What you need to know from Apple WWDC 2021

Read on for a selection of our favourite announcements from the Apple keynote event

iPhones with iOS 15 features

by William Lobley |

iOS 15 has been officially announced by Apple. Though rumours have been flowing for a while, Apple confirmed the new iOS during the WWDC 2021 keynote. Of course, the event was more than just a name-reveal party and more than just a conference for developers. It was Apple’s chance to show audiences the world over what to expect from Apple in the coming year. Turns out, quite a bit.

Though there were no hardware announcements, there were software updates aplenty. Having watched the event live, we’ve picked out the best and most important announcements for you. Alternatively, you can watch the two-hour stream here:

Apple will be releasing the public beta of iOS 15 in July. However, most users will have to wait until autumn, most likely in September - this is also pretty likely to coincide with a new iPhone release. This is also the case for watchOS 8 and iPad OS 15.

Apple will support iOS 15 on a wide range of iPhones. From the iPhone 6, 7 and 8, through to the X range, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, and into the iPhone 12 mini, 12, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max.

Without any more delay, here are our favourite reveals from Apple WWDC 2021 keynote presentation:

Note: this isn’t chronological - we’ve gathered them together into related topics

Social Sharing

The update announcements for FaceTime were a particularly early highlight, with the announcement that several key features will be debuting on the app. These include Voice isolation, background blurring and Android support via shareable links. SharePlay is also arriving, a features that brings shared music and movies to voice calls. You can read more about it here.

The iMessage app is getting new sharing features and updated ways to manage and engage with shared content, including photos and video. A new Shared With You folder will appear on certain Apple apps, highlighting content that has been shared, and by who.

Apple Airpods lost update
©Photo: Apple

Audio

Several changes are coming to Apple AirPods. For the hearing impaired, there’s a new Conversation Boost that boosts the speech of people that an AirPod user is speaking to - that's in-person, not over the phone. Spatial audio is finally here and with it support for Dolby Atmos. Read more about what’s on the way here.

AirPods can now be tracked via the Find My app using a secure Bluetooth connection. Similar functions are found in the Apple AirTag, launched earlier this year. You can read more about the Apple AirTag here.

Wellbeing

The next Apple Watch operating system, watchOS 8, brings with it new mindfulness and health features. This includes respiratory rate tracking and Fitness Plus updates, a sleep tracking app, Breathe app, and new workout routines.

The Apple Health app is receiving a notable upgrade. Walking Steadiness will assess the user's likeliness to fall, alongside other quality of life improvements to the gathering and reporting of general health metrics, such as steps and heart rate. Certain stats can be shared with medical professionals when required, but this currently seems to be focused on US private medical health care.

iPad iOS 15
©Apple

Productivity

A new Focus mode is heading to iOS. Similar to Do Not Disturb, Focus allows users to set what notifications they would like to receive and specific times. The theory is that this can allow you to stay free of distractions during working hours. Advanced Spotlight features and Live Text reading also promise to smooth out phone use and boost productivity.

macOS Monterey is the next version of the operating system for Apple Macs. Information is still light on the ground, but so far we’ve seen Universal Control, a feature for seamless working across three devices, AirPlay for Mac and an improved, streamlined Safari update. You can read more about macOS Monterey here.

iPad OS 15 is looking to bring productivity to Apple tablet users. New features include widgets, multitasking split-screen and system-wide translation.

Apple Privacy update
©Apple

Privacy

Mail and Safari are getting some new privacy features. Mail will now allow users to hide their IP address and location and block senders seeing when an email has been opened. Safari will now allow users to prevent cross-site tracking and block IP tracking. You can read more about these features here.

Siri has also had a privacy upgrade. Thanks to the power of Apple’s neural network, the processing required for Siri voice commands can now be handled onboard. This is good for privacy, as there’s no need for internet connections and recording to pose a risk. It’s also great for speed, with Apple taking the time in the WWDC to show us how quickly Siri can complete commands. Spoiler: it’s quick.

Apple Wallet

The Apple Wallet will now support digital keys, such as work and hotel key cards. Identity cards can also be stored (though this is limited to participating US states initially).

William Lobley is a Content Writer and reviewer for WhatsTheBest, specialising in technology, gaming and outdoors. He also writes for Empire Online.

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