Apple has just wrapped up the first day of its annual WWDC event, giving consumers and developers alike plenty of new features, software, and updates to ponder. Here’s everything you need to know about iOS 1
Keep in mind that there are still a few days left of Apple’s developer event, which runs until June 11. It doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any new hardware products, but the company will continue to announce software, new features and ideas as it pushes the technology forward. That said, the biggest news came on day one, so here’s everything Apple announced.
iOS 15 improves notifications, brings Android users to FaceTime
First, Apple announced iOS 15, and it was almost as big as the iOS 14 release last year. The upcoming iPhone update introduces FaceTime call links for Android users, spatial audio in FaceTime, music sharing in FaceTime, new Messages controls, a much less annoying notification system, a Focus mode that lets you hide unwanted apps, and much more. more.
Apple has also introduced the so-called “Notification Summary”, which can be scheduled at any time of the day and will show users a summary of their notifications. It seems like a good way to keep distracting notifications at bay, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Apple has also improved the Weather app, Photos, Apple Wallet, added more details and better navigation in Apple Maps, and more. Judging by the announcement, Apple wants us to store everything in Apple Wallet, including a photo of your ID or license that we can eventually use at airports and the like. There’s a lot of news out there, so read our full coverage here.
AirPods can now be used as a hearing aid
Since everyone uses AirPods these days, Apple has decided to make them better too. The biggest update is more of a quality of life issue, and it essentially turns AirPods into a hearing aid. Yes, on iOS 15, AirPods have a new “Conversation Boost” feature that can pick up nearby sounds, and it will even try to isolate the voice of who’s in front of you using machine learning.
Just like Siri can audibly read your messages and texts in your AirPods, with iOS 15 it will do the same with notifications. For example, Siri can tell you that a package has arrived or that your Uber is ready, without having to look at the phone. In addition, AirPods get spatial audio features, better Find My support and a new alert when you hit a button.
iPadOS 15 promises better multitasking and widgets
As expected, Apple took a moment today to talk about the iPad and how it improves the overall experience for everyone. With the new iPadOS 15 update coming soon, there are several new features such as more robust widgets, Quick Notes, split screen, and a vastly improved multitasking experience.
Now you can place a widget anywhere between your apps on your iPad’s home screen, not just on the side. The iPhone got this feature last year with iOS 14, and now it’s on the Pad.
However, multitasking and split view are the best part. A new control panel is available with a tap of a finger at the top of each app, revealing the Multitasking menu. You can use one app in full screen or two apps at once in Split View. There’s also a great “slide-over” feature that lets you slide an app to the edge of the screen. That way, you can easily pick a second app to use from the home screen.
macOS Monterey gets fancy with universal controls
We can’t forget computers, which is why Apple has announced the new macOS Monterey release. You’ll love to hear about new shortcuts, AirPlay to Mac, SharePlay, FaceTime, a redesign of Safari, and more. However, it is the “Universal Control” that gets everyone excited.
For starters, macOS Monterey gets many of the features announced for iOS 15, including Focus, SharePlay, and Quick Notes.
We want to focus on the new Universal Control feature. This allows you to use a single mouse and keyboard between multiple devices such as a Mac and your iPad for a seamless experience with no installation required. In addition, you can easily and instantly drag and drop content, images, text and more between both devices. You can literally draw something with the Apple Pencil and an iPad and then add it to a presentation on your Mac.
Then there’s a whole lot new with Safari, Focus mode, AirPlay, and the Notes program. Here’s a full rundown of macOS Monterey.
watchOS 8 helps you be mindful when sharing photos
watchOS 8 is the latest update for almost all Apple Watch devices series 3 and above. The update includes several new health and mindfulness features, improvements to the Apple Watch Photos app, and some cool home controls with Siri, HomePods, and HomeKit.
The “Breathe App” many watch owners are familiar with is now the Mindfulness app. It reminds you when to breathe, pays more attention to your digital well-being and physical health, and there’s even a Reflect feature that prompts users to think about different aspects of their lives.
Then you will notice some new fitness workouts with custom heart rate and movement algorithms for more accurate stats. On watchOS 8, portrait photos can be your watch background, which you can tap a button and animate. Everything from the iOS 15 Focus mode, new weather app, improvements to the Find My app and network, and more apps also support the Always-on display on Apple Watch.
Our favorite aspect is the ability to send a message to the whole house via HomePod, all by talking into your watch. It’s a great way to tell the family to get up in the morning.
Apple Health allows you to share information with the doctor or family members
This fall with the iOS 15 and watchOS 8 updates, the Apple Health update adds new health tracking features and lets you share data with family and doctors. We already mentioned some health and mindfulness stuff with Apple Watch, but that’s not where the health improvements end.
A new Share tab allows you to privately share your health data with friends, family, carers or doctors. For example, someone recovering from a leg injury could share that data with a physical therapist.
There’s even a new “Trends” area in iOS 15 and the Health app. This gives users a look at their cardio, sleep and other stats. These trends are incorporated into Health Sharing and can even alert you (or your doctor) to long-term health changes, helping you to take control of your health and achieve new goals.
More privacy matters
Today, privacy is a growing concern, and Apple knows it, which is why they introduced some big changes at WWDC 2021. Your email will be more secure, iCloud will get a privacy extension, and soon you’ll be able to help a family member recover their forgotten password.
Apple has introduced a new app privacy reporting feature that you will eventually find in the iOS settings. This report details what data each app has access to, such as location, camera, and microphones. It even shows which third parties those apps share data with and how often.
Then Apple announced a new feature that will help family members. You’ll soon be able to mark a family member as a password recovery contact. And when the family member forgets their password (again), they can choose to send you a recovery code that you can return so they can access the account. That’s pretty neat and something my dad needs ASAP.
A few other things
It’s clear that Apple discussed a lot during its lengthy WWDC 2021 keynote. We’ve got HomePod and HomeKit updates, Siri is arriving on third-party devices like ecobee, WatchOS is getting the ability to stream video doorbell footage, and you can even access video feeds from security cameras on Apple TV. Yes, there are minor changes everywhere.
Finally, this is a developer event after all, so Apple had a few updates to dev tools. For starters, the Mac now supports Testflight, making the development process more like the iPhone. Next, developers can use a new Object Capture tool, Swift now supports Concurrency which makes for cleaner code, Siri works without an internet connection and we expect to hear a lot more in the coming days.
Several betas are available to developers today, and public betas will be available next month. Then expect major updates to all your favorite Apple products this fall.