Apple WWDC 2021; Announcing iOS 15 (Part 1)
Updated: Jun 11
The main themes of the event were staying connected, finding focus, using intelligence, and exploring the world
The annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference occurred on the 7th June, introducing the new iOS 15 and a range of new features and updates for iPad, Apple watch, Mac, and much more. Since the pandemic is still happening, this year’s conference was completely virtual and was available to watch on apple.com, YouTube and others, also making the conference available for on demand playback once it had concluded. Despite its name, the keynote focuses largely on consumers, but there were some mentions of upcoming releases for developers, too. Sadly, for consumers there were no hardware releases which people were expecting from this year’s event.
The main themes of the event were staying connected, finding focus, using intelligence, and exploring the world, all of which are exhibited in the new updates and features that will go with the narrative of the world coming out of lockdown and slowly getting back to normality. The new iOS 15 update will include massive improvements to FaceTime, which will make calls have a more lifelike feel with upgrades such as spatial audio, allowing users to feel like they’re in the same room whilst on a video call. Machine learning will allow for voice isolation, blocking out background noise so others in your call can hear you perfectly. A new grid view ensures users know who is speaking at which time and see others’ reactions, whilst portrait mode will blur the background and just focuses on you. There will be easily accessible FaceTime links so you can plan a call and send it over WhatsApp, E-mail, iMessage, and will also be available for Android users on the browser.
SharePlay is a set of new features that allows users to share what they are listening to, movies that they are watching (and can also be played on Apple TV whilst people on the call remain in sync). The SharePlay API allows other apps to be used in conjunction with FaceTime, to name a few: Disney+, Twitch, TikTok and Hulu. As part of the new SharePlay feature, iMessage users will be able to talk to each other while using it. Another iMessage update is a handy notification sent to people trying to chat with you while your phone is on Do Not Disturb and will show itself as a status on your iMessage. When someone shares a link with you in Messages, it will show in Apple News so you can jump back to it easily, also playlists will appear in Apple Music. Photo collections will automatically add shared images to your Photos library, which will sort them into your own photos with the same places, dates or times.
Many people get side-tracked with different notifications, catching up with friends or generally going off topic when on their phone, with new focus features users can set their phone to allow work, personal or other types of notifications to be displayed, including certain messages or calls from people when you need to narrow your focus on one thing. You will also be able to set your home screen to only see apps to do with work, or if you don’t want to focus on work, hide those instead. The iOS will be able to use your location or time of day to suggest a focus for users, and this will automatically sync across devices. Notifications will have a new look, having larger icons to make it easier to find what you’re looking for, and will enable you to get certain summaries delivered in groups at specified times set by you and will be ordered by their priority.
There are new intelligence features being rolled out including an easier way to note down text without screenshotting and writing it out, where you are able to use the Camera app to capture text from the camera feed and paste it into notes, messages or mail apps. This can also use photos and will be able to detect phone numbers whereupon users will be able to tap on the number to save/call/message the number in the photo. It will currently support 7 languages across Mac, iPhone and iPad and will eventually support many more. Another cool feature will allow users to search for specific photos in Spotlight, such as searching certain elements, scenes, locations and even by text.
Memories are important to people, and photos help to bring them to life, but by integrating the photo memories with Apple Music this will set a whole new scene for scrolling down memory lane. Slideshows and customised music mixes or music recommendations based on listening history, and paces of which pictures are shown will create a truly personal and memorable time.
There are already many banks and flight tickets that are available in your pocket on your iPhone, and now Apple Wallet with iOS 15 is bringing even more accessibility and ease of use by allowing work badges that use electronic scanning, home keys that work in conjunction with certain devices and even hotel keys, with the worldwide hotel chain Hyatt already planning on having this available for customers to use by the fall. Another pretty revolutionary update is in supported U.S states, users will be able to scan their ID for it to be available in their apple wallet, working with TSA for flights, and being secure and encrypted. Not much need for a physical wallet for very long!
As you may be able to tell, not many apps have been left alone by the update, the Weather and Maps applications have also had a bit of tweaking. On the weather app, it will showcase better graphics to enable users to understand the conditions easier such as the UV, barometric pressure and wind speeds and directions, along with a new design and layouts that change based on weather conditions. It will feature full-screen high resolution maps, and animated backgrounds to reflect the position of the sun and clouds, and notifications will highlight when snow or rain begins and ends. The Maps app will have a new 3D view of cities with enhanced details, and will show pedestrian crosswalks, buildings and bike lanes. In the transit mode, you will be able to get notifications when you need to exit the train or bus, AR walking directions, and the ability to scan the area around you to get an accurate location of where you are, although some of these features will only be available in select cities.
There are many small differences also being made along with some of these intriguing new features, Safari which is currently the world’s fastest browser, being used by almost all Apple product consumers, is being redesigned. Tabs will be able to be grouped to allow you to keep things in a more organised manner, find where things are more speedily, and not have thousands of tabs open to scroll through. iOS 15 is a reasonable update, bringing a lot to the table and focusing on how things are rapidly changing with modern technology. It is currently available to developers in beta testing and will be released to the public in beta in July, with the full update rolling out to compatible devices in fall of this year.
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