Apple has revealed so many new interesting features during yesterday’s WWDC 2021, including MacOS Monterey, iPad OS 15 and iOS 15. We’ll break them bit by bit by starting with iOS 15, which was the biggest reveal yet
On iOS 15, the first thing Apple introduced is FaceTime. Now we already discussed many of its new features, including its availability for Android and Windows, so this one will be short and sweet.
The app will be more conference-based instead of personal, and Apple has introduced new features to make your call stand out as well as improve comfort and call quality. Apple has added features like portrait mode, Share Play, Grid View, spatial audio and more.
Grid View lets you view your calls on a Zoom-like interface, or as the name suggests, in grids. This allows you to see everyone on a call so as long they have video turned on, all at once.
Using Apple’s amazing camera software, they have managed to introduce Portrait Mode to FaceTime, in which the AI will determine the background and blur it so only you are in focus. A nifty, but gimmicky feature.
Spatial Audio is a feature that was first introduced in Apple Music, and now is coming to FaceTime when iOS 15 is released. For this iteration for FaceTime, there are two options: Voice Isolation and Wide Spectrum. The Voice Isolation feature lets the phone’s machine learning determine background noise, whether the wind, someone vacuuming or a little hardly, crowd noises, and then cancels out those noises so only the caller’s voice can be heard while the background noise is muted. In Wide Spectrum, where you can hear every bit of sound and symphonies, not just your voice.
FaceTime Links is, we gotta admit, an amazing new feature in FaceTime, but like many of Apple’s new updates, are late in the game, as apps like Google Hangouts and Duo already have this feature.
Anyway, this new feature lets you schedule your next call, share a link of your call to messages, messaging apps, via airplay, Whatsapp, etc. The calendar feature of FaceTime Links is where you can schedule your calls and let everyone you want to be involved in your call be notified for when the next conference starts. This part of WWDC is also where Apple introduced FaceTime to Android and Windows (finally). According to Apple, even on these platforms, FaceTime is still end-to-end encrypted, so you don’t have to worry about privacy and safety.
SharePlay is Apple’s new integration for a more enhanced and immersive experience for calls. Basically, it’s similar to Discord’s or Zoom’s integration that lets everyone in the call watch a movie, listen to music and even share their screens.
According to Apple, you can listen to music and let everyone in your call hear the music you’re playing by simply selecting and playing a song of your choice through Apple Music. Also, just like with many Discord Music bots, everyone involved in the call can add, skip, jump or pause the songs playing in the background.
Through SharePlay, you and everyone in the call can watch a video or movie all in-sync (so as long you have good internet connection that is). To activate it, simply press play on a video you’re trying to watch and now, everyone can watch the movie you’re playing. Apple also allowed integration so that you can screen-cast the movie/video into AppleTV, so you can watch it on the big screen, while others are watching the movie through their phone, or through their own Apple TVs.
As you can see through the images above, SharePlay also allows Picture-in-Picture (about time really Apple, it’s like a few years late, as usual). This feature allows you to let the video call stay in place while you can move on and select another app, all while in a video call. On the left is a feature called “screen sharing” which works in-sync onto MacBooks and iPads
Many more companies are interested in using SharePlay, and will soon feature it onto their apps, just like how it works on Android a few years ago. These apps include TikTok, Disney+ and ESPN+. Apple hopes that many more apps will use the features SharePlay has on its disposal.
Messages will also get a visual overhaul and chunks of new features on iOS 15. These include reactions, Shared With You, message pins and picture collages!
Messages now show you a group of images into a variety of creative collages. Users can tap on these collages that lets them see all the pictures into the collage one by one, or swipe through these interactive collages to see the images behind the first one in the stack.
Shared With You is a new feature that’s integrated into many of Apple’s apps, including messages and Apple Music. This feature lets you know what certain media was shared to you so you can go back to them later. For example, a friend sends you an article. Of course, you won’t be viewing that immediately, so, when you open the News app, there is a section called “Shared With You” that lets you know if someone shared an article with you from your messages. Shared With You will also let you know who shared the article with you originally. Once you tap on the shared article, you can tap on the user who originated it from, and continue the conversation from there.
