pay, allowing phones to open hotel room or car doors, or function as security badges, among other interactions. This could have been a big boost for marketers, but—at least as of this writing—it appears to not be in the cards for iOS 12.

iOS Apps Coming to the Mac

Developers will be able to port iOS apps that use the UIKit framework to the Mac later in 2019. This may seem more interesting as a sign of the further convergence of iOS and macOS, but it’s notable in its own right. It will allow brands that have invested in quality iOS apps to extend the apps to the Mac and give them a chance to grab crucial desktop and mental real estate.

Beta versions of iOS 12, macOS 10.14, watchOS 5, and tvOS 5 are all out now, with full versions coming as free upgrades this fall.

Author: Sam Costello, Associate Director/Business Analyst, Creative Technology & Innovation