2021 WWDC Recap: Everything You Need To Know!

At 2021 WWDC, Apple unveiled updates and features across the board. Whether you’re an iPad or Mac user, or you only use an Apple watch, there’s something new for you to look forward to.

Apple’s updates include macOS Monterey, iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, as well as features such as Universal Control. So let’s start digging through all this exciting news and learn what’s next.

iOS 15 

The highly anticipated iOS 15, which was the headliner of the conference, is going to bring a number of improvements, specifically to FaceTime and Notifications, and new features like Focus. However, there are also several quality-of-life updates that will improve user experience across the board.

FaceTime is receiving a significant boost thanks to features like voice isolation, spatial audio, and the grid view. You’ll also be able to schedule FaceTime calls with people who are using an Android device or their Windows 10 PC.

With the improvement to the quality of sound and voice recordings, as well as increased accessibility, what more could we ask for? Well, there’s more!

2021 WWDC iOS15 update reveal
(Image Credit: Apple)

Apple is implementing the Portrait Mode feature to FaceTime calls so that you can blur your background automatically. This is a significant update especially in this day and age when working from home is being normalized.

If your room is a bit messy and you have an important video call, you can just place yourself in focus and nobody will notice.

Another important feature brought to you by iOS 15 is SharePlay.

2021 WWDC iPhone shareplay new update
(Image Credit: Apple)

You’ll be able to share Apple Music, TV shows, or even your screen view with your friends through FaceTime. This feature will work on all major platforms, including the Mac and iPad.

It can also be used with Apple TV so that you can enjoy your favorite show and a large screen while still connected through FaceTime. Major streaming services like Disney+, Paramount+, Hulu, and HBO Max are integrating SharePlay into their platforms.

In addition, Apple is implementing Focus mode to help you become more productive and avoid distractions.

What the new Focus feature looks like and how you can customize it
(Image Credit: Apple)

You can use this feature to block various types of notifications and apps, depending on what you need to focus on. Focus comes with customizable options and tools that will change your status automatically between certain time windows and you can even create special Home Screen pages.

The feature is quite cleverly designed and it will even notify those who are messaging you that you’re currently busy.

Next to the aforementioned features, iOS 15 comes with many more improvements that will take some time to explore. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Live Text is added to enable the user to capture text in photos.
  • The Weather app is receiving a nice high-resolution update.
  • Apple Wallet will store your driver’s license. Additionally, your digital ID will be accepted by TSA, so this isn’t just a neat little feature.
  • Apple Maps is being improved to be far more detailed. A night-time mode is included.

There’s much more to iOS 15 that meets the eye and what we’ve just explored is the tip of the iceberg. All in all, this is a significant upgrade that will improve the user experience.

More Privacy Updates

Apple continues to fight for privacy and they’re adding more features and updates. One of the more notable ones is Mail Privacy Protection. This feature will hide your IP address and any information about your location. Additionally, apps will no longer be apple to detect whether the user opened a message or not.

Apple also added application privacy reports to show the user how various apps collect or use your information. This transparency update will enable us to see how an app is accessing our camera, mic, location information, and other data regarding our activities.

Finally, if you’re using iCloud+ you’ll be able to use the iCloud Private Relay system to prevent anyone from keeping track of what websites you’re visiting. Two proxy servers are used for this service, so even your Internet service provider will fail to see your online activity.

iPadOS 15 

iPad in hand
(Image Credit: Apple)

The iPadOS 15 includes most of the features and themes we see in iOS 15. However, there are some additional changes that Apple highlighted. One of them is the iPad’s app library, which is going to be built into the dock.

You’ll be able to keep everything organized much easier. Additionally, a brand new multitasking menu gives you more control over the display, allowing you to split the view, slide over, or view the app in full-screen mode.