As mentioned, Shared With You is also integrated into Apple Music. Here, it lets you know who shared a specific music to you, and just like with news, jump right back into the conversation by tapping their names on top of the screen. You can also see the “Shared With You” option on Photos.
Shared With You will also be available on Apple TV, Podcasts and Safari.
Apple also lets you pin urgent messages through the messages app. It’s surprising how it took them THIS LONG to think of this. And to be fair, even Facebook’s Messenger doesn’t have this feature yet. So way to go Apple.
Apple is also revamping how your notifications look. For example, the notification icons are now larger and easier to read. Apple is also setting a new doctrine called “focus” that lets users prioritise notifications based on their importance. In line with this, Apple is adding new personalisation features to the “Do Not Disturb” option.
Apple is also introducing the new “Notification Summary” that is essentially a collection of all your notifications throughout the day. Since some notifications can be dealt later; this new notification summary also makes your notifications less cluttered. Notification Summary also lets you decide on the period when the notifications are to be seen. Users can set this only for mornings, or evenings, or even throughout the entire day. It will summarise your notification based on the time set for it.
According to Apple, the notification summary uses machine learning to determine which apps you are using the most, and the ones you’re using the most is what it believes to be the top priority, and then arranges it from the highest to lowest priority. However, this feature only works for apps, and contacts will not appear in this summary so you won’t miss important or urgent messages.
Do Not Disturb/Focus
The main purpose of Do Not Disturb is to block notifications so none would come in. However, Apple has introduced new personalisation and priority options for Do Not Disturb called “Focus”. Users can choose from Work, Sleep, Personal or even customise their own prioritisation.
If you have Do Not Disturb enabled, people you message will be notified that they have turned it on. You can still send messages though, but they will not be notified immediately. Users can choose to notify them anyway, especially if the message is urgent. This will bypass Do Not Disturb restrictions and will notify the user regardless when DND is on or off.
Apple has introduced a new feature that’s integrated within DND called “Focus” that lets you choose from three options based on where you want to focus. These range from Personal, Work and Sleep options. Additionally, you can just opt for “Do Not Disturb” if you really don’t want anyone bothering you.
Focus uses machine learning that studies your recent and past activities and determines which apps it thinks you prioritise the most, and lets notifications pass through it. Users can add apps/contacts, remove apps/contacts from the list or allow none of it. This feature is essentially just Simple Android but on iOS.
In addition to selecting certain apps, users can dedicate a page on their homescreen that only shows which apps the user has personally selected. The example shown above is for the “Personal” level focus in which only entertainment and media apps are present. Also, iOS 15 will intelligently suggest on which apps you want to focus on, based on factors like location or time-of-day
The focus you selected will automatically be selected on many of Apple’s devices including Apple Watch and MacBooks, so as long your account is connected through those devices.
Live Text/Visual Look up
Live Text is essentially Google Lens for iOS, but it was introduced a little too late and with far fewer features. Need we say more? Live text understands seven more languages and through updates, probably more.
Visual Lookup again is like Google Lens but for images. Using the camera app, you can identify objects such as a breed of a dog, scenes, elements, etc. It will also display information taken from sites like Wikipedia.
Rich Results is an enhanced version of a search that is available for your contacts or through searching a specific term. Through Rich Results, you can have quick access to calls, messages, FaceTime, Apple Pay and even mail. In addition to Apple’s dedication to privacy, Apple Spotlight will also include information dedicated to the contact, including location (only if shared through the “Find My” app), their recently shared photos, recent conversations to you, calendar appointments, notes and files. Basically, it stalks the user and EVERYTHING that they do on their phone. Now that’s privacy to the next level.
In addition, Rich Results can find certain information about an actor, TV show, movies, musicians and other media. Kinda like the thing Google already has.
