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iOS 15, macOS Monterey, watchOS 8, iPadOS 15 and More: Everything Announced at WWDC 2021

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Apple took to the stage at WWDC 2021 to announce iOS 15, the new macOS Monterey, watchOS 8, iPadOS 15, new stuff for Home and more. The Worldwide Developer Conference, as the name suggests, is always all about software, even though Apple has used it to showcase some hardware in the past. This year, no hardware featured on stage, although Apple has pretty much delivered on all the fronts with information that was already rumoured to launch. This includes a bunch of new stuff for iPhones, better multitasking on iPads, more refinements to macOS, new fitness and well-being features for the Apple Watch, and so on. With this in sight, here’s looking at the biggest announcements Apple has made at WWDC 2021.

iOS 15: FaceTime, SharePlay, Live Text, notifications and more

iOS is naturally the most popular of all of Apple’s software. With iOS 15, the list of eligible new features include FaceTime spatial audio, voice isolation, portrait mode blurs for FaceTime users, meeting links for scheduled calls, and SharePlay. The latter allows users to share music and video playlists with friends over a video call, and Apple is working on it with Disney+, HBO Max and others. The new iMessages gets an in-app browser, shared content with chat bookmarks and more.

iOS 15 gets a Slack-like ‘notify anyway’ feature, grouped message notifications, a new Focus Mode and Live Text for image-text conversion, among others.

Newly grouped notifications are a big deal in iOS 15, too – there is a new notifications summary that can help gauge between all the important and unimportant stuff. There’s also a Slack-like notify anyway feature, classification of private messages, and new Focus Mode controls as well. There is also Live Text, which uses Apple’s neural engine to offer image to text conversion for photos, screenshots and more. Apple further spoke of Photos Memories, which integrates intelligent music recommendations based on the memories.

Spotlight search is richer now, too, including better results for both offline and online queries. Finally, iOS 15 also has a Wallet app with support for UWB keys to BMW cars, hotel rooms and smart locks that you may buy in future for your home. It further has a new Weather app that apparently looks a bit better, and a new Maps app that is pretty much irrelevant for us in India.

macOS Monterey: New Safari, Shared With You, Universal Control and more

macOS Monterey continues the trend of Apple naming its Mac operating systems behind mountain ranges and national parks in USA. In terms of changes, Monterey gets a new Safari web browser, which has a new, seamless tab design integrated in it. There is a new automation feature labelled Shortcuts, which can help users automate a set of most used tasks from the OS. Apple has also attempted to make life easier with Quick Note, which gets a highly layered feature approach.

macOS Monterey brings Universal Control, which allows users to operate an iPad through a Mac’s keyboard and mouse.

macOS also gets the Focus mode that integrates across devices. The new FaceTime and SharePlay, along with the Shared With You section, also come to Macs, as does Universal Control. The latter is great for those using both Macs and iPads for work, and allows users to operate an iPad through a Mac’s keyboard and mouse. macOS Monterey also gets AirPlay, Live Text and the privacy features that come with iCloud+.

iPadOS 15: Multitasking, widgets, Quick Note and more

iPadOS 15 has yet again kept the focus on multitasking with Apple’s tablets. This begins with new keyboard shortcuts and a new docking bar design to ease multitasking on iPads. There is now an even easier way to enable multitasking, and the iPadOS Home Screen is much more organised thanks to widgets that can be placed within home apps. Apps can be grouped together as per genres, and accessed from app galleries.

Other features include an amped-up new Safari browser with web extensions on iPad, FaceTime, SharePlay and Quick Note on iPadOS 15, Live Text and new Spotlight search, and finally, better performance of the Translate app for smoother language translations.

watchOS 8: UWB keys, Respiratory rates, HomeKit and more

watchOS 8 will let users integrate its new Wallet features to get the UWB keys for their cars, checked in hotel rooms and home into the Wallet app on the Apple Watch. There’s also a new Home app that gives easier smart home control directly from the Watch, and on the fitness front, there are new Tai Chi and Pilates workouts added to the wearable. The ‘Breathe’ app is now called ‘Mindfulness’ to offer users an “enhanced breathing experience”, according to Apple.

There’s also a new mode tracking sleeping respiratory rates as a new health signifier. On the cosmetic front, Watch now gets a Portraits watch face, and on the Messages front, users can now send more intuitive scribbles and GIF responses. Other updates include multiple timers, a redesigned Music app, more Fitness+ content, and more.

Other ancillary announcements included Siri coming to third party smart home devices later this year, HomePod mini capable of being external speakers for Apple TV 4K devices, and new Siri recommendation capabilities for all family members in Apple TV. On the privacy end of things, Apple introduced Mail Privacy Protection, App Privacy Report, more on-device processing of Siri voice queries, iCloud ‘Private Relay’ VPN service, email and browser IP masking, secure paste of text data, and more.

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