Apple WWDC 2021 recap – New features coming to iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and more
Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) saw Apple show off iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS 12, watchOS 8 and much more.
Apple took to the virtual stage yesterday to show off the latest operating systems coming to their phones, tablets, computers, watches and more. Sadly there was no new hardware announced, despite increasing rumours of redesigned MacBook Pros leading up to the event.
FaceTime will get some handy new features, including spatial audio. Spatial audio separate voices in physical space depending on their position on your screen. You can blur the background during video calls by enabling Portrait mode. Voice isolation lets you reduce background noise, while FaceTime tunes into your voice specifically. Wide Spectrum passes all the sound through to your call recipients. A new grid view displays all callers on one screen, with the current speaker highlighted. FaceTime links allows you to share scheduled calls and even lets Android or Windows users to join the call from their browser.
SharePlay lets users share their screen, listen to music or watch TV shows and films together over FaceTime. You can cast the shared TV show to the big screen, while keeping the FaceTime going on your phone. Playback, controls and the queue is synced for all users. Developers will be able to integrate SharePlay into their existing video and music streaming apps. Apple have announced partnerships with the likes of Disney+, Hulu, HBO Mac and others, who should be ready on day one.
Focus mode allows you to easily switch between settings such as Do Not Disturb, Work and Sleep. Each setting is designed to help you stay in the zone, by only allowing specific apps to deliver notifications and presenting a customised homescreen for each setting. This is a great way to hide distraction when working, working out or sleeping. Focus modes can be switched on manually or automatically based on time and location. If you’re texted while your phone is on Do Not Disturb, the messenger will see your status and can bypass the silencing when it’s urgent.
Shared with You works with the Messages app to collate all of the Safari links, images, news articles, music, podcasts and TV shows that friends have sent you, displaying them all together in a dedicated space in apps such as Safari, Photos, Apple News, Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. Also new in Messages are pins, helping you find that message, image or link later. Multiple images sent by one user will appear as a collage or stack, rather than separately.
Updates to the Health app bring Walking Steadiness. By tracking your walking, Health hopes to improve your steadiness and may be able to notify you if your fall risk is increased. Health Sharing lets you share health data, trends and alerts with your family and doctors.
Wallet on iPhone is continuing to replace all other items in your pockets. iOS 15 introduces ID cards in some states and Home Keys helps you unlock your home, garage, hotel or office from your iPhone.
The Apple Maps app is getting a complete redesign, showing turn lanes, crosswalks, bike lanes, traffic lights and 3D buildings, as well as augmented reality walking directions.
Safari will also be getting a fresh look on iPhone. The tab bar now shows at the bottom of the screen to maximise space. Extensions will also be making their way to the mobile browser.
Live Text allows you to select, copy, look up and translate printed or handwritten text from the camera or image, as well as call, email or get directions with a tap when iOS recognises a number or address.
Notification are also being redesigned, with larger icons and sorted into priority, pushing up direct messages and pushing down promotional messages.
iOS 15 is supported on all of the same devices as iOS 14. This stretches right back to the iPhone 6s, iPhone SE (1st generation) and iPod Touch (7th generation).
iPad is getting many of the same updates as the iPhone, plus the following:
Larger widgets are now available on iPad and can now be placed anywhere on the homescreen. Apple are also introducing new widgets from Find My, Contact, Game Center, App Store and Mail.
Introduced on iOS last year, iPad will be getting the App Library, allow users to hide pages of apps and bring the Translate app.
New multitasking tools makes split screen app management easier. Quickly create multiple workspaces and minimize apps to the new shelf.
You can now view activity on shared notes, add tags to find notes easier and create notes from anywhere using Quick Notes.
iPadOS 15 is also supported on all of the same devices as iPadOS 14. Going back as far as the iPad Pro (1st generation), iPad (5th generation), iPad mini 4 and iPad Air 2.
macOS 12 Monterey
Universal Control is one of the neatest tricks shown off yesterday. This lets you use your MacBook trackpad or a connected mouse and keyboard across Macs and iPads. You can even effortlessly drag and drop files between devices.
Video Credit: Apple
AirPlay comes to the Mac, allowing you to cast content from an iPhone or iPad straight to your Mac.
As on iPhone, Shortcuts brings automated tasks to the Mac. Shortcuts can be run from just about anywhere including the dock, menu bar, Finder, Spotlight or Siri.
Apple are also redesigning Safari on the Mac.
Unfortunately macOS Monterey won’t be available to everyone currently on Big Sur. Supported devices are the iMac late 2015 or later, iMac Pro 2017 or later, MacBook Air early 2015 or later, MacBook Pro early 2015 or later, Mac Pro late 2013 or later, Mac mini late 2014 or later, and MacBook early 2016 or later.
Apple Watch this year received a fairly minor update.
Apple are introducing a couple of new workout types, including Tai Chi and Pilates.
The Breathe app is getting redesigned and renamed to Mindfulness.
Portrait mode photos on the watch face places the time between the foreground and background.
watchOS 8 is supported on all of the same watches. This includes Apple Watch Series 3 or later and Apple Watch SE.
Conversation Boost uses the AirPods built-in microphones to focus and boost voices in front of you, while reducing ambient sound. Announce Notification lets you choose the important notifications you’d like Siri to read to you. Location based reminders can be read to you as you arrive at the destination, such as a shopping list at the grocery store. With Find My, you can be notified when your AirPods become separated from your phone. Plus, spatial audio is coming to all devices, such as Macs and TVs.
As always, Apple put a heavy emphasis on Privacy with this year’s updates. On the Mail app you can now hide your IP address, location and whether you’re opened an email. On Safari you can now hide your IP address from trackers. Borrowed from Safari, the App Privacy Report details exactly which apps are using your data. On device speech recognition means Siri requests don’t leave your phone, making it faster and work offline too.
iCloud+ will provide users with more privacy controls such as Private Relay that works much like a VPN, encrypting your web data and bouncing it to two separate relays. Hide My Email lets you create unique email addresses that are forwarded to your main inbox.
Developers can find all of the sessions taking place during the week here. Developer betas are available to download today, with public betas coming next month. All new operating systems will become available to all users in the Fall.
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