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All things Apple: The latest announcements from the tech giant – USA TODAY

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On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast:
Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference wrapped up on Friday with the announcement of new software (I.O.S. 16) and new features to Imessage. But are these changes enough to keep people devoted to the tech giant and it’s ecosystem? Or is the thrill gone?
The team at 5 Things sat down with USA TODAY tech guru Brett Molina to get his take on what’s new with Apple. He talks about what he liked, what was meh and what he didn’t like from the WWDC.
To read more from Brett Molina about the WWDC, click here.
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To follow Brett Molina on Twitter, click here.
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Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text. 
James Brown:                  Hello, and welcome to Five Things. I’m James Brown. It’s Sunday, June 12th, 2022. On Sundays. We do things a bit differently focusing on one topic instead of five. And this week we’re talking about Apple with USA Today’s tech guru, Brett Molina. Hi Brett.
Brett Molina:                   Hey there. Thanks for having me.
James Brown:                  So I wanted to start by sharing something with you. I’ve been an Apple fan for a long time. I bought an iBook when I was in college. I named it Banana.
Brett Molina:                   Nice.
James Brown:                  I have an iPad Mini. I had at least three or four iPod Nanos. I think the last one was stolen out of an old car of mine. I have four iPhones in my life. I’ve bought two MacBook Pros. I’m recording this on a MacBook Pro, but honestly for me, the thrill is gone. And I know that Apple sales have stagnated over the last few years. And I think part of it for me is, and I think this fits in with the announcements, is this ever-changing battery of, “We must change the port. We must change the cord. We must force you to buy all this extra stuff.”
                                          I guess my point is with so many changes constantly with the product, I feel a bit gouged. I feel like Apple is taking advantage of their seamless one operating system, one manufacturer advantage to leverage me into spending more and more money on products that they choose me to spend it on. I can’t help but think it’s a bit greedy at this point. What are your thoughts on that?
Brett Molina:                   They certainly have the walled garden concept down to a tee, which is all their products obviously work seamlessly together. I remember back in the day before I had bought a Mac, I was on a PC and I was trying to use iTunes and trying to do stuff with that and it was a huge pain and it was not pleasant. And it’s funny how once you get all the Apple products, they work obviously so perfectly together. But yeah, if you even try to introduce something that’s non Apple it can be a headache. It’s not necessarily the most seamless process.
                                          It’s also interesting too, because they’re really big on accessories. They’re really big on adapters. I feel like they do really well with adapters and stuff, like with the MacBook, for example, where they had few reports on newer models and how you had to buy the adapter just to be able to use things like a monitor or anything else. And that was, again, extra money you had to pay.
                                          You have the lightning cable stuff and we recently saw the EU talk about how they’re trying to require a uniform charging cord for all portable devices, which is significant because if that’s the case that changes up a lot of what Apple does, because they’re pretty much the only ones that have, or they’re one of the few that have their own proprietary charging system with lightning. And that means a lot of people in the EU with iPhones, iPads, everything else, what do you do?
                                          But again, that gets back to now Apple can sell you another adapter, the adapter that allows you to charge with USBC and stuff like that. Obviously people with lightning connectors, they’ll still be able to charge their phones and stuff like that so it’s not going to be an issue there. But it is going to be interesting to see how this all changes. And whether, again, we get to a point where in the US, do we see the same thing?
                                          Because honestly, I would love the idea of having one cord that charges everything because it’s perfect. And again, how many people in their house have a drawer or somewhere in their house with dozens and dozens of cords that are wrapped up in a ball or something else? I know I have. I’m sure a lot of people do. And so the thought of that’s great, but again, back to Apple. I feel like that’s always been their thing where it’s like you’re not just buying the product, you’re buying that plus a handful of accessories, because it’s got to work with this and work with something else. And yeah, it just feels like a never ending cycle sometimes.
James Brown:                  What is the Worldwide Developers Conference and why should we care? How long has it been around?
Brett Molina:                   Oh, this has been around for several years now. This is an annual event that Apple has hosted where they bring together developers from all across their different platforms. Obviously it started with the Mac and it’s since expanded. Obviously iPhone came out in ’07s, so we’ve seen the huge ecosystem of developers and apps that has created. And then you have iPad. You have Apple Watch.
