Last month Apple hosted one of their biggest yearly events, WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference). The event, which took place on 7 June, is probably second in importance only to the new iPhone reveal in the autumn. Past events have unveiled products such as the new iMac Pro in 2017, and the new Mac Pro and a new display in 2019, however, WWDC 2021 focused strictly on software. If you’d like to watch the whole event you can find it here, but if you don’t have the time right now, we’ve put together a handy list of everything you may have missed:
The new operating system for iPhones brings a raft of new features, tweaks to the interface and all-important security fixes. Facetime in particular is getting a host of new features including, SharePlay screen sharing, Facetime links, voice isolation and portrait mode.
Other great new features include Focus, a new way to optimise you productivity. With Focus, you can set custom modes for your phone such as ‘work’ or ‘gym’ and only apps related to that mode will be able to send push notifications – you can even create a completely different home screen layout for each mode! Apple Maps have also had a big update, which incorporates improved navigation, 3D details and a new night mode. Additionally, Live Text, which allows you to copy and paste text from a photo, richer offline Siri support and more!
As well as all the great new features iOS 15, iPadOS 15 will include exclusive features such as App Library and Widgets (which we have already grown to love in iOS), Swift Playgrounds (where you can develop your own apps for iPhone and iPad).
Along with the name for the new macOS, Apple announced that the new macOS would include the arrival of the Health app and shortcuts on Mac. As well as AirPlay to Mac (both audio and video), Spatial Audio support from compatible sources, a revised Safari experience and most excitingly of all, Universal Control which will make working across multiple devices a seamless process.
The new watchOS 8 will feature a reworked Health experience, including a new Mindfulness app that will intergrade with the existing (albeit updated) Breathe app to create a new Reflect experience. The watch will also monitor your respiratory rate and take note of how you breathe differently throughout the day and at night to help you sleep better.
In addition to this, watchOS 8 has also upgraded its watchface with a new Portrait watch face, which uses the depth data to allow your favourite Portrait images and clock to fit together more cohesively. Also, memories and feature photos will be included in the new Photos app and sharing along with message composition has also been made easier on-watch too.
With no new hardware in sight during WWDC 2021, tvOS played a supporting role, highlighting features that will complement existing products and software. This included new multi-window security camera views when devices are paired with HomeKit-enabled cameras and the introduction of Spatial Audio with compatible AirPods. Also, Watch Together and screen sharing are now supported on tvOS as part of iOS 15’s Share Play upgrade.
More of a rebrand than a new service, however iCloud+ (formally iCloud) subscribers will receive a few additional perks to plans such as more secure encrypted browsing online, a new feature called ‘Hide my Email’ which gives you access to unlimited temporary email addresses to use for things like newsletters and mailing lists which are automatically forward to your actual email address. Also, there will be additional support for HomeKit Secure Video allowing you to add unlimited cameras and stored footage will not count towards your iCloud storage allowance.
With the new Health app, your iPhone will be able to analyse your step timing as well as the steadiness of your walking. Patterns in your heart rate and step count will be visible in your ‘trends’. The summary of your health data will now also be able to be shared via the ‘Health Sharing’ option. This will allow you to securely share your health data with friends and family, whether it be for competitive reasons or to keep them up to date on your health.
A brief talking point, but nonetheless an important one, AirPods will have improved functionality called Conversation Boost. This will make it easier for those who are hard of hearing to follow along in real-world conversations by helping reduce background noise and amplifying speech. Also, AirPods Pro and AirPods Max now also work with Apple’s Find My network.
What’s everyone else up to?
Not a fan of Apple? Not a problem! Windows 11 will be available later this year with a brand-new windows experience, including new tools snap layouts and desktops to help you multi-task and increase productivity.
Also, more flexibility to curate your content with a new widgets panel. Google also announced lots of updates for their products at Google I/O, including Android 12 which is currently in development. Android 12 will have radical design changes, interconnected workspaces, Android integrations, various new services powered by AI.