WWDC24: Apple Intelligence, Home Screen Customizations, Passwords App and More

Plus: Math Notes, Redesigned Photos App

Hey there!

Welcome to the weekend!

Apple's annual developer conference, WWDC, was held this week and kicked off on Monday with the keynote. There’s a ton of ground to cover so this edition is a little long. Just ahead:

  • Apple Intelligence

  • Major New Features & Updates

  • Other Noteworthy Improvements

  • Basic AF Podcast: WWDC Recap Show

I highly recommend checking out our keynote recap show on Basic AF, where Jeff and I discuss all the new features in-depth! More on that below.


Image credit: Apple

After months of rumors and anticipation, Apple debuted Apple Intelligence, its AI-driven and privacy-centered personal intelligence system for macOS, iOS, and iPadOS. Is it just another chatbot?

“You’ve gotta start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and figure out where you’re going to sell it.”

Steve Jobs

In the last newsletter, I said that Apple's special sauce lies in its ability to transform a technical feature into a practical solution that delivers tangible benefits. While we won't know until it ships and can see how well it actually works, I think it's heading in the right direction with Apple Intelligence.


Apple has focused on privacy for years, and it's no surprise it leaned heavily into privacy and security for AI.

  • On-device processing

  • Private Cloud Compute

  • Aware of personal data without collecting personal data

Apple aims to do most of the AI work on-device and through its new Private Cloud Compute infrastructure. The Private Cloud is powered by Apple Silicon, which includes hardware-level security features and a modified version of the core operating system that runs on iPhone/iPad and Mac. Apple will open the Private Cloud to third-party verification for confirmation that it’s not storing our data or using it beyond what it needs to process the request.

For requests that can’t be processed on-device or the Private Cloud, Apple Intelligence will pass them over to OpenAI’s ChatGPT after user approval to do so.


I was hoping that Apple would apply AI system-wide and make it available to third party apps. It’s done just that. After all, my Apple devices have access to all of my data so use it in ways that make my life easier.

Here’s a look at what’s included:


  • Better language understanding and contextual awareness (correct a mistake in what you said, follow up on a previous request)

  • Ability to take action in and across apps (send the pictures from the party Saturday to John)

  • On-screen awareness


  • Create custom Genmojis in Messages based on description you provide

  • Search for photos by describing what you’re looking for

  • Generate images in Image Playground

  • Use Image Wand to convert your sketch into an image

  • Make a custom Memory movie in Photos


  • Summaries (Email, Safari Reader, and more)

  • Grammar, spelling, and tone (very similar to Grammarly)

  • Rewrite existing text, or generate new

  • Smart Replies in Mail

You really need to see it in action to get a feel for how well integrated it appears to be. Apple has put together a five minute video that does a great job detailing things.

Apple Intelligence will be free and initallly available in U.S. English for macOS, iOS, and iPadOS. The beta starts this fall and is compatible with iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, iPad Pro and iPad Air with M1 or later, and any Mac with an M1 or later.

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Apple also announced iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS Sequoia, watchOS 11, and visionOS 2. Here’s a rundown of the highlights:


Image credit: Apple

The inflexible grid of icons has been with us on our iPhone and iPad Home Screens since day one. Well, no more. Place apps and widgets right where you want them. There’s a new Dark look for app icons, and you can tint them with any color or use a suggested a color that complements your wallpaper.


Control Center has been resigned again with flexible arrangement options that allow you to resize your controls, change their layout, or build your own groups. Third-party apps can also add controls. And we will finally be able to customize the controls on the Lock Screen!


New features and improvements that are coming to the Messages app:

  • Scheduled messages

  • New text effects

  • Text formatting

  • Tapback with any emoji or sticker

  • Messages via Satellite

  • RCS support that will improve the experience when messaging with Android users


Image credit: Apple

The Photos app has undergone a significant overhaul. It features a simplified, single view with new Collections that will automatically organize your photos. Collection topics include Recent Days, Trips, and People & Pets. Users can also pin their favorite collections for easy access.

A new carousel view showcases daily highlights, featuring favorite people, pets, places, and more, with auto-playing content throughout the app.


Image credit: Apple

For years, Apple has been dragged for not putting the Calculator app on the iPad. Points to Apple for playfully acknowledging that during the keynote when it announced Calculator was finally coming to iPad. But there was a bonus: Math Notes.

Using AI, Math Notes will solve your handwritten equations as soon as you write or type an equals sign. In addition to basic math, you can assign variables, use them in equations and graphs, and more. Plus, Math Notes will be available in the Notes app.

This looks amazing. My son starts university this fall, and he was so excited when he saw the demo.


Image credit: Apple

Apple continues to improve the excellent Notes app. In addition to Math Notes, the Notes app gets:

  • Smart Script (recreates your handwriting and improves legibility, paste typed text as your handwriting)

  • Live audio transcripts

  • Text Highlighting

  • Collapsible sections to help manage longer notes


Image credit: Apple

Apple has provided stored passwords forever through the Keychain and, more recently, the Passwords section in Safari and System Settings. Functionally, it worked well but was out of place. This fall, we’ll be getting a standalone Passwords app.

The Passwords app will cover everything you’d expect regarding storing and sharing passwords. It will also handle multi-factor verification codes, passkeys, and Sign in with Apple. The app is available on iOS, iPadOS, macOS, visionOS, and Windows through the iCloud for Windows app.

I like this move because it makes accessing your passwords more approachable, particularly for users who are uncomfortable digging around in Settings.

Image credit: Apple


  • Categories in Mail app

  • Vitals and Training Load on Apple Watch

  • Locked & hidden apps on iPhone and iPad

  • iPhone Mirroring on macOS Sequoia

  • Improved window tiling on macOS

  • Game Mode for iPad

  • Floating Tab Bar on iPad that morphs into the Sidebar when needed

  • Site Highlights and updated Reader including Summaries in Safari

  • Reminders integration in Calendar

  • New topographic maps with trail networks in Maps

  • AirPods Pro: nod or shake your head no to respond to Siri

  • Improved voice isolation for AirPods Pro

Developer betas are now available, and the Public Beta will start next month. The new operating systems will be released in the fall, but many new features won’t be available immediately and will arrive through the fall and winter.

As you can see, it’s a massive year for updates across the Apple ecosystem, and there’s a lot to play with and learn about. I’ll have more over the summer and fall, and we’ll dig in on Basic AF.


We recap the keynote event and go in on the new Apple Intelligence features, Home Screen customizations coming to iOS and iPadOS, the sick new Math Notes feature, the updated Photos app, and much, much more!

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