Apps launched by Apple Sherlock at WWDC 2024

Apple has been on a roll lately, announcing a host of new features for its various devices earlier this week at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

But many of these features were already available to some degree on Apple devices through third-party apps. So, just like the past few years, we’ll examine the ideas Apple has “Sherlocked” in this year’s updates.

But what do we mean by Apple “hiding” something?

In the late 1990s, Apple launched a search app called Sherlock for macOS 8 that you could use to search the web and files on local systems. Now, a company called Karelia Software has a $29 search app called Watson, with features like plugins to improve your Internet search. In 2002, Apple released Sherlock 3 with features similar to Watson, making the Karelia application redundant. Since then, people in tech circles have used the term “Sherlocking” when they want to refer to a new feature from Apple that does the same thing an existing third-party app does.

Feature: New password app

Sherlock Applications: 1 password, LastPass, BitWarden, Proton corridor

Apple is launching a new standalone password manager for iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS Sequoia, VisionOS, and Windows. You already have a password manager by now, but it’s located inside a submenu in the Settings app.

This new app will essentially do the same thing as third-party password managers, which may see fewer new users as some people may choose to use the built-in password manager now. However, most third-party apps in this space also provide apps and integrations across Android, Windows, and Linux, and can store other information such as addresses and credit cards.

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Feature: Call recording and transcription

Sherlock Applications: TapeACallTrue caller

Apple has finally introduced the ability to record and transcribe calls within the Phone app. While you love apps TapeACall Turecaller has been offering call recording for a while now, and you had to call another number to activate it. The reason for this is that Apple has not allowed third-party companies access to its connectivity stack.

Feature: Audio transcription

Sherlock Applications: Otter, Voice Notes.com

Apart from call transcription, Apple will also provide audio transcription in apps like Notes with upcoming updates. This takes up the space that was occupied until now by apps like Otter, AudioPen, and Voicenotes.com.

However, third-party apps can do various other things — for example, Otter is great for transcribing meetings and video calls, and AudioPen and Voicenotes.com offer AI-powered summaries and formatting capabilities. So users will have to choose how much functionality they want from transcription services.

Feature: Mirror iPhone to Mac

Sherlock app: edge

Apple’s new updates will offer the ability to mirror your iPhone to a Mac, allowing you to control your phone remotely. Users will be able to get iPhone notifications on your Mac, and easily drag and drop files, photos, and videos between devices.

Image credits: apple

Until now, you’ve had to use Bezel to do this, but it requires connecting your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch with a cable to mirror the device. The app developer said that with Apple’s update looming, they will be evaluating their next steps.

Feature: Window tiling on Mac

Sherlock app: magnet, rectangular

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This isn’t exactly a revolutionary feature since Windows and Linux have been letting you tile windows for years now. On Mac, you had to use third-party applications such as magnet And rectangular So that the operating system can easily arrange windows in different ways.

Image describing tiling in macOS Sequoia
Image credit: apple

Apple is finally working on integrating this feature into the upcoming macOS Sequoia, but third-party apps may still be able to retain their users by offering better customization features like different size options for windows, the ability to rearrange workspaces with a single shortcut, and hiding windows on… Edge of the screen, and pin the app to one side.

Feature: Custom emoji

Sherlock app: Newgi

Another upcoming feature is the ability to create new emojis using prompts and a new AI engine. You can type prompts like “A fox as DJ” to create a new emoji. Until now, you can use an application called Newgi To do the same.

Feature: Custom maps

Sherlock app: All lanes

Apple Maps is getting an update as part of iOS 18 that will let US-based users explore national park trails, create custom routes, and save them for offline use. You’ve had to use Alltrails to do all of that until now, but the advantage of this app may be that it already has a community. Additionally, it offers routes that bypass national parks in other countries as well.

What lies ahead

It’s worth noting that Apple has to strike a balance here: it has to keep up with competition from Google and Microsoft, but at the same time it makes money from the App Store, so it can’t just add features that kill users. Stop third-party applications completely. However, some of these Sherlocked apps may survive by offering custom or enterprise solutions, but some small-scale standalone apps will eventually lose users to Apple.

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Image credits: apple

One strange anomaly this time around is Apple’s own suite of writing tools, which are powered by the company’s AI. The App Store currently has dozens of email and note-taking apps that let you change the tone of a piece of writing, rewrite it, completely reformat it, or summarize some text. You can also consider Grammarly as a Sherlocked app now that Apple offers proofreading features as well.

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