Apple debuts pay later service and promises iPhone updates

Apple Inc. unveiled a range of new software features and services at its Worldwide Developers Conference, including an updated iPhone lock screen, multitasking capabilities for the iPad, and a pay later service that takes it further into the financial world.

Monday’s presentation, part of a week-long event, previews key features for Apple’s developers, which now number 34 million, according to Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. The sweeping upgrades are designed to retain customers and encourage them to share more Apple products — a key strategy for the world’s most valuable technology company.

The new MacBook Air was also presented during the conference.

Apple’s latest iPhone software, iOS 16, will feature the new lock screen, allowing users to personalize elements like their photo and the font used for the time. The lock screen also gets widgets for the first time – pieces of software that display simple information like the weather. And a feature called Live Activities will make it easier to keep track of plans and events like an NBA game or an Uber ride, senior vice president Craig Federighi said at the Cupertino event.

The approximately two-hour presentation was packed with innovations, although there were few bombshells for investors. Shares were little changed following the announcements, closing at $146.14 on Monday.

With Apple’s stock down 18% this year — and concerns mounting that the economy is heading into a recession — the electronics giant is under additional pressure to generate excitement about software running on a new line of gadgets to be launched later in 2022. The annual conference to differentiate itself from competitors such as Samsung Electronics Co., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Inc.

The new iPhone software adds content filtering features that allow users to prioritize messages and emails based on whether they’re on the go, at work, or at home. The lock screen also displays different styles depending on the time of day. Overall, iOS gets some highly requested features, such as: B. a shared cloud photo library for families and the ability to cancel or edit iMessages.

Many of the offerings announced for iOS 16 extend to the Mac and iPad. The company also announced changes to its Mail app that introduced improved search and the ability to schedule messages to be sent. And Apple previewed what it called a future without passwords, showing off a Passkeys feature that uses cryptography instead of text-based codes.

Apple’s Maps, Home and Health apps are also getting upgrades. For example, Apple Maps lets you add up to 15 stops when planning a route. The Home app will work better with camera feeds and support Matter, a cross-platform protocol for smart home devices that has also been adopted by Amazon and Google.

The health and fitness apps on the iPhone can now track fitness and medications without the need for an Apple Watch. Apple also previewed its latest smartwatch operating system — watchOS 9 — which adds revamped fitness-tracking software, new watch faces, and a redesigned calendar app. And the Apple Watch gets less intrusive notifications that no longer take up the entire screen.

The device will have improved atrial fibrillation detection, allowing users to see a summary of their so-called Afib over time. The software will also better track sleep to show what stage users are experiencing at different times of the night. In some of these areas, Apple is catching up with competitors like Fitbit, which have offered similar features for years.

The company also previewed its long-development Buy Now, Pay Later feature, which splits the cost of Apple Pay purchases across four payments over six weeks. The feature, called Apple Pay Later, comes with no interest or fees, the company said. Bloomberg previously reported that the service was coming, part of an expansion into the financial world that also includes bringing more of its infrastructure indoors.

Monday’s announcement hurt shares in Affirm Holdings Inc., which offers a similar service. At the close, it was down 5.5% to $23.72.

Apple has announced a major update to CarPlay to take advantage of cars with larger displays. The new software, which will be officially introduced in vehicles in 2023, can replace instrument clusters, air conditioning systems and radios for the first time.

The look at software features comes a few months ahead of the launch of new iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches, which are usually unveiled in the fall. These devices account for about 80% of the company’s sales.

The iPad’s software, iPadOS, is also getting a major update aimed at professional users. The device will be able to resize windows, show more content on the screen at once, and offer a new multitasking view that makes it easier to use multiple apps at the same time. iPad also gets additional collaboration features and a productivity app called Freeform — as well as a weather app for the first time.

A similar multitasking view – dubbed Stage Manager – is also coming to the Mac with the new macOS Ventura update.

The new Mac operating system will also allow customers to use their iPhone as a webcam with their computer. Apple said it is working with accessories maker Belkin on attachments to be released later this year.

On the hardware front, Apple introduced two new Macs, including the biggest refresh to its Air model in more than a decade. The new computers will use the company’s proprietary M2 chip, which it made available after it was spun off from Intel Corp. has developed. The other new machine, a budget 13-inch MacBook Pro, looks like the previous version. None of the laptops will ship to consumers before July.

The operating system updates will be available to developers as part of a beta test on Monday. And the public will be able to see it in a broader beta test next month.

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