WWDC 2024 highlights: Key takeaways to get excited about for key industry workflows

Get an overview of the exciting announcements from the 2024 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Learn how these updates to iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and watchOS 11 empower deskless employees to do their best work.

June 13 2024 by

Sean Smith

Person in a greenhouse using an iPad

At WWDC 2024, Apple showed a bevy of new ways to help users and teams be more connected and collaborative than ever before. On operating systems like iOS, iPadOS and watchOS, Apple unveiled multiple updates emphasizing user experience, privacy, and seamless integrations within its ecosystem. And with Apple Intelligence, a new generative large-language model is planned to be included iOS, iPadOS or macOS. For organization’s in industries with deskless employees — like retail, healthcare, hardhats or transportation — Apple’s announcements present significant implications and opportunities for enhancing productivity and security wherever your workplace may be.

Apple Intelligence

Apple’s biggest headline of the day was the unveiling of their new generative large-language model: Apple Intelligence. Apple Intelligence is built to utilize on-device processing — specifically for macOS, iOS, and iPadOS — with options to augment this model with cloud-based resources. With Apple Intelligence, these platforms have new capabilities to understand and generate languages and images, with awareness of a user’s context. And as Apple is wont to do, Apple Intelligence is built with a privacy-first mindset and is integrated into features and apps across the Apple ecosystem.

To make Apple Intelligence useful in practice, Apple looked to solve three key challenges:

  • Specialization, so Apple Intelligence can run on-device tasks and features
  • Size, so Apple Intelligence will fit on devices as small as iPhone
  • Performance, so Apple Intelligence is efficient and delivers the best possible inference performance

Apple Intelligence introduces new APIs to bring all of the new features into developer apps, giving developers ways to expose their app capabilities to Apple Intelligence for deeper, more useful integrations. With so many business and productivity apps — on the App Store, from third-parties, or built in-house — developers have a great opportunity to explore how Apple Intelligence can fit into a variety of workflows for various industries or their organizations.

For example, if an app is using Apple’s standard UI frameworks to render text fields, that app will automatically get Writing Tools. This means that when a user inputs text, Apple Intelligence will rewrite, proofread and summarize that text as part of the application’s behavior.

iOS 18

Apple Intelligence is planned to be part of iOS later this year, but that is not all that Apple announced for iPhone. There are also new APIs introduced into all of Apple’s platforms, including iOS.

For iOS 18, the name of the game is customization.

In iOS 18, the Controls feature makes getting to frequently used tasks from apps easier and quicker than ever before. The new Controls API allows app developers to create a control, and once defined, make it available to users in the new Control Gallery. A Control can also be assigned to the Action button on an iPhone 15 Pro, appear as a Control on the Lock Screen, or be rearranged or resized.

What might this look like for specific industries:

  • Retail store associates can access inventory apps faster and provide a better customer experience
  • Healthcare clinicians and hospital staff can easily access clinical communications tools to better provide high-quality care in one platform
  • Aviation organizations can have easily accessible electronic flight bags for pilots or mechanical diagrams for technicians
  • Manufacturing employees that need to take safety courses can access training applications right from the Home Screen

The Home Screen is also getting major enhancements. Apps and widgets can be placed on the screen right where a user wants them. More than that, app and widget icons can now appear light, dark or with a tint. Wallpapers — which help users quickly understand device use in shared device environments — are now easier to view when apps are arranged along the bottom or the side of the device.

Apple is long known for their commitment to security, privacy and a seamless user experience. The Passwords app is another step in that promise. It keeps all of a user’s credentials in one place and is backed by end-to-end encryption and seamless syncing.

App Lock lets users lock or hide apps. This is a game-changing feature that prevents launching a protected app unless the user authenticates with biometrics or a passcode. Furthermore, data contained within protected apps does not appear in other areas of the system for added peace of mind, such as:

  • Search
  • Notifications
  • Spotlight
  • Siri
  • Call history
  • Maps

If an employee is using a device they normally do not have access to, or there are apps with sensitive data, there is now extra protection for unauthorized employees attempting to access those applications.

iPadOS 18

All of the features we discussed in the iOS section are also available on iPadOS, but there are still more features and functionalities to highlight.

