With every Apple product launch, possibilities arise for new features to change the ways we use our devices and expand our current capabilities. Yesterday’s releases of iOS 12 and watchOS 5 include several changes that build upon existing technologies to create more compelling user experiences. Combined with new iPhone and Apple Watch models announced last week and shipping this Friday, fall’s releases open the door to a world of new skills for users to learn.
Apple has leveraged its retail stores as product classrooms through Today at Apple sessions, offering anyone the ability to drop in and learn more about their device or pick up a new creative tip. Since rolling out globally in 2017, new sessions in areas of importance to Apple – like special photo and music labs – have been developed to broaden the curriculum.
Apple’s messaging during last week’s keynote spelled out which core values and technologies the company will continue to focus on. Looking forward, there are several key areas where Today at Apple could expand to offer richer and more relevant content reflecting the newest hardware and software.
Apple Watch Series 4 and watchOS 5
Apple has positioned the Series 4 Watch as the ultimate guardian for your health, the best fitness companion, and the most convenient way to stay connected. These aspirational goals extend to watchOS 5, software available to every watch except the first-generation model. As the Apple Watch grows in popularity, each of these three “tentpole” features can be expanded upon.
How-To: Stay Better Connected with Apple Watch
The Siri watch face received welcome improvements in watchOS 5, adding support for predictive shortcuts, third-party apps, and turn-by-turn navigation. Exclusive to the Series 4 Watch, the new Infograph and Infograph Modular faces offer an unprecedented level of customization. By configuring multiple versions of the same face, you could easily develop a library of layouts optimized for activities like travel or working out.
Taking the time to arrange and select the right watch face depending on the occasion helps surface the information you need, when you need it. A session leveraging the possibilities of these new faces could help people find new uses for their watches.
How-To: Be More Active with Apple Watch
Fitness has become the top reason many people buy Apple Watches, yet Apple offers just two main fitness-related sessions: Activity and Wellness Studio Hours and an Activity on Apple Watch Quick Start. There is clearly significant room for growth here.
Included in watchOS 5 are several new workout features. Yoga and Hiking workouts have been added, and cadence and pace alerts now offer valuable guidance during workouts. Activity Competitions add a social aspect, allowing you to challenge and motivate your friends. Introduced with Series 4 but available to everyone on watchOS 5, three new Breathe app watch faces are available. An overview of these new features, combined with tailored suggestions for the best third-party fitness apps would be a compelling way to start building your own routine.
Apple already features several detailed and illustrated support documents related to fitness and activity that include similar useful content.
How-To: Monitor Your Health with Apple Watch
The headline feature of the Series 4 Watch is its ability to generate an ECG, or electrocardiogram. Along with the ability to detect a fall, these additions begin to position the Apple Watch as a tiny clinic capable of providing crucial health data at a moment’s notice. As more data is generated, Apple’s staff can help educate customers on the best ways to use it.
Even on older watches, a variety of health features are available that users may be unaware of or haven’t utilized to their full potential. Irregular heart rate notifications provide peace of mind, and the ability to make an Emergency SOS call can be life-saving. All watch users could benefit from learning how to set up a Medical ID or take charge of their health data and records stored in the iOS Health app.
iPhone XS, XR and iOS 12
While this year’s iPhone models mainly refine features introduced last fall, they may prove more impactful than the iPhone X by pushing features like Face ID and improved cameras into the hands of more people. Combined with iOS 12, previously niche technologies like augmented reality become more compelling.
Basics: Augmented Reality
What is AR? How can I use it? At this point, most people are aware that augmented reality exists, but don’t know how it can fit into their lives. A simple session starting with AR basics could help answer these questions. iOS 12 includes a new Measure app ideal for demoing. Third-party app recommendations and a fun trial of AR shared experiences would leave people with a clearer understanding of the new technology.
Teacher Tuesdays: New Ways To Learn with AR
New in ARKit 2 are spectator mode, shared experiences, and AR persistence. All of these features enable new categories of educational apps suitable for a classroom setting. Apple promoted AR in education during March’s Special Event at Lane Tech High School in Chicago, highlighting several apps ideal for learning. As developers begin utilizing ARKit 2, even more immersive experiences should follow.
How-To: Explore and Share Your Photos
Apple already offers an in-store session dedicated to organizing your photos, but in iOS 12 intelligent suggestions and powerful search reduce the need for manual organization. Instead, people could learn how to use the new features in Photos to explore their best memories and events.
In addition to curated memories in the new For You tab, Photos now includes sharing suggestions alongside the classic iCloud shared albums. The new sharing mechanism and searching for multiple keywords, events, and places could be discussed alongside more pro features like RAW editing support and improved photo importing.
Photo Lab: Advanced Portrait Photography
Earlier this year, Apple co-created one Photo Lab with photographer Chase Jarvis and one Music Lab with musician Florence Welch. The sessions became instantly popular, and people share their photos daily on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #todyatapple. iOS 12 and 2018’s iPhone models have new camera features that lend themselves well to another Photo Lab co-created with a portrait photographer.
iOS 12 offers improved Portrait Lighting on all supported iPhone models by generating masks and utilizing more precise depth maps. On the iPhone XS and XR, portrait depth of field can be adjusted after shooting right in the Photos app. The camera system on both phones also includes Smart HDR for more detailed highlights and shadows. Combining these capabilities, an advanced Photo Lab could dive into the specifics of shooting professional portraits beyond what Apple’s current Quick Start and Photo Walk Portrait sessions offer.
How-To: Live a Balanced Life with iPhone
One of the features most applauded at its WWDC 2018 introduction was Screen Time, a tool for more wisely managing time spent on your iPhone and iPad. Alongside notification tuning and more robust Do Not Disturb options, the features represent an entirely new initiative for Apple, and warrant an in-depth walkthrough. A separate session for parents could be offered, detailing app limits and Screen Time for kids.
Quick Start: Siri Shortcuts
The new Shortcuts app is undoubtedly iOS 12’s most ambitious feature. Since most users are unfamiliar with the concept of creating and running shortcuts, a Quick Start session could lay the foundation. What are Siri Shortcuts? What are intelligent suggestions? How do I make my first shortcut?
How-To: Streamline Your Day with Siri Shortcuts
After establishing familiarity with the power of shortcuts, a more in-depth session could explore the ways individual users can optimize their routines. The topics are as limitless as the shortcuts you can create, but could include popular use cases like automating daily tasks, home automation, and productivity. Each participant could create shortcuts based on their personal needs.
Today at Apple is quickly becoming the company’s most valuable communication platform as it continues to offer more compelling content and exclusive sessions to draw new attendees. By developing direct dialogue between employees and customers, Apple now has the unique opportunity to bypass the learning curve typically associated with new hardware and software. Continuously rolling out relevant and engaging sessions about the latest capabilities helps draw visitors to stores and helps customers get the most out of their products.