Every year Apple announces the latest and most remarkable features for iOS, iPadOS, MacOS, WatchOS, and TvOS, and every year I’m just a little disappointed they didn’t reveal new hardware. This year is no different. While I would’ve loved to see a new HomePod with a screen, the latest software updates announced at this year’s WWDC are exciting. You will notice a continued emphasis on privacy, artificial intelligence, sound, and automation. Here is a complete list of everything announced today at WWDC 2021.
My Top Five Favorite New Features
Following this is a complete list of features and improvements announced. These are my favorites.
- Focus is a new set of features that help you minimize distractions while you’re working or doing something important. For example, you can now tell your iPhone to give you a summary of all your unimportant notifications at the end of the day. More info below.
- FaceTime just got a huge update that includes Spatial Audio, Voice Isolation, and the ability to schedule FaceTime calls. Work-from-home users seem to be the target audience for these features.
- The Photos app can now detect text in an image and allow you to copy that text straight from said image and paste it into a message or note. This feature blew me away, and I can’t wait to try it out.
- Privacy features at today’s WWDC are the main event. Apple continues to give us more control over who tracks us and where our private information goes. My favorite new privacy feature is native processing for Siri. Now, with iOS 15, most Siri requests are processed right on your Apple device, including your iPhone.
- Tab Groups is one feature I believe we’ll wonder how we lived without. It’s great for picking back up on research in Safari or a work task that requires multiple websites to be open. Click on a saved Tab Group, and all the sites in that group will open for you.
Here is the full list of features:
Solid updates for iOS 15 emphasize FaceTime, Do Not Disturb, and all-new AI features.
Lots of new features for FaceTime. With a focus on shared experiences and better audio.
Spatial Audio: Improves conversations on FaceTime, making conversations feel like you’re in the same room. Voices come from the position the person is speaking in.
Voice Isolation: Blocks out ambient and background noise when speaking to someone over FaceTime. If this works half as good as the demo, it is impressive. Great for when you’re in a noisy coffee shop or airport.
Wide Spectrum: The opposite of Voice Isolation. It better picks up all the sound around you for the person you’re FaceTiming with.
FaceTime Links: You can now schedule a FaceTime group call and generate a link to share with participants. Android users can also use this right from their browser with end-to-end encryption.
SharePlay: You can now watch movies, listen to music, and even watch TikTok videos with people you’re FaceTiming with. Everyone on the call can make a shared playlist in real-time. With screen sharing, you can watch a friend play a video game on FaceTime. This feature sounds excellent for watching anticipated TV shows and pro sports games.
Other FaceTime Features:
- New video grid design for Group FaceTime calls.
- Portrait Mode for video in real-time.
Unfortunately, we did not see a rollout for iMessage on Android. This year, it looks like new features for Messages are light, based on what they announced.
Share With You: When someone shares a news story, a song, or a photo, those items will show up in the appropriate app. For example, if someone shares a story from Apple News, that story will appear in the Apple News app, reminding you that your friend shared it. This feature is rolling out on all Apple native apps like Music, Photos, Podcasts, and Apple TV. You can also pin the share right in Messages.
Photos: There is now a redesigned photo collage for when someone shares multiple photos in iMessage.
Focus is a set of new features to help reduces distractions from your Apple devices.
Notification Summary: You can now schedule your notifications to be delivered in a summary notification at the time you select. That way, you can view all your less important notifications at a time of your choosing.
Do Not Disturb: You can now display your Do Not Disturb status right in Messages, so people who are texting you will know you are currently busy. You also have more control over which notifications you wish to see on DnD mode and which you’d rather see in a summary later. You can also customize which apps appear on the Home Screen and have the ability to create custom focuses.
Intelligence is a new set of features that better detects information in your photos like text, objects, and animals.
Live Text: You can now copy any text straight from an image in Photos and paste it into Mail, Messages, Notes, etc. If the text in an image is a phone number, You can select the number and call it. This includes screenshots. Understands seven languages.
Spotlight: Swipe down on your Home Screen and search for photos based on location or text on the image. Rich results for contacts now include a current location (if FindMy is active), recent locations, and photos.
Photo Memories: The app will now stitch photos together with a similar theme. For example, Photo Memories can group all of your rock climbing and put them into a video that is paced to the selected music automatically. Memory Mixes allow you to customize photo memories with different photos and music from the Apple Music Library.
Wallet, Weather, and Maps
Wallet: Big enfaces on virtual keys for opening doors and starting your car— expanding on 3rd parties who take advantage of the feature like Hilton Hotels.
You can now also upload your state-issued ID to Wallet and use it as identification in most cases for participating states. Corporate badge access is now also included.
Weather: All new app design with more animations based on weather conditions. Now includes a full-screen hi-res weather map with tracking.
Maps: Lots of new, rich details that use augmented reality. Elevation, road labels, and custom landmarks have been added for exploring a new city. Maps now include further road details like crosswalks, bike lanes, and improvements for complex intersections
Improvements for transit maps include the ability to pin favorite lines to the top. You can now also scan the buildings around you to get your exact location in relation to the station. Maps then provides signs and arrows using augmented reality.
AirPods on iOS
Conversation Boost: This feature turns your AirPods into a hearing aid by amplifying the person’s voice speaking to you directly. You can now also reduce the ambient noise around you.
Announce Notifications: Siri can now read your important, time-sensitive notifications while using AirPods. When you’re in a grocery store, Siri can read off your grocery list.
Improved Tracking: Easier to find your AirPods using the FindMy app. If you leave a location without your AirPods, you’ll receive a notification on your iPhone.
Other iOS Features
- Voice search in Safari
- New outfit options for your custom emoji
- Spatial Audio now available on TvOS today
- Dolby Atomos is available on Apple Music today
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I desperately wanted an announcement that Apple has finally created an iPadOS / MacOS hybrid for external displays. It didn’t happen today, but I am excited about the features they did announce.