                                          It’s really just a place for developers to get together, to talk, just talk about Apple, app development, learn the new tools that Apple’s going to introduce that will allow them to either make their apps better or maybe create new experiences.
                                          It’s taken on importance of the last few years among consumers because Apple’s had this keynote where every year they’ve introduced the latest iOS and they talk a lot about, ‘here’s what your phone’s going to look like in the fall. Here’s what your tablet’s going to look like in the fall.” Back early on when the iPhone first came out, we saw this just fascinating consumer response. People were waiting in line for days. And so Apple’s had this really unique position where, when they announce a software update, people really pay attention to it. And so that’s why we’ve seen WWDC become bigger and not just, yeah, this is a place for developers to get together, but consumers can actually learn a lot about how’s my phone going to look in September? What new things can I do with it?
James Brown:                  What are your takeaways about the conference? The big change apparently is with text messages. Well, it’s not really text messages. It’s iMessages, right?
Brett Molina:                   Absolutely. I think that’s an important distinction that it’s about iMessage. And there are a couple caveats to this. If you are messaging with someone that’s using the Messages app on iPhone and they are both on iOS 16, then those features like edit a message or unsend something, those are available. If, say, I have an iPhone with iOS 16 and you have an iPhone with iOS 15 and I want to edit a message You won’t see it because you’re not up to date. And it’s also important too, if you are messaging someone on an Android phone, they don’t get the message. And it’s the reason why you see that green bubble all the time. It’s being sent as an SMS text message, which means, again, as it is now, once you send it’s sent and that’s it.
James Brown:                  So in order to enact such a change across platforms, it would take everybody using the same system I would imagine. And I don’t think that will happen.
Brett Molina:                   Well, see, that’s the thing. It’s how widely will people adopt this new version of iOS? I think it feels like most iPhone owners are pretty quick to update to the latest version, so it is likely. It could take a couple years too, before this becomes more widespread. Obviously as people upgrade their phones, they’re going to be on whatever the latest version of iOS is. So it could be a thing where over time, maybe in a year or two, we see a lot more people on those later versions of iOS and then that edit message, undo send becomes a lot more widespread.
James Brown:                  Do you think it’s necessary?
Brett Molina:                   I do, just because especially if you accidentally send a text to someone. Maybe you send a text to someone you regret in a you send it spur in the moment. You’re like, “Oh, I shouldn’t have sent that.” You pull it back. Or again, one of the first things I thought of when they talked about editing your messages was the auto correct phenomenon where your phones love to auto correct you.
                                          And sometimes you’re sending out a text or a message in a blur and it auto corrects and it sends you the wrong word. And so maybe it’s an awkward message or it’s just an annoying typo. It’s nice to be able to pop in and say, “Oh, let me just edit it real quick,” and it’s all set instead of sending five messages like, “Oh, I meant to say this,” and this whole thing. So yeah, I definitely do see a benefit to it.
James Brown:                  When you look at the other announcements, what did you like? What was meh and what did you hate?
Brett Molina:                   I think the one that jumped out to me was the lock screen stuff. I like the fact that they have finally caught on in a starting point with personalizing the way your phone looks. We’ve seen hints of this because there are apps like Widgetsmith, I believe that’s the name, where you can customize the actual icons on your phone and have a style that you prefer. I’m hoping it’s a step toward that. I like the fact that you can really personalize this.
                                          They’ve borrowed a lot from Apple Watch in how you have these smaller widgets. You know on your Apple Watch, if you have an Apple Watch, you might see the little icons in the corner that take you to the weather or to activity or things like that. Same thing on your iPhone. You can do that too, where you have custom fonts for the time, for the date, you can lay it out however you want. And then also you have these little mini widgets that give you information. I think that’s really great. It’s a really nice change to that experience.
                                          The meh stuff. I mean, I always go back to Apple Maps only because frankly, I just feel like Waze and Google are so far ahead in that space that it’s going to take a lot of convincing for me to feel like, “Oh wow, Apple Maps has finally made it.” Waze just feels so way ahead of everybody else, and Google Maps as well, that it’s hard for me to get honestly excited about anything related to Apple Maps.
