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5 must know software updates and features from WWDC21 for Apple device users

25th June 2021
"Apple’s big event WWDC21 kicked off on Monday, and will run till Friday, June 11"

Apple’s big event WWDC21 kicked off on Monday, and will run till Friday, June 11.

The tech giant announced major updates and new updates and features on its softwares and the world is buzzing right now. The annual event is being held virtually due to the pandemic. There have been huge updates in the iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, MacOS and more. 

Let’s take a look at some must know updates for Apple device users: 

  • iOS 15

iOS 15 introduces new features for FaceTime calls, tools to reduce distractions, a new notifications experience, added privacy features, complete redesigns for Safari, Weather, and Maps, and more. Notifications have been redesigned, adding contact photos for people and larger icons for apps. 

Focus is a new feature that can filter notifications and apps based on what a user wishes to focus on at a certain time. Safari features a completely new design. Controls are now easier to reach with one hand and give more focus to a webpage's content. The Maps app now offers a new 3D view in cities with significantly enhanced details, showing buildings, pedestrian crosswalks, bike lanes, and more.

iOS 15 brings voice isolation and Spatial Audio to FaceTime calls so that voices appear to sound as if they are coming from where the person is located on the screen. 

  • FaceTime update 

The company is bringing FaceTime to Android and Windows through the web. This also means that FaceTime is all set to take on the likes of Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet alternatives. iOS users would be able to share a link to a FaceTime meeting with users with non-Apple devices. Apple has also added features like the schedule call option, which takes on Zoom. This means that iOS 15 will allow you to schedule a FaceTime video or audio call with a bunch of friends, regardless of what device they are on. Other features announced for FaceTime include the all-new SharePlay, which will let you watch a movie or listen to a song or see gameplay in sync with your friends.

  • Live Text

Apple announced a new feature called Live Text, which will digitize the text in all your photos. This unlocks a slew of handy functions, from turning handwritten notes into emails and messages to searching your camera roll for receipts or recipes you’ve photographed. With Live Text, for example, you can tap on the text in any photo in your camera roll or viewfinder and immediately take action from it. You can copy and paste that text, search for it on the web, or if it’s a phone number call that number. Apple says the feature is enabled using “deep neural networks” and “on-device intelligence,” with the latter being the company’s preferred phrasing for machine learning. It stresses Apple’s privacy-heavy approach to AI, which focuses on processing data on-device rather than sending it to the cloud.

  • iPadOS 15

The new iPadOS has lots of the features of that iPhone operating system, but with a few extras that make the most of the tablet form factor. With iPadOS 15, Apple introduced several new features to the Home Screen. It’s now possible to add widgets wherever the user wants on the Home Screen. In the bottom right corner, users can finally find the App Library, introduced with iOS 14. Swiping all the way to the last page also opens the App Library.

Another feature announced with iPadOS 15 is Focus. With this function, users can select what kind of notifications they will receive while working or having some personal time. If a user selects “Do Not Disturb” or “Work” in a device, all other Apple devices will follow the same settings. The new Notification Center uses machine learning and your Focus settings to better show relevant notifications throughout the day. The notification icons are now bigger and clearer. 

  • Privacy update 

Apple has introduced powerful new privacy protections in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8, which help users better control and manage access to their data. These features represent the latest innovations in Apple’s legacy of privacy leadership, as the company has continually expanded its commitment to privacy and encouraged change across the industry with features like App Tracking Transparency and Privacy Nutrition Labels on the App Store.

In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location. 

With App Privacy Report, users can see how often each app has used the permission they’ve previously granted to access their location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts during the past seven days. With on-device speech recognition, the audio of users’ requests is processed right on their iPhone or iPad by default. This addresses one of the biggest privacy concerns for voice assistants, which is unwanted audio recording. For many requests, Siri processing is also moving on device, enabling requests to be processed without an internet connection, such as launching apps, setting timers and alarms, changing settings, or controlling music.

