Here Are All of the Biggest Announcements From Apple’s WWDC 2021

Impressive new upgrades to FaceTime and Safari is getting a makeover.

Tech
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Apple hosted its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday, introducing a number of new software updates for its devices. Notably, Apple released iOS 15, macOS Monterey, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8 and more.

1. The impressive iOS 15 offers major upgrades for FaceTime

iOS 15 introduces major upgrades to a number of popular Apple apps, including new features for FaceTime, Apple Maps, Weather and Wallet.

Apple is integrating spacial audio for FaceTime with iOS 15, which allows for voices to sound as though they are coming out of where users are positioned on screen, along with new microphone modes that separate a user’s voice from background noise.

Portrait mode is also now available for FaceTime, creating more focused video quality, and Group FaceTime can now accommodate a grid layout, which enables participants to see more faces at the same time. In addition, SharePlay allows for FaceTime participants to listen to music or watch a show or movie at the same time and can extend to AppleTV to allow for viewing on a bigger screen. FaceTime calls can be shared through Messages, Calendar, Mail, or third-party apps using a special link, allowing anyone to join a FaceTime call from a web browser on Android and Windows devices.

Among the dozens of other new features: iOS 15 also introduces Focus, a tool that helps users prioritize certain tasks and reduce distractions, notifications have been streamlined into a summary, words in photos or in Safari are able to be easily converted into text for better note taking, Apple Maps has been enhanced for both driving and public transit, Apple Wallet now supports additional types of keys and IDs, privacy features have been better fortified, the Weather app is more dynamic and more. Read the full story here.

2. The new MacOS Monterey allows for seamless integration between devices

MacOS Monterey will support the latest iMac, MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini, as well as Apple’s Intel-based Macs.

The same SharePlay feature for iOS 15 comes to MacOS Monterey, allowing users to share experiences together. Safari has gotten a complete makeover and now offers a sleeker look and a tab organization tool called Tab Groups, which saves a list of tabs for future use. Universal Control and Airplay allow for more fluidly across Apple devices and lets users move between Mac and iPad using a single mouse and keyboard.

Shortcuts also arrives to Mac, automating everyday tasks to enhance productivity, and iCloud+ offers more premium features for the same cost, like enhanced privacy and HomeKit Secure Video support. Read the full story here.

3. iPadOS 15 allows for effortless multitasking

The iPadOS 15 becomes more intuitive with all-new features that make multitasking a breeze. The new operating system allows for Split View or Slide Over mode with a single tap, enabling users to focus on multiple apps at the same time. An all-new shelf feature keeps apps at a user’s fingertips, while new keyboard shortcuts heighten the device’s efficiency.

Widgets can now be scattered across the iPad Home Screen pages and are customized for the larger display of iPad. Note-taking becomes effortless with Quick Note, which allows users to jot down thoughts while using another app, while Live Text uses on-device intelligence to recognize text in a photo gives users a choice of taking several different actions.

The translate app brings new features to iPad that allow for streamlined communication in multiple languages, while Swift Playgrounds gives coders the tools they need to build iPhone and iPad apps directly from their iPad for the App store.

Enhancements to FaceTime are also available on iPadOS 15, along with Focus, Universal Control, Shared with You, Maps and greater privacy controls. Read more here.

4. WatchOS 8 brings better connectivity between your wrist and your home

WatchOS 8 further enhances the most advanced wearable operating system with updates to the Wallet and Home apps. Apple Watch wearers can now securely unlock their cars from a distance, while this fall, users can add keys for their home, office and hotel to their device. Additionally, users with HomeKit-enabled cameras can view who is at their door directly from their wrist while also tapping the intercom to quickly broadcast a message throughout the house.

New workouts, including Tai Chi and Pilates, have been introduced, along with updates to the Breathe app, which allows for greater mindfulness and moments of meditation.

Apple Watch will also now track metrics like time asleep, heart rate and blood oxygen in order to better monitor health changes, while Scribble, dictation, GIFs and emoji are now available for messages. Read more here.

5. New health features across devices may help prevent falls, while developer tools enable iteration of even better apps

Apple unveiled new health and developer tools to enhance user experience across devices.  New tools in iOS 15 can be used to identify, measure and understand changes in a person’s health, including resting heart rate, sleep and cardio fitness. Users can also keep tabs on goals, like increasing running distance or mindful minutes.

Health sharing enables users to share their health and wellness data with a loved one or a doctor, while Walking Steadiness provides insight into fall risk by capturing important mobility data as users walk with their iPhone.

On the developer side, Xcode Cloud allows developers to build and test apps even more efficiently, while Swift — Apple’s intuitive programming language — now allows developers to more easily write code across Apple devices.

Read more here and here.

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