Everything Apple Unveiled at its Massive WWDC 2021 Event
Not for the first time, the long-awaited Apple WWDC event delivered – maybe not what we had hoped, but still a bevy of new upgrades to the portfolio. Held in California overnight, Apple’s annual showcase gave the tech giant an opportunity to flex its software muscles, rather than its hardware. No new iPhones or iPads, this time around Apple put all its energy into revamping its existing products from the inside out. But that’s not to say the upgrades weren’t impressive. Here are all the major announcements from the Apple WWDC event for 2021.
iOS 15 Has Arrived
On the mobile side of things, Apple plugged some big changes, the first of which being iOS 15. The new iPhone system revamps Apple Maps, Weather gets full-screen maps and more graphical displays of data, Wallet adds support for home keys and ID cards, and Safari cops the new tab bar design and Tab Groups.
“For many customers, iPhone has become indispensable, and this year we’ve created even more ways it can enhance our daily lives,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “iOS 15 helps users stay connected while sharing experiences in real time, gives them new tools to help reduce distraction and find focus, uses intelligence to enhance the photos experience, and, with huge upgrades to Maps, brings new ways to explore the world. We can’t wait for customers to experience it.”
iPhone Adds Copy/Paste From Photos
If there was one announcement that piqued our interest, it was the addition of copy/paste text through iOS 15. Apple’s new feature Live Text uses AI to let you copy text from what you see in photos and then paste it into apps like Notes or iMessage. Taking a leaf out of the Google Lens book, this innovation uses the Camera app to quickly recognise and copy text in the moment, such as the Wi-Fi password displayed at a local café. Further, with Visual Look Up, you can also learn more about popular art and landmarks around the world, whereas the Spotlight option offers web image search and all-new detailed results for actors, musicians, TV shows and movies.
Looking back at the Houseparty days of 2020, Apple has updated its FaceTime offering to help you get the virtual party started. Through SharePlay, users can now share experiences with friends on FaceTime, like tunes on Apple Music, watching a TV show or movie in sync, or sharing your screen to view apps together. Apple also confirmed that SharePlay works across iPhone, iPad and Mac, and with shared playback controls, meaning anyone in a SharePlay session can play, pause or jump ahead. Best of all, SharePlay extends to Apple TV, so users can watch shows or movies on a big screen while connecting over FaceTime, and SharePlay will keep everyone’s playback in sync.
FaceTime Looks and Feels Better
The new iOS update is also slated to improve connection with friends and family. FaceTime now includes a host of new audio and video features to make calls feel more natural, such as spatial audio, Voice Isolation and Wide Spectrum, which allows all the sound in the area to come through so participants can hear everything.
Never one to step away from productivity, Apple also bumped up its Focus. The new feature filters notifications and apps based on what a user wants to focus on, meaning you can create a customised Focus or select a suggested Focus, which uses on-device intelligence to suggest which people and apps are allowed to notify them. “Focus suggestions are based on users’ context, like during their work hours or while they’re winding down for bed, and when Focus is set on one Apple device, it automatically applies to their other Apple devices,” Apple said.”When a user’s Focus is blocking incoming notifications, their status is automatically displayed to others in Messages, reflecting that the user is not currently reachable.”
As part of the iOS 15 upgrade, Apple has introduced a feature called Notification Summary, which prioritises the way you receive notifications on your iPhone. This feature takes your ‘less pressing’ notifications and then deliver them all at the same time in a group. More important notifications, such as iMessages, will be kept separate so you can easily see them.
New macOS Monterey
Perhaps the biggest announcement made at the WWDC event overnight was the introduction of macOS Monterey, the latest version of its desktop operating system. Under the new framework, Apple users can more freely share information and work across their devices, whether that be through FaceTime, Safari or anything else.
The changes include the introduction of a new tab design that updates the browsing experience to let you see more of the page as they scroll. There are also shortcuts on Mac for the first time, allowing you to instantly share files, make animated GIFs or customise shortcuts to match your workflows.
“macOS Monterey is packed with features that help Mac users get more done, connect with friends and family in amazing new ways, and work across Mac and iPad more seamlessly than ever before,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering said. “We think our customers are going to love browsing the web with Safari’s new tab design, enjoying shared experiences with SharePlay in FaceTime, and using their Mac and other Apple devices together in new ways with Universal Control and AirPlay to Mac.”
One massive update that accompanies macOS Monterey is Universal Control, a feature that essentially allows you to combine your iMac, MacBook and iPad and turn it into a multi-screen system. With this addition, you’ll be able to move your cursor from one screen to another, meaning you can use the same mouse-and-keyboard combo with all your iPad and Mac devices, and quickly drag and drop files between each of your devices. Apple also plugged the AirPlay to Mac feature which will allow you to cast your iPad’s screen to your Mac.