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Major announcements from Apple’s WWDC 2021

24th June 2021
"Apple officially kicked off WWDC 2021 with its opening keynote last night"

Apple officially kicked off WWDC 2021 with its opening keynote last night.

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The company has announced the future of its software platforms, detailing new features in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, macOS 12 Monterey, and more. Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, is the company’s annual conference for software makers.

Following are the major announcements made by Apple last night:

  • iOS 15 

The conference was kicked off with the official introduction of iOS 15. This update includes major improvements for FaceTime, new Focus features designed to reduce distractions, an all-new Weather application, and more.

The FaceTime improvements in iOS 15 are especially notable, and they’re also coming to other platforms including iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey. FaceTime calls will now work on Android and Windows devices via the web as well. Apple will also allow users to send links to schedule individual FaceTime calls, like Zoom links. Users can also share their screens or music, through a new software feature called ShareTime.

iOS 15 also includes a host of new digital wellbeing features called Focus. This allows users to filter notifications, signal to friends that they are unavailable, and hide distractions without missing what’s important. 

Apple has announced a handful of new features for Apple Maps. There are a variety of design updates for Apple Maps to bring a ton more details for cities in commercial districts, buildings, and more.

Apple has redesigned the Weather application with a ton of new capabilities and an all-new design. Apple says that the layout of the new Weather app changes based on the weather in your current location.

  • iPadOS 15

Apple also introduced iPadOS 15, the biggest change here is that widgets are now available on the iPad home screen for the first time. The widgets are not delegated only to the Today View on the side of the Home Screen anymore , they can be placed in the midst of all of your other app icons.

iPadOS 15 also includes a new multi-tasking system for applications. The new system is similar to iPadOS 14, but Apple has rethought how you access the controls. You can also now have access to the Home Screen when using Split View, making it easier to get to the right app.

The Translate application is now on the iPad as well. The Translate app first came to the iPhone with iOS 14 last year. 

Apple also announced that Swift Playgrounds now allows users to build iPhone and iPad apps right on their iPad, and submit them to the App Store.

  • macOS Monterey

For the Mac, Apple announced macOS 12 Monterey to the public. One of the biggest changes here is that the Shortcuts automation app is now available on the Mac for the first time.

You can build new shortcuts, access existing shortcuts, and more. The Shortcuts app on the Mac also integrates with Spotlight, appears in Finder, supports multitasking, and integrates with the Menu bar. Apple has also brought its TestFlight beta testing app to the Mac this year, allowing developers to beta test their apps easily on the Mac.

Another announcement last night was Universal Control, which lets users work with a single mouse and keyboard and move between Mac and iPad for a seamless experience, with no setup required. Safari comes with a redesign for the browsing experience with a new tab design that lets users see more of the page as they scroll. With macOS Monterey, your Mac is also now an AirPlay target, which allows you to cast videos from your other Apple devices to your Mac’s display.

  • WatchOS 8

 The WatchOS 8 update brings a new version of the Breathe app, now called Mindfulness. Photo watch faces can now include depth using portrait mode photos. The Photos app has been overhauled with featured highlights and memories. Photos can also now be shared from the watch with Messages and Mail.

The always-on watch face has been updated to work with three new applications: Music, Maps, and Calculator. Apple also says that apps that don’t support the always-on face include new enhancements to improve compatibility.

The first beta of watchOS 8 is available now to developer beta testers, and a public beta will be released sometime next month. 

  • iCloud +

Apple also unveiled iCloud+ during the conference, with the new privacy features such as Private Relay and Hide My Email. Through Private Relay, all traffic leaving your device is encrypted and sent through two separate relays. Apple says that no one, not even Apple, can access or view this data. 

Hide My Email is a new feature built into Mail, Safari, and other services and it allows you to hide your email from services for increased privacy. iCloud+ also includes unlimited HomeKit Secure Video cameras. Currently, iCloud users are limited to five cameras per account, but this limit has been removed for iCloud+.

