Apple WWDC 2021: Highlights on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, MacOS Monterey, WatchOS 8, and More

Apple kicked off its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday. The tech giant delivered a fresh drop of features to its software platform updates. 

The two-hour livestream unveiled major developments in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, WatchOS 8, and macOS Monterey. It also focused on the enhanced privacy and security features of iCloud+.

Here are Apple’s biggest reveals:

iOS 15

FaceTime got the most notable upgrades, including a grid view for multiple callers. 

The new Portrait Mode will also use machine learning to blur users’ backgrounds. The app’s spatial audio is equipped with the same technology to reduce background noise during calls.

The new SharePlay feature will let users listen to music or watch shows with other people on-screen.

Notifications have been redesigned in a way that’s easier to view. There’s a notification summary that collects alerts based on priority. 

Siri will be able to take voice commands offline – even through third-party accessories.

Live Text is also equipped with “on-device artificial intelligence” that can digitize text from photos. Users will be able to copy text like phone numbers, notes, etc. directly from screenshots.

The Wallet app has increased functionality, too. It can be used for scanning IDs, or as a key to get into hotel rooms or smart homes.

iPadOS 15

Users will soon be able to add widgets to the iPad’s home screen – a feature once exclusive to iPhones. The App Library will also be accessible on the dock.

A new Multitasking interface will let users easily switch into Split View or Slide Over modes. This also comes with new shortcuts for those who use external keyboards.

New apps will be available, including Translate for iPad. Swift Playgrounds is another addition – developers will be able to build their own apps and submit them to the App Store. 

MacOS Monterey

Universal Control will provide users with a multi-monitor workflow. With a single mouse or keyboard, they can move between a Mac and iPad side-by-side. This feature works for two Macs and iMacs as well.

Apple’s AirPlay will allow iOS devices to flash their screens to Mac displays. With this, users can use their Mac as a second speaker, too.

Safari also got a facelift, with a new Tab Groups section for arranging and managing tabs. 

WatchOS 8

With the new WatchOS 8, Apple Watch users will be able to send messages by writing the text with their fingers.

An updated version of the Breathe app will let users take guided breathing exercises. The new app Mindfulness will also flash meditative quotes called “Reflections”. 

iCloud+

Apple has added notable privacy features to iCloud+. 

Private Relay is among them. It works like a VPN for web traffic encryption. Hide My Email will enable users to use random email addresses during signups. This feature is built into Safari, Mail, and other related apps.

Homekit Secure Video will also integrate more security cameras into the cloud.

And to all existing iCloud subscribers, don’t worry – these features won’t charge extra fees.

Availability and Release

Developers already gained access to the beta 1 versions on Monday, while users can start testing them in July. The final versions will be available to the public this fall.

Apple will also allow app testing on a Mac using TestFlight. As for other Apple devices, users can use Xcode Cloud to test their apps.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Nero is an all-around wordsmith with a degree in Communication Arts— not the vicious emperor you might know in history books. He's an avid reader. A frisky writer. A tech enthusiast and occasional binge-watcher. He likes long walks on the beach. Enjoys deep thinking and shallow conversations. Hates ketchup. Panic! At The Disco.

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