                                          I won’t say I hate it, but it’s kind of a downside to the lock screen stuff. So if you’ve ever put a photo on your phone, the thing that drives me nuts is if you have faces on your lock screen wallpaper. The time blocks it, like you’re trying to hide their identity in some form. And they had a really cool feature where, if you take a photo in portrait mode, it actually brings the photo to the front. So the time can be in the background and the photo’s in front. It works with photos in portrait mode, or if there is a singular person that’s the center or the focus of a photo. If you have a group photo, you still have the same problem. It’s one of those things that’s always annoyed me. Again, it’s a downside kind of thing, but at some point I just want them to figure that out.
                                          The one thing I wish they had done too, is related to the lock screen, is have some kind of always on function. We’ve seen this with Android phones where it just shows you the time and you can see the time, the date, whatever, and it’s just on and it doesn’t seem to require as much battery life, but instead of having to pick up your phone or do anything like that, you just look over and now you know what time it is. So that’s what I took away, I think, from the keynote this year.
James Brown:                  Big picture. What’s the biggest challenge that you see down the pike for Apple?
Brett Molina:                   Oh boy. I think what’s going to be interesting is all the services they have and bringing that all together, because we’ve talked about this with the whole ecosystem and wanting to keep everyone within their realm. I’m going to be interested to see with the way the iPhone goes. One thing they’ve done, to their credit, is they have offered a wider range of iPhones at different models and ages. So your iPhone presumably lasts much longer. It almost feels like a laptop in a way. Even still to this day, in some respect with smartphones, people are so used to that two year cycle where every two years it’s get a new phone. It feels like though you can hold onto your phone, almost like you do with a computer, where you can hold onto it for several years, for the most part, and it’s still a really good phone and it’s really functional. Even older versions. You can get four, five years out of it and it’s still a really solid smartphone. So I’m be interested to see how that all plays out and also just to see what else they do with services.
                                          The other thing I’m fascinated by too, is all the stuff with Apple Wallet, where you can have your driver’s license on your phone, you can have your keys in your, phone. You can do that. I’m going to be real interested to see how quickly that’s adopted. I know Apple and a lot of these companies are very big on data and protecting your privacy and things like that. At the same time, I also feel like that’s a lot to put on one device. I already put quite a bit of info and data about myself on one device and obviously with other apps like health and things like that. Everything about you can be on your phone. I feel like we’re also getting to a point where it just feels like a lot.
James Brown:                  We may be approaching the creepy line.
Brett Molina:                   Kind of. And again, I think they see it as obviously convenience and making your life easier, but there’s also, for me, the skeptical side of do I really want all this info about me on one device? I don’t know.
James Brown:                  To that point, I went to a grocery store, I don’t know, six weeks ago maybe and I didn’t realize I forgot my wallet, but I have an iPhone and I have Apple Pay, so I was able to go to that. And I wonder if how close are we to like, man, are people just not going to carry a wallet at all?
Brett Molina:                   And again, that’s the way I felt once Apple started talking about being able to put your driver’s license on your phone. For now, it’s a very specific use case where, if you’re at the airport and you want to just verify who you are, you can use your phone and it has your basic information. But we are getting to that point where, how long before you need to bring a purse or a wallet or anything else, because it’s pretty much all there on your phone? And then what are the ramifications for that? If I get a speeding ticket and I get pulled over, do I just hand my phone over? How does that work? I think there’s so many layers of the way we use different things and there is convenience, but I also think there are other real world applications where it’s like, so what does it mean for me when I use it in this particular situation?
                                          And that’s obviously stuff that a lot of these companies are going to think about down the road, but again, it’s a lot of data on one device. Not to mention if you’re backing it up on different cloud services and things like that if you lose your phone. Because that’s the other thing. If you lose your phone, again, you can remotely wipe, erase, reset your phone if that ever happens. But again, it’s just that feeling of, “I’ve lost this device that has pretty much everything in my life.”
James Brown:                  Well, Brett Molina, thank you for joining me.
Brett Molina:                   Thanks for having me. It was a pleasure.
James Brown:                  If you liked the show, write us a review on Apple Podcast or wherever you’re listening and do me a favor. Share it with a friend. What do you think of the show and of Apple? Let me know at James Brown’s TV on Twitter, or email me at jabrown@usatoday.com. Thanks to Brett Molina for joining me and Alexis Gustin for her production assistance. Taylor Wilson will be back tomorrow morning with five things you need to know from Monday and for all of us at USA today, thanks for listening. I’m James Brown and as always, be well.

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