  • Privacy update 

Apple is strengthening its privacy protection by rolling out tracker-blockers in its Mail app, which will help hide your IP address, location and prevent senders from seeing if and when you open an email. It’s also hiding IP addresses from trackers in Safari. Apple is also adding an App Tracker Report section to settings, where users can see how often apps use info in the last seven days and find out third party domains the app is contacting. Finally, Apple said that Siri will support offline speech recognition, which means it’s more private but also faster, since some commands won’t have to be sent to the cloud first.

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Apple Music subscribers can now listen to Dolby Atmos spatial audio

24th June 2021
"Apple Music subscribers may now hear Dolby Atmos spatial audio and lossless tracks for free"

Apple Songs now provides free access to music in Dolby Atmos and lossless quality.

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Apple announced support for spatial audio during the Apple Music Spatial Audio event, bringing the Dolby Atmos music standard and high-resolution lossless music to Apple Music. The best aspect is that Apple Music members do not have to pay anything more to enjoy the high-quality music standards. Dolby Atmos is now accessible in a large catalog of titles from various artists and genres, according to Apple, and lossless music is now available in several of them.

Spatial Audio will provide depth to music by allowing for the placement of an instrument in a chorus and immersive 3D sound.

Apple Music will feature Dolby Atmos-tuned music on AirPods and Beats headphones equipped with the W1 or H1 chipset. However, according to the firm, certain alternative headphones are also compatible. In terms of lossless audio, Apple provides customers with both CD quality and high-resolution lossless quality standards, but the latter would necessitate the use of an external DAC for compatibility with headphones and earbuds. And because these two audio qualities are not enabled by default, you will be listening to the normal AAC format.

According to Apple, there are over 20 million songs available in lossless quality, which spans a wide spectrum of genres.

Apple, on the other hand, hopes to provide lossless quality to its entire repertoire of over 75 million songs by the end of 2021. Apple has even created playlists with thumbnails informing Apple Music users about the new lossless format. However, the collection of music with spatial audio support is smaller than that of lossless music, but Apple is promoting Dolby Atmos tracks from some of the most well-known artists, bands, and labels. Apple Music will gradually add more tunes with Dolby Atmos support.

Apple Music is the only place where you can listen to lossless music. This means you can stream and download it, but you'll need to adjust the audio quality settings.

The usual lossless quality music will be playable on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV 4K. However, for high-resolution lossless quality music, you will need an additional DAC, which, while pricey, will delight audiophiles.

Apple Music's new lossless music competes with Amazon Music HD, which also streams CD-quality music. Amazon reduced the price of Amazon Music HD to $9.99 per month shortly after Apple announced lossless music last month. Meanwhile, Spotify has stated that it would introduce Hi-Res lossless music quality later this year.

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Apple’s Health Sharing feature now allows users share their heart rate, sleep pattern with friends and family

24th June 2021
"Apple announced that the Health App on the iPhone will give users the ability to share their data with their family members and doctors"

Apple announced that the Health App on the iPhone will give users the ability to share their data with their family members and doctors.

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They can receive insights into their health trends based on the data shared. The best part of the feature is that the data is end-to-end encrypted and not even Apple can access it.

Talking about the new feature, Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer said, “This past year has emphasized the importance of health, and we’re enabling our users to take a more active role in their well-being. We’ve added powerful features that give users the most comprehensive set of insights to better understand their health trends over time. Many people around the world are caring for someone, and we want to provide a secure and private way for users to have a trusted partner on their health journey. We’re excited to bring these innovative tools directly into users’ hands.”

It is an important tool for children who are stay away from their parents in different cities and countries. Although you are always connected with your parents over calls, you don’t really have enough idea about their vitals which can help you determine their health conditions. The Health app on the Apple iPhone has received a new Sharing tab that lets users privately share their data with a trusted partner or caregiver. Users can decide what kind of data they want to share with their family member or physician.

Users in the United States can share data including like heart rate, detected falls, hours of sleep, or exercise minutes with their doctors to determine their health conditions. The doctor can then review the data shared by the patient and recommend treatment accordingly.

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