For iPadOS, user interaction is at the forefront. There is a new API being delivered to iPadOS that lets developers build important interactions like customization, menus, and drag and drop for the all new redesigned tab bar. In iPadOS 18, the tab bar now floats at the top of an application and provides simple interactions for users to go to different tabs. More than that, the tab bar turns into a sidebar when a user needs to dive deeper into a given application.

In industries like aviation or retail, many organizations develop in-house apps for inventory, mechanical diagrams or check-in software. When these employees interact with an app, it needs to be done in a productive manner without having to click around to get to the right spot. This new API lets in-house apps accomplish more with less code, provides better-designed apps and more efficiently connects workers to the app interactions that drive productivity.

The Notes app also has major enhancements regarding user interaction. Smart Script in Notes uses on-device machine learned models to recreate a persons handwriting from notes. For example, a clinician or other hospital staff can write notes from a patient visit or a meeting with another clinician and Smart Script automatically refines those notes for more legible text. On top of that, the Notes app now includes live audio transcriptions, so a clinician or an employee manager can record audio sessions for easy note taking, plus the ability to highlight certain section of a note to attract attention to that text.

watchOS 11

Apple Watch is the best way for people to access and read information quickly. From changing a song on Apple Music, viewing an iMessage or checking Activity Rings, Apple Watch makes it easy for users to interact with the Apple ecosystem.

Jamf Pro 11.6 supports Apple Watch management.

Check out the blog to learn more.

Here is a brief list the major highlights for developers and users alike.


  • Activity rings now lets users pause their rings when a break is needed while the award streak stays in place.
  • Activity rings also let users to adjust Activity ring goals to the day of the week. So if Mondays are a day of heavy activity and Tuesdays are a little lighter, users can adjust the rings to match the goal intent.
  • Vitals provide a more comprehensive view and understanding of a user’s daily health. When someone wears an Apple Watch to sleep each night, they will be able to see health metrics — like heart rate, respiratory rate or sleep duration — right from the Apple Watch.
  • Translate, which supports 20 languages, allows users to see a translation by dictating or typing a phrase. By downloading a language right on Apple Watch, an iPhone is not needed.


  • Double Tap API lets developers define a primary action in their app, allowing users to double tap to trigger an action that matters most.

Key actions for IT and Security teams

The announcements at WWDC 2024 bring a host of opportunities for industries using Apple devices. But, at the same time, to make those devices useful in practice, organizations must understand how to best ready a device for a work environment. For IT and Security teams that support a deskless workforce, they should take proactive steps to maximize the benefits of the new updates while mitigating potential risks:

  • Test, test, test: The announcements Apple has made are incredibly exciting, but the operating systems are still considered beta until they ship later this year. Beta instances should not be used in production environments which could affect work. But it is best practice to start testing workflows to understand what will work in the future.
  • Review and update security policies: With the introduction of features like App Lock, it is essential to review and update security policies to ensure that new capabilities align with compliance requirements unique to your organization, providing optimal protection of device security, user privacy and company data.
  • Enhance remote management capabilities: Take advantage of improvements in device management tools, such as iPhone Mirroring and the updated Control Center, to enhance remote support and troubleshooting capabilities.
  • Leverage productivity tools: Explore how the productivity-enhancing features in iPadOS 18 can be utilized to improve workflows, especially in deskless work settings. Train employees on how to make the most of these new tools.
  • Evaluate Apple Intelligence integration: Assess the potential benefits and challenges of integrating Apple Intelligence and the enhanced Siri into your deskless environments. Consider privacy and security implications, and develop strategies to manage AI-driven interactions across all of your workflows.

At Jamf, we are here to support organizations in navigating Apple updates, ensuring that Apple devices remain secure, efficient, and seamlessly integrated into the workflows that businesses and users need. As Apple continues to innovate, Jamf will provide the tools and expertise needed to harness these advancements for the benefit of industries worldwide.

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