What’s New for watchOS 8
Apple also unveiled watchOS 8, a new operating system for Apple Watches that takes the world’s most advanced wearable to the next level. Focusing on mindfulness and wellbeing, the improvements hope to drive users to stay healthy, active and connected with updates to the Wallet and Home apps. Thereby transforming them into increasingly useful tools for convenient access across the car and places fans live, work and visit. A re-imagined Breathe app and new Tai Chi and Pilates workout types help users lead a fit and healthy life, and support mental wellbeing, while a new Portraits watch face and enhancements to Messages and the Photos app make staying connected to loved ones even easier.
Wallet: Users can also add keys for their home, office and hotel to Wallet, and tap their Apple Watch to unlock.
Home App: Ability to control accessories by room. Users with a HomeKit-enabled camera can view who is at the door directly on their wrist. Apple Watch users can also tap Intercom to quickly broadcast a message throughout the home or to individual rooms via HomePod, HomePod mini, or other personal devices.
New Workout Types: introduces two new popular workout types that are beneficial for both physical fitness and mindful movement: Tai Chi and Pilates.
Mindfulness: In watchOS 8, the Breathe app has turned into the Mindfulness app, plus a new session type, Reflect. This session type offers a mindful intention to focus on for as little as one minute that can be done anywhere and at any time.
Portraits Watch Face and Photos: The new Portraits watch face brings to life stunning portrait photos shot on iPhone with an immersive, multilayered effect, intelligently recognising faces in photos and cropping in to highlight the subject. The Photos app is also redesigned, offering new ways to view and navigate collections; Memories and Featured Photos now sync to Apple Watch, and photos can be shared through Messages and Mail with the new Share Sheet.
Messages and Contacts: Users can combine Scribble, dictation and emoji all within the same message, and for dictated messages, you now have the option to edit the presented text. To add even more personality to a message, you can now also enter a word or phrase and select from hundreds of trending GIFs.
Focus: Probably the most exciting feature to be added in our distracted minds. watchOS 8 now supports Focus, a powerful set of tools available in iOS 15 to help users reduce distraction and be in the moment. Your watch will automatically align with any Focus set on iOS, so notifications from people and apps are filtered based on what you are currently doing. Focus uses on-device intelligence to make suggestions based on usage patterns – for example, when starting a workout on Apple Watch, the Focus for fitness is suggested.
What’s New for iPadOS 15
There’s a host of new updated features on the way for iPad, with the introduction of iPadOS 15. At the top of our list comes a new multitasking experience that is even more intuitive, making features like Split View and Slide Over easier to discover and more useful. The notes system goes system-wide with Quick Note, the new way to collaborate and organise notes. There’s also a new widget layout for the Home Screen and App Library that offers simple ways to personalise the iPad experience and organise apps.
Multitasking and Keyboard Shortcuts: The new multitasking menu will now appear at the top of apps. This lets users go into Split View or Slide Over with just a tap. You’ll now have quick access to the Home Screen when using Split View, making it easier to get to the right app. The ‘Shelf‘ will also allow quick access to emails.
New Widgets and the App Library: You’ll now be able to add widgets (weather info, news, etc.) among apps on Home Screen pages, providing more information at a glance and offering a more personalised experience. Designed specifically for the larger display of iPad, a new, larger widget size is designed to showcase videos, music, games, photos, etc.
Quick Note and Organising with Tags: Notes goes system-wide with Quick Note, a fast and easy way to take notes anywhere across the system. Whether browsing in Safari or finding a restaurant in Maps, users can bring up Quick Note anywhere to jot down a thought and add links.
FaceTime Calls and Shared Experiences with SharePlay: You can now listen to songs together with Apple Music, watch a TV show or movie in sync, or sharing their screen to view apps together with SharePlay. SharePlay also lets users share their screen, perfect for browsing the web together.
On-Device Intelligence Powers New Photo Features: Live Text uses on-device intelligence to recognise text in a photo and allow users to take action.1 For example, a snapshot of a shopfront may reveal a phone number and the option to place a call. With Visual Look Up, users can identify objects within a photo, such as a type of flower or a dog breed.
The event is usually used to showcase new software and technologies in the macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS families as well as other Apple software.
While it was announced at Apple's WWDC 2021 event in June, the new iOS 15 updated won't arrive for some time. There's no official date yet, however, the latest versions of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS are expected to arrive this fall, with fans suggesting the iOS update will come at the same time.
macOS Monterey is the latest operating system for Apple's Mac products. It was unveiled at WWDC 2021 and is expected to arrive later this year.