CUPERTINO – Apple opened Monday its first in-person developers conference since the onset of the pandemic with chips, maps and a way to delete precipitously sent messages, but was mum on any virtual reality offerings.
The tech giant touted new features and capabilities being built into the operating systems running iPhone, Apple Watch and more, along with a speedy new MacBook Air computer driven by a second generation of its custom chip.
Apple chief Tim Cook and his team showed off coming innovations during a keynote presentation at its first developers conference to be held at its campus in the Silicon Valley city of Cupertino – and the first in-person version of the gathering since COVID-19 struck.
"It's so good to see you all," Cook said from a stage set up on a lawn next to Apple's ring-shaped headquarters, as an audience of several thousand developers cheered in the morning sunshine.
No updates, however, were forthcoming on a rumored virtual reality operating system or hardware.
Still, developers will get to meet with Apple engineers during the weeklong conference, and even work in a new building with soundproof rooms to let them discuss ideas without being overheard.
Aside from new MacBook models, the event was a deep dive into coming new generations of operating systems for Apple's line-up of offerings.
Apple will start letting people delete and edit messages after they have been sent as part of the latest update to its operating software, as well as customizable options for the iPhone main screen.
Users of its digital wallet should soon also be able to pay for purchases in installments.
Relying increasingly on custom made chips has enabled Apple to make its devices and software work more seamlessly together, and catch up a bit to features offered by rivals such as Google Maps and even Microsoft Xbox video game platform for Windows-powered computers.
Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi saw it as Apple filling "users' wish-list," adding capabilities to make its apps, services or hardware the natural option in an increasingly competitive market.
"They are listening to what the users are saying and they're making changes," Milanesi said.
As increased dependence on computers and the internet caused by the pandemic shows no sign of abating, and by better tuning hardware and software for convenience promises to keep people in Apple's money-making ecosystem, the analyst added.