Widgets and Multitasking
Widgets: Home Screen widget support now available on the iPad. Widgets take advantage of the iPad screen with larger formats and more info.
App Library now also available on iPad.
Multitasking: Now much easier to use and discover. A small icon will appear at the top of the screen that allows you to split view and a few other options. Bottom Self is a new feature that works like windows, allowing you to minimize apps. Multitasking now supports keyboard shortcuts.
Mentions:You can now mention a person from your contacts inside the Notes app. The person will receive a notification with access to the note.
Tags are now supported and include a tag browser.
Quick Note: Swipe from the bottom right of your iPad screen, and a note window will pop up, allowing you to jot down a quick note. You can use this feature in Multitasking, and if you create a quick note about a webpage, an icon will automatically appear in Safari when you return to the webpage later.
You can now make and test apps for iOS and iPadOS directly on your iPad.
Apple continues its mission to become the most privacy-centric tech company in the world.
Mail Privacy Protection: This feature allows you to block cookies that track your IP address and your open email status.
App Privacy Report: This feature shows you how apps treat your privacy, including how often apps use the permissions you’ve granted, like your current location. You can now see which other websites an app is sharing your information with based on ping requests.
Siri: Processing for most Siri requests now happens natively on your device, removing the need to send private data to Apple’s servers to process. Not only does this help with privacy, but Siri also appears to be much faster with basic requests like setting an alarm or skipping a song.
iCloud Account Recovery: You can now create an account recovery list of trusted contacts. If you’re locked out of your account, you can call a contact from the list to get the code you need to authenticate your account.
Digital Legacy Program: You can authorize a list of people who can request and receive access to your data when you die.
New security features without a hike in price.
Private Relay: Web traffic from your Apple device is now encrypted. No one, including Apple, can see which sites you visit.
Hide My Email: You can generate a temporary email address right in the Mail app. Apple will forward any emails from that address to your primary email.
HomeKit Secure Video: Connect unlimited security cameras to your iCloud + account and store your video footage. This feature does not count against your 5GB cap for free accounts.
Walking Steadiness: Your Apple Watch can now analyze your walking patterns and access if you’re at risk for a fall.
Lab Results and health data: The Health app can now obtain your lab results from your primary doctor and provide insight into what the results mean. It is also now easier to provide your health data collected in your Apple Watch to your doctor.
Family Health Sharing: You can now set up your family in the Health app and help monitor health trends for your child or aging parent. All data send encrypted, and Apple does not have access to this info.
Updates to WatchOS were scarce but, the features announced were exciting and improved the health benefits for the Apple Watch.
Reflect: A new app that provides a new way to be more mindful. Prompts will ask you to spend a moment thinking about something like — “What makes you happy.”
Respiratory Rate: Your Apple Watch can now track your breathing pattern and notify you of any changes.
Photos: New app design that includes Memories. You can now also share photos from your Apple Watch.
Other WatchOS features:
- New animation for the Breathe app
- New workouts, including Tai Chi
- Seven new workouts by Jeanette Jenkins
- New artist workout series from artists like Lady Gaga
- Portrait Watch Face gives custom photos with the time of day embedded in the image
- GIF support in Messages
I was disappointed they didn’t announce a new HomePod with a screen, but that’s the way it goes at this software-only event. Here are the new features for HomeKit.
HomeKeys: Lock and unlock your front door with a wave of your iPhone.
Voice Recognition: Any family member in your home can ask Siri to do something, and Siri will recognize the voice. You can tell Siri to add a reminder for you, and it will know to add it to your personal reminders.
For All of You: Apple TV will now recommend content that is appropriate for the entire family.
Matter: Details on this new automation standard from Apple are sparse.
Other HomeKit features:
- You can now ask Siri to play videos located on your Apple TV, including streaming apps.
- HomePod Mini can now be used as surround sound for your Apple TV 4K
- Expanded Siri support for third-party hardware like Ecobee.
- You can now see who is at the door from your Apple Watch
- You can now control your security cameras from your Apple TV.
Monterey, the new update for MacOS will include most of the features announced in iOS and iPadOS, like the new FaceTime features, SharePlay, Focus, and Quick Notes.
Universal Control: You can now line up your iPad, Mac, and iMac next to each other and use a single mouse to control all three devices. You can even drag files from one device over to another device using your mouse or trackpad. No set up needed, connection happens automatically and seamlessly.
Shortcuts: Now available on MacOS! Apple says this is the future of automation on the Mac.
Tab Groups: Group tabs together and save them for later. For example, if you’re researching your trip to Puerto Rico and need to return to it later, you can add all the websites you have open into a Group Tab and pick it up later.
Other Safari features
- New customizable start page, synced to every device
- Extensions are now supported on iOS and iPadOS and synced across devices.
New Developer Technologies
New APIs: Developers now have API access to SharePlay, Voice Isolation, Focus, Notifications, ScreenTime, Reality Kit, and Object Capture.
Object Capture: Developers can now turn a series of 2D images into a 3D rendering. Can now also scan objects in front of the camera and turn them into 3D renderings.
Concurrency: This feature makes it easier for developers to write code for parallel tasks.
In-app Events: allows apps to highlight new feature releases, movies, music, and more right in the App Store.
XCode Cloud: Build and test apps in the cloud with team sharing capabilities. Beta is available today, full roll-out next year.
Other App Store Features
- Improved App Product pages with support for A/B testing
- TestFlight now available on Mac for Mac apps
There you have it, everything announced at WWDC 2020. Did I miss something? Have a hard opinion on a new feature? Hit me up on IG: jasondotgov. Thanks for reading; chat with you soon.