Apple officially kicked off its week-long Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) virtual event on Monday with a plethora of new and interesting announcements. While there were no hardware or product announcements on Day 1 of WWDC 2021, there were still a bunch of interesting announcements. Apple has a long list of operating systems to maintain, and the tech giant previewed an all-new iOS 15, macOS Monterey, iPad OS 15, and watchOS 8, among other announcements.
Along these lines, Apple showed off some major changes to its product line’s operating systems. We have consolidated all the major features and changes made to these newer iterations of operating systems, and here is everything you need to know about them.
iOS 15 is official, and Apple unveiled the first look at the company’s next major operating system update to power the iPhones.
Apple announced that its newest operating systems would feature an overhauled FaceTime. For starters, it will be pre-loaded with the ability to work on non-Apple devices, making it a complete cross-platform video conferencing platform like Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet. With the all-new FaceTime links, users will be able to generate a link for FaceTime calls to share, plan, and schedule meetings ahead. However, Android and other non-iOS users will not be getting a standalone app but will have to rely on a web interface.
SharePlay is yet another intuitive feature that will be baked in iOS15. It will allow FaceTime users to share music, videos, links, and more with all participants during FaceTime calls simultaneously. Apple, at WWDC 2021, showed an example where streaming services such as Disney+, Twitch, NBA, HBO Max, and ESPN+ were being shared on FaceTime calls. Apple also mentioned that it will release an API that will allow other non-Apple app developers to build more supported applications. SharePlay will also let you share music playlists, have shared playback controls, and create a shared queue of music tracks to play together. Screen sharing, spatial audio, portrait mode, and grid view are among the other major updates added to FaceTime with iOS 15.
Shared with You
The new “Shared with You” mode will enable users to share photos, news stories, music playlists, and more through messages. The content sent will be automatically highlighted in the corresponding application for the user to view and acknowledge the message. For example, a news story shared by any of your friends or family member via messages will show up highlighted in the News app. This will also allow users to jump from the News app directly to the messages where the link was shared for the user to be able to acknowledge it. Photos shared from messages will now automatically be added to the photo library as featured images or memories.
Shared with You is built to run with Safari, Photos, Apple Music, News, Apple Podcast, and Apple TV. Apple believes that this new update paired with the list of updates to FaceTime will provide more meaningful ways for the users to connect with their loved ones.
Apple is redesigning the notifications in iOS 15 to help users find space to focus without distraction. According to the company, this mode will enable users to filter out notifications that are not relevant to the user’s ongoing task/activity. Instead of showing a single list of all the alerts, all device notifications will be filtered out with larger icons and profile photos in case of notification from someone in the contacts.
The new notification summary is a helpful collection of the notifications, which can be scheduled to notify at any user-defined time. Apple also announced that it has implemented an on-demand machine learning model to determine the difference between the important vs. less time-sensitive notifications as part of the new notification summary.
Apple also unveiled Focus, which, as the name suggests, is meant to help users focus on their current state of activities. Apple mentioned that this new mode uses on-device intelligence to track your past activities to suggest apps and allow notifications from work. One example of this new feature: Users can choose to be notified only by coworkers when at work. Only the notifications from the apps associated with work, such as mail and calendar, will be notified to the user.
Apple’s Live Text is a largely similar feature as seen in Google Lens, where users can extract the text from the camera app within the iPhone. This text can be extracted out into notes, messages, emails, or wherever you can fit textual information in. Apple announced that the Live Text will support seven languages (English, Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Portuguese) while working across iPhones, iMacs, and iPads.
Live Text can also recognize objects and scenes, such as identifying a breed of a dog, recognizing landmarks, and more.
Apple announced a bunch of new integrations in Apple Wallet and is trying to replace the traditional wallets with its digital application. Apple Wallet will now support transit cards in few major cities, including San Francisco, Beijing, and Tokyo. The company is also partnering with several companies globally to enable digital authentication and validation for unlocking and accessing hotel rooms, automobiles, houses, and more. Apple has also started to integrate identity cards such as driver’s licenses in Apple Wallet in participating states in the United States (to begin with). Both iPhones and iWatches will be supporting these new features of Apple Wallet in their respective new releases set to roll out starting this fall.
Conversations Boost is an all-new feature for AirPods meant to serve as hearing aids to help users focus better on the ongoing conversations. Announce notifications with Siri are now supported on AirPods. An example use-case of this new feature would be Siri reading out your shopping list to help you shop.
AirPods Pro and AirPods Max can now be found on Apple’s Find My network. Enhanced spatial audio and dynamic head tracking are among the other major announcements made for the AirPods.
While a majority of the updates and announcements made for iOS 15 will make their way to iPad OS 15, Apple did announce some iPad-specific updates at WWDC 2021.
Apple has finally decided to bake in on-screen widgets and an app library for iPads that will allow users to place widgets anywhere on their device’s screen. Apple’s Translate app, which was announced in iOS 14, is making its way to the iPads with iPadOS 15. Translate offers users easy side-by-side translations of two languages while supporting up to 11 different languages. All new split-screen views and different multitasking modes with dedicated menu buttons are among the other major announcements made for iPadOS 15.
macOS Monterey, also known as macOS 12, is the company’s newest iteration of the Mac operating system. On top of the regular improvements in terms of performance, processing, security, and privacy, macOS Monterey will include new features like Universal Control that will allow Mac users to seamlessly access common mouse and keyboard across their Macs and iPads. Macs will also be sporting AirPlay to utilize the larger screen sizes and will also be packing in Shortcuts to allow users to take advantage of automation as seen in the existing iOS.
From its announcements at WWDC 2021, Apple seemed very interested in streamlining Safari. Safari is going to receive major updates not just in terms of security and privacy but also in terms of providing a better overall user experience. With Safari’s newly redesigned toolbar and grouped tabs, users can now experience a more fluid browsing experience. These new changes to Safari will also be made available for iPhones and iPads with their respective upcoming OS updates.
WWDC 2021: Wrapping it up
Apple also unveiled watchOS 8 at WWDC 2021. Apart from these major announcements, Apple announced new and improved features in iCloud, Health, Spotlight, Memories, Maps, Weather, and more. While each of these aforementioned operating systems has its own set of features and additions, there are few unifying aspects about all these announcements. Privacy and security are a top priority while the tech giant aims to provide a more unified experience for its users across different devices. All these aforementioned operating systems are currently available in beta form for developers while the public beta versions of the same are expected to be available starting July. The company also mentioned that all these updates will be released for the general public starting in the fall of this year.
Image credits: Apple