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WWDC 2021: 10 biggest takeaways and what to expect next

Apple announced the biggest software updates at the WWDC 2021 last night, with nifty upgrades to your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV and more.

If you’re with us last night at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2021), you’d probably heard of the lowdown on all the major software updates that will be introduced to Apple devices in the next few months. This covers all of your essential Apple toys including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and AirPods.

The keynote highlights new insights into the technologies and tools that will greatly enhance the features and user experience of all of your favourite Apple products. While there’s no new hardware announced at the WWDC, you can at least expect something exciting from Apple in the coming weeks — perhaps something that rhymes with pro?

Some new functions that will come with the upcoming iOS 15 update.

For iPhone users, the upcoming software update, iOS 15, will come with big improvements to FaceTime, updates to notifications, and more. FaceTime will now sound better, and enhanced with the new ‘SharePlay’ feature that allows user to share media with people on FaceTime virtually. Expect a new look for notifications, a redesigned weather app, updates to Memories in Photos, and so much more. 

If you missed out on the announcement last night, we’ve put together all you need to know about this year’s WWDC 2021.

iOS 15 helps you to ‘Focus’

With mindfulness being the buzzword during the pandemic, Apple is putting your work life balance first. One of our favourite new features is ‘Focus’, which is relatively similar to ‘Do Not Disturb’ but can be customised for different parts of your day. It allows you to allocate quality time for the things that matter in your daily routine. The feature let you pick what you want to have access to during working hours, while sleeping or having your personal ‘me time’, or when you’re focusing on something essential like meditating or working out.

Focus is an upgrade ‘No Not Disturb’ function on iOS 15.

FaceTime will sound and look better, with music sharing capabilities

Apple is enhancing the quality of the FaceTime experience with the new iOS 15. Video calls on iPhone will have spatial audio and Portrait Mode — you and the people in your calls will sound and look better. With the update, you can also share video and music content into FaceTime through Apple’s new ‘SharePlay’ feature that will let you watch movies or listen to music with others virtually in the same video call. Apple will also be introducing FaceTime Links, which lets Android and Windows users to join FaceTime calls as well.

You can now copy/paste texts from photos

With the updates, you will enjoy a few feature called ‘Live Text’ in your iPhone. Using AI or what Apple would term as ‘on-device intelligence’, the new ‘Live Text’ will digitise text in the photos, which will allow you to copy and paste text from an image, or even call a phone number that’s in a photo. This would definitely be time-saving especially for those who need a fast way to transcribe text from from images.

Cool improvements to AirPods Pro

A new improvement in the AirPods Pro is the ‘Conversation Boost’, built to help people with mild hearing problems hear better when having their AirPods Pro on. It isolates the voice of the person in the call, and with a slider, adjusts the amount of ambient noise. AirPods Pro will also have the ability to read out your notifications aloud. The feature, aptly named ‘Announce Notifications’ will work with any notifications, and even content from your Notes. Apple is also making it easier to find your ‘missing’ AirPods with the ‘Find My’ network.

Apple WWDC 2021
AirPods Pro will get a slew of cool updates.

The iPad gets more multitasking features

The iPad will also be getting a whole bunch of new features focusing on productivity and multitasking capabilities. Our favourite feature so far would be the ‘Quick Note’ that allows you to quickly open the Notes app from any screen by simply swiping up from the bottom right of the screen using the Apple Pencil. If you’ve been using the iPad’s Split View to share two apps in one screen, the new update will make it easier for you to utilise this feature — simply drag and drop an app on top of another, and voila!

WWDC 2021
The new update will make it easier for you to utilise the multitasking Split View feature on your iPad.

Siri will now work without an internet connection

Thanks to the on-device speech recognition, Apple’s Siri will finally be able to function even without an internet connection. Apple will let Siri process voice requests on device, and the audio will not be sent over the web. While we foresee some limitations to this new feature, Apple assures that Siri will be able to accept many requests while offline. Oh, did we mention that Apple will now let third-party accessory manufacturers add Siri to their devices too?

You can see family member’s health data in one screen

One of the latest health-focused features is the ability to share health data with your families and healthcare providers. This is essential especially when you’re miles away from family, and not being able to visit them during the pandemic.

Keep track with the health date of your loved ones, especially when you’re away from each other.

Apple Watch gets respiratory tracking on top of new health features

The new watchOS 8 will come with exciting new features, including a new Mindfulness app, new watch faces, and the revolutionary respiratory rate tracking. This feature is designed to improve the Apple’s sleep-tracking app — ‘Sleep’ — which will help measure your breathing algorithm to provide a clearer picture of your sleep quality.

The new watchOS 8 will come with a respiratory rate tracking feature among many other things.

The next macOS is called Monterey

Along with the announcement of macOS Monterey comes a bevy of cool new features including the ‘Universal Control’. For Apple purists, it lets you combine your iMac, MacBook and iPad into one entity — turning it into a seamless multi-screen system. With this feature, you can move your cursor from one screen to another while effectively using the same mouse-and-keyboard combo with all your devices. Simply drag and drop files between each of your devices, without having to use AirDrop or other media-sharing apps.

Universal Control lets you combine your iMac, MacBook and iPad into one entity — turning it into a seamless multi-screen system

Safari is also getting an upgrade with macOS Monterey. A new ‘Tab Groups’ feature will allow you to combine multiple related tabs together to keep your browser more organised. And if you’re using Safari on an iPhone, take advantage of the ‘Tab Groups’ function on the bottom of your screen.

More valid reasons to pay for iCloud

Last night, Apple teases with the iCloud+, which is fundamentally a new privacy-focused tier of iCloud, Apple’s cloud-based storage system. If you’ve been using iCloud merely for storage space, here are three new features that will convince you that the iCloud an essential investment in the long run.

First, there’s a ‘Hide My Email’ feature that creates a random email for you when you sign up for services — keeping your information anonymous to those services. There’s also the ‘Private Relay’ feature that encrypts the traffic coming and going from your device — acting like a VPN so that your activity will not be tracked. However, this functions only when you’re using Safari. Thirdly, there’s the ‘HomeKit Secure Video’ feature that allows unlimited amount of HomeKit cameras without eating up your iCloud storage.

Apple also announced new privacy-focused features to Mail and Safari. Apple Mail will block tracking pixels with Mail Privacy Protection and Safari will hide IP addresses. Adding on to this, Apple is also introducing a new section called ‘App Privacy Report’ in setting.

(Good news, the iCloud+ will be available as a free upgrade to all existing iCloud subscribers.)

While there’s no official date yet on the new software updates and features, we are sure that the latest versions of the iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS will trickle in some time in the next few months. Stay tuned.

(All images: Apple)

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