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