It’s that time of the year again! Apple kicked off its annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference this year with a slew of updates across product lines. If you did not get the time to watch the live stream of the WWDC 2021 or were in a different time zone, we’ve got you covered! Here are the Apple WWDC 2021 highlights!
The new iOS 15 is here!
iOS 15 is the latest and greatest version of iOS that promises the world, and then some! Craig Federighi announced the release of this new iOS that will focus on staying connected better, finding focus in tasks and notifications, using intelligence everywhere and exploring the world. iOS WWDC 2021 updates will be available as a public beta in July, with the full release following the beta “this fall”.
Updates to FaceTime
I love FaceTime, and I use it nearly every day to speak to friends and family. Here’s what iOS 15 brings to FaceTime:
FaceTiming while vacuuming or from a busy intersection? You can now (toggle to) hear people better, no matter where they are. This means that I can now vacuum the living room during conference calls! Huzzah!
I love this bit! If you’re using compatible audio hardware, you can now hear a person’s voice from where they appear on the screen. It’s magic! (I am an amateur musician, and I think spatial audio in FaceTime was the real highlight of the WWDC keynote).
I think my sister will love this update. With blurred backgrounds, you can keep yourself in focus during calls. This update will also make FaceTime a better option for corporate calls. Goodbye, Google Meet-o-saurus?
Shared video and audio streams allow groups to listen to music or content together. This can be an innovative new way to help students, co-workers, or interest groups watch content together—in sync!
This reminds me of the time when Blackberry Messenger came to Android as an app! FaceTime has finally caught up with the rest of the world. You can now invite your Android or PC friends to join in on FaceTime calls.
HomePod Mini is now stereo!
HomePod minis will now work as stereo speakers! Hook your speakers onto Apple TV, and you’ve got stereo sound! Woohoo!
The new Focus mode
Procrastination is now a thing of the past (maybe). You can now switch your phone into various customizable modes. If you’re at work, switch on the “Work” mode to turn off notifications from personal apps, or the inverse for “Personal” mode—so you can miss that email from your boss at 10 pm!
The Focus mode introduced in the Apple WWDC iPhone update helps you to group and silence (less critical) notifications. This can even help you sleep better as your phone would not go “ding, ding” all night if you forget to put it on silent mode.
Live text recognition
This is where the intelligence bit comes in. Your camera is now literate! Handwritten and printed text is now readable, selectable, searchable and pasteable. The camera can even recognize animal breeds, landmarks and such.
3D Apple Maps
Apple Maps is now in 3D! You can see elevations, landmarks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and much more rendered in 3D. Additionally, just like in Google Maps, Apple maps can use the camera to scan your surroundings and orient you better—so you can take your first step right.
Updates to AirPods
So I just got my new AirPods Pro, and I am excited about these updates!
- Conversation mode: I believe this is where Voice Isolation kicks in. You can now boost the volume of voices and reduce ambient noise during a face-to-face conversation.
- AirPods now work with FindMyApp even when in the case. They can now let me know if I leave them behind. Awesome!
- Spatial audio is coming for tvOS and M1-powered Macs.
Here’s what is new for those (like my boss) who have an iPad or a beautiful iPad Pro (hint, hint).
- Bigger home screen widgets – because of the bigger screen! Duh!
- App Library is coming to iPadOS
- A new multitasking menu that will make it easy to switch between running apps instead of using those annoying gestures (I hope).
- You can now tag (@mention) people in shared notes to get their attention and highlight changes on shared docs.
- Create Quick Notes anywhere by swiping up from the bottom right of the screen.
- A new system-wide text translation that includes real-time in-person conversation translation. Wow!
- Apple Swift Playgrounds let you build and submit apps to the App Store from your iPad.
The world is concerned about privacy, safety and security more than ever before. Here’s how Apple is working on making your iWorld more secure:
- Tracking pixels will not be able to view your IP address or locations while using the Mail app
- App Privacy Reports will give you a summary of how often an app has accessed your location, photos and more so you can check any unexpected behaviour.
- Siri’s speech recognition will now be on-device instead of on Apple’s servers. This will also enable Siri to work without an internet connection.
- You can now add recovery and legacy contacts to iCloud. This means that the chosen few recovery contacts can help you log in to your iCloud account if you lock yourself out. Additionally, legacy contacts can get access to your iCloud data if you pass away.
Apple is making its Health app and iOS smarter. Here’s how:
- You can now use Health Sharing to share health data with your family or friends.
- Trends in the Health app will highlight step and heart rate patterns.
- Walking steadiness will analyze your gait and step timing to predict if your fall risk is increasing. This is great for the invalid and the elderly.
Updates to the new Apple watchOS
Apple made many updates to watchOS
- The new Apple watchOS 8 can now track your respiratory rate and patterns, including when you’re sleeping.
- You can now use portrait-mode photos as your watch face.
- You can now “Scribble” on text using the crown for cursor placement.
Siri says hello, world!
Siri is finally coming to third-party devices. At the WWDC 2021 Apple announced that it will allow the use of Siri technology on products such as ecobee thermostats and others.
Updates to the new macOS
The latest upcoming release of macOS will be called macOS Monterey. This brand new macOS Monterey WWDC announcement brings a slew of features that include:
- Universal control helps you to use one keyboard and mouse across various devices seamlessly. When a compatible device is nearby, you can seamlessly extend your mouse to the other device.
- iPads can now become an extended display for MacBooks, making them into one giant canvas.
- SharePlay is coming to macOS, making it easy to watch videos and play music together.
- Shortcuts automation will also make its way to macOS. This will allow you to automate tasks using scripts quickly.
- Safari gets a “Tab Group” system akin to Chrome. Tabs are now smaller and can automatically sync between iCloud devices.
- AirPlay will allow you to send AirPlay content to the display of your Mac, just like AppleTV.
macOS Monterey will be available “this fall”.
Updates for developers
Although this is a developer-focused conference by name, Apple keeps the keynote customer-focused most of the time and saves the tech bits for the breakout sessions in the Apple developer conference. Here are the developer-focused highlights of the WWDC 2021:
- 3D object scanning for iOS will allow 3D-scanning functionality in apps without having to reinvent the wheel.
- Now perform better A/B AppStore page testing by building multiple App Store product pages for one app with various icons and screenshots to see what looks best.
- TestFlight is now available across the “iEcoSystem”—the service for distributing pre=release or beta apps is now on iPhone, iPad, watchOS and macOS.
- New APIs for SharePlay, Focus and other new features.
Apple gave us a lot to think about, get excited about, and work on ideas for new and innovative apps that will leverage the power of the latest features offered by macOS. I think I have covered everything from the WWDC 2021 announcement. If you think I’ve missed something out, let me know in the comments below.
Do you believe that you have a fantastic app idea that can leverage the power of the new functionality available with these updates? Let us know. Our macDev experts can help you dish out an MVP before the competition.