Another useful feature is Quick Note, which is a tool that lets you scribble a few notes on the go. All you need to do is use the Apple Pencil to swipe from the corner of the display and start taking notes.

macOS Monterey 

Monterey new features with the newest macOS update
(Image Credit: Apple)

The new macOS is an exciting announcement, however, as many of us have expected, it doesn’t bring many new features to the table. After all, Big Sur was a serious operating system revamp, so it makes sense for Monterey to focus more on improvements, small updates, and user-friendly features.

One of the most interesting features is Universal Control. From now on, you’ll be able to use the same input devices across all of your Apple devices. Your mouse and keyboard can be configured and used seamlessly with the MacBook Pro as well as an iPad at the same time.

In addition, users can cast their iPad onto an Apple computer using AirPlay. The purpose of this feature is similar to Universal Control. It improves accessibility by allowing users to work on multiple devices without wasting precious time-fighting hardware or software limitations.

watchOS 8 

Apple watch
(Image Credit: Apple)

The new and improved Apple watchOS 8 comes with several tracking features that measure your heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood oxygen levels. Additionally, it comes with an improved Workout application that includes more types of workouts, such as Pilates and Tai Chi.

In addition to health features, Apple is improving usability with other smart devices. WatchOS 8 will automatically suggest a number of options when a device is activated. For example, when someone rings your smart doorbell, you’ll receive a notification with the option to unlock the door.

You’ll also be able to activate your security cameras, have a full-screen view, and use two-way audio.

Last but not least, watchOS 8 brings Assistive Touch which helps the user control the watch with just one arm.

WatchOS 8 is a significant boost to user experience and overall usefulness of the Apple watch.

Other Features 

Apple unveiled more features during the first day of 2021 WWDC than we expected. While we don’t know quite all the details just yet, we can summarize the most important interesting updates worth keeping an eye on once everything hits the market:

  • The Health app enables users to share information about their health with others (family, caregiver). Additionally, a new metric called Walking Steadiness is added to help people assess the risk of falling.
  • Siri becomes available for third-party products. All smart home device manufacturers will be able to integrate Siri into their devices. An option called “Hey Siri†can be enabled on compatible devices and your requests will be processed through the HomePod. This includes control over alarms, timers, and the intercom.
  • Siri introduces the Announce Notifications feature for AirPods. This function will give you the ability to share what’s on your screen through voice commands.
  • The Find My feature is getting an update that improves its functionality. From now on, you will be able to find a device that’s turned off or removed from the network. Additionally, you’ll be able to locate family members and friends when they’re streaming live (if they give you access). Last but not least, the Find My network will also support the AirPods Pro and Max.
  • The Shared with You feature will now work with music, movies, articles, photos, and anything that others share with you through Messages. You’ll be able to quickly gain access to this information because it’s automatically brought to the surface in the corresponding apps (e.g. shows in the Apple TV app, articles in Apple News, and images in Photos)
  • Translate will now include a Live Translate option that allows you to translate any conversation across multiple languages.
  • A new and improved iPhone setup process is introduced to help new and existing users get started with a new iPhone. If you’re already an iPhone user who’s looking to buy a new iPhone, you’ll be able to temporarily back up all of your data to the iCloud even without a subscription. Then you’ll simply transfer the data to the new iPhone. As for those who are getting their first iPhone, the setup experience was improved to make it more user-friendly.
  • Safari gets a new design. Apple is changing the look of tabs and tab groups on the Mac. On iOS, you will find the tab bar at the bottom of the screen where you can reach it with your thumb more easily. Additionally, both iOS and iPadOS are getting Web extensions.
  • Siri will work offline. You will no longer need an internet connection for Siri to process your requests. Apple is adding a number of requests for offline mode.

Final Thoughts

While iOS takes the spotlight at 2021 WWDC, there are many features and updates to look forward to. If you use any Apple device, you’ll have something to look forward to. Whether it’s an update that improves user experience or a brand new feature that adds new functionality, Apple products and services are becoming more and more powerful, for both consumers and developers.

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