Here’s everything Apple announced at the WWDC 2021 keynote – TechCrunch


It’s that time again! This morning Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference the same way it does each year: a keynote jammed to the brim with all the new stuff coming to its various devices.

Didn’t have time to tune in to the liveblog or watch the stream? We get it. That’s why we’ve boiled all of the biggest news down to the bulletpoints for you below. Skim at your leisure!

iOS 15

Craig Federighi started things off with details on the latest major update to iOS, noting that this release focuses on four points: staying connected, finding focus, using intelligence, and exploring the world. iOS 15 will roll into public beta in July, with a full release “this fall.”

FaceTime updates

  • Spatial audio:When using a compatible audio setup, spatial audio will make it seem more like your friends voices are coming from their on-screen position.
  • Voice isolation:Better (and toggle-able) voice isolation for when you’re FaceTiming from a loud environment.
  • Portrait mode:The portrait mode from the camera app is coming to FaceTime in other words, pretty background blurring.
  • FaceTime links:You’ll now be able to generate shareable FaceTime links to let others (including desktop and Android users via the browser!) join FaceTime calls.
  • SharePlay:Shared audio/video streams to allow you to listen to music, watch video (select video partners initially, including Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and TikTok), and control apps in sync with friends. You can pushed the shared videos to your AppleTV, keeping it all synced up between devices and households.

“Focus” mode

  • You’ll be able to shift your phone into different, customizable modes like “work”, where only your work related apps will show up, or “personal” which could tuck all those work apps and widgets to the background. Vacation mode, activate!
  • Notifications batching: You can now tell iOS to batch less important notifications together, delivering them all at a specific time (like after you’ve woken up, rather than letting them trickle in throughout the night.)

Live Text

WWDC 2021 - Photos - Live Text

The camera can now recognize text in photos (handwritten or printed) and make it selectable, searchable, copy/pastable, etc. It can recognize things beyond text, as well, including animal breeds, landmarks, etc.

Apple Wallet

Apple is incorporating home, office, and hotel keys into Apple Wallet, allowing you to unlock compatible doors in those places with your phone. You’ll be able to check into select hotels, for example, and have your room key show up on your phone as soon as your room is ready.

They’re also working with the TSA (in select states, at first) to put an encrypted copy of your state driver’s license (!) in Wallet that will be accepted at security screenings.

Apple Maps

Image Credits: Apple

Maps is getting a details-focused overhaul, with the addition of 3D elevation maps, 3D rendered landmarks, crosswalks, bikelanes, etc.

Apple Maps is also taking some cues from Google Maps, including a mode that has you use the camera to scan nearby buildings to more precisely orient the phone and help you figure out which direction you’re supposed to go at the beginning of a walk.

AirPods Updates

  • Conversation mode:AirPods Pro will now allow you to boost the volume of voices (and control the volume of ambient noise) of those around you when you’re having a face-to-face conversation in a noisy environment.
  • Find My: AirPods will now work with the Find My app even when they’re in the case, and will be able to alert you if you leave them behind.
  • Spatial audio is coming to tvOS and M1-powered Macs

iPadOS

  • iPadOS will get home screen widgets. They’re pretty similar to the ones you’ve seen on iOS, with the addition of a much bigger widget option because, well, bigger screen.
  • The “App Library” concept is making its way from iOS to iPadOS, as well.
  • A new multitasking menuwill (hopefully) simplify the way you handle multitasking on iPadOS, moving the system away from the easily-forgotten gestures currently required.
  • The Notes app will now let you @ mention someone in a shared note to get their attention on a change, and highlight changes when you come back to a shared doc. “Quick Notes”, meanwhile, will let you create a note from anywhere by swiping up from the bottom right corner of the screen.
  • Translate: iPadOS will get a system-wide text translation option, along with an app for translating in-person conversations in real time.
  • Swift Playgrounds will now let you build apps on the iPad and submit them to the App Store.
  • Public beta in July, full release “this fall.”

Security Updates

  • Mail app will now automatically obscure your IP address/location from those invisible tracking pixels marketers love to tuck into emails
  • An “App Privacy Report” option in settings will now summarize how often any given app accesses your location, photos, etc to hopefully flag any unexpected behaviors.
  • Siri’s speech recognition will now happen on-device, keeping the audio recordings off of Apple’s servers and allowing for Siri commands without an internet connection
  • You’ll be able to add recovery contacts to your iCloud account, allowing you to select friends who can help you get back into your iCloud account if you get locked out. You’ll also be able to pick “Legacy” contacts who can request access to your iCloud data should you pass away.

Health updates

  • Your iPhone can now analyze your gait, step timing, etc to analyze your “walking steadiness” to hopefully flag if your fall risk is increasing over time.
  • A “Trends” summary in the health app will highlight patterns in your step counts, heart rate, etc
  • New “Health sharing” options will let you securely share health data with people you care about like that of your parents, or your kids.

watchOS

  • watchOS will now be able to help track your respiratory rate (how many breaths you take per minute), and note how you might breathe differently throughout the day (like when you’re sleeping). They’re also adding new workout modes to the activity tracking engine, including Tai Chi and Pilates.
  • A new “Portraits” watchface will use your portrait-mode photos to create a neat, layered-looking clock layout

  • Text input is getting a subtle overhaul on watchOS, with the “Scribble” handwriting recognition being incorporated right into the text view. You use the crown to place the text cursor, then draw the letters/symbols you want right on top of your text.
  • Public beta in July, full release “this fall.”

Siri goes to third party devices

Apple says it’s opening up Siri to third party manufacturers and their devices, allowing Siri to live on things like ecobee thermostats beginning later this year.

macOS

  • The next major release of macOS will be called macOS Monterey
  • All of the aforementioned SharePlay stuff which allows you to watch video and listen to music in sync with friends over FaceTime is coming to macOS.
  • Universal control” will let you use one keyboard/mouse setup to control multiple macs and iPads, automatically recognizing when a new compatible device is placed nearby. Put an iPad next to your Macbook, and bam it automatically extends, turning the two devices into one big canvas.
  • Macs are getting AirPlay, allowing you to send AirPlay content to your Mac’s display like you might an AppleTV.
  • The “Shortcuts” automation system from iOS is coming to macOS, allowing you to quickly drag-and-drop together scripts to do the things you find yourself doing often. (If you’re already using macOS’ automator system, it’ll still be supported for now.)
  • Safari is getting a UI overhaul; tabs are being made smaller, and they’re introducing a “tab groups” system to keep things organized. Tab groups will automatically sync between iCloud devices.
  • Public beta in July, full release “this fall.”

Dev stuff

Though its called the Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple tends to keep the keynote focused largely on the consumer-facing stuff and save the most technical bits for the week’s many breakout sessions. They did touch on a few developer highlights, though, including:

  • New APIs to hook into things like SharePlay, Focus, etc.
  • iOS is getting a built-in 3D object scanning system that developers can tie into their apps, allowing them to integrate 3D scanning-style functionality without having to reinvent that wheel.
  • Devs will now be able to build multiple App Store product pages for the same app with different icons, screenshots, etc to see which one resonates best.
  • TestFlight the service for privately distributing pre-release/beta apps on Apple’s phone/tablet/watch operating systems is coming to macOS.

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