It’s been a while since Google Photos and Facebook released a feature called “Memories”. Now, Apple is introducing this feature into the Photos app.
One thing’s new is bringing Apple Music into Memories. This feature is called “Memory Mixes” and lets you select music based on the mood/filter of the memory. Apple wants to make the memories feature as interactive as possible.
Memories can be accessed by pressing the “For You” tab at the bottom of the Photos app. Right as the user taps it, you can immediately see your memories. When the user taps on these memories, you will hear a personalised song based on the mood or filter of the image. Users can change it through Apple Music by pressing the music icon.
When a user presses this icon, he/she will be redirected to Apple Music. Here, the app will give you a list of the top choices based on the filter used for the photo. Users can also search for specific music in case they don’t like the suggestions Apple Music gives them.
Apple Wallet is a safe and secure wallet/payment storage option developed by Apple and for iOS 15, it’s bringing in new features for convenience and better security. First off, you can store multiple cards through Apple Wallet, be it a credit card, Disney World Park Passes or even transit cards. Apple call this feature Express Mode.
Remember that newer iPhones have NFC built-in, so users can just tap on a scanner and that scanner will identify and scan the virtual card from your phone. No need to bring out or slash out an actual card this time. NFC is region dependent though and may not work worldwide.
Apple is also adding home, hotel and car key integration to Wallet. Car Key was first introduced during the Apple Spring event about a month ago and is continually being improved to bring ultra-wideband support. Some manufacturers like BMW already have worked with Apple to let their newer models work with car keys, making your physical car keys essentially virtual.
Apple is also making a solution to make your home keys virtual and make unlocking more secure. Well… until your phone gets lost or stolen, then it would be unsecure. In addition, the app also stores your important work IDs so you can just tap through your phone to enter your office.
Apple Wallet will also let you store certain high-ranking condominium and/or hotel keys virtually. It even lets you know what time you’re supposed to check-in at what date, before arriving to the condo or hotel itself. According to Apple, more properties would integrate with Apple Wallet, about 1000 properties coming this autumn. Apple Wallet also works for Apple Watches.
Also one more important note that Apple Wallet is bringing is Identity Cards to Apple Wallet. Now, users can scan their participating state, state ID or driver’s license and whatever information is present on the ID will be available in Apple Wallet once the scan is complete. Apple said that these sensitive info is safely and securely encrypted.
Apple has been working with the TSA so that airports in the US will be one of the first to take advantage of digital ID. You can present your digital ID’s information in some airports in the US once they have been scanned and stored in Apple Wallet. This can easily be done with just a single tap.
In iOS 15, the Weather app has been redesigned to be more straightforward and easier to understand, and features new animations, new graphics and backgrounds that change depending on the current weather in your area right now. According to Apple, there are about a thousand variations of these background animations that accurately respond to cloud and sun positioning, snow and precipitation
The weather details are now easier to understand and is better organised to be simpler and more straightforward for users to understand certain conditions like visibility, UV index, temperature and more.
One of the biggest changes that has arrived on the weather app is the inclusion of a highly accurate, high resolution map with details including heat index, animated precipitation and air quality. That’s mostly about the updates for the Weather app and it’s actually an exciting one. These maps are also full-screen, if we ever forget that.
The last app presented during the WorldWide Developers’ Conference is Apple Maps, which brings huge updates including a 3D representation of the drivers’ route, transit stops and destinations, more detailed locations and augmented reality features.
Apple has launched the new version of Maps first in the US, UK, Ireland and Canada, and starting June 7th, also in Spain and Portugal, and later during the release of iOS 15 this autumn, also in Italy and Australia.
Some landmarks in Maps will be more detailed once iOS 15 hits. Apple has also added new objects including elevation, new road colours and labels and custom-designed landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge. In addition, this new detailed Maps also has night mode with a moonlit glow, so the maps will still be bright even during the night.
Also for drivers, when routing for directions, the map will include a detailed road and landmarks, including intersections, crosswalks, bike lanes and turns to help them understand better what’s ahead or behind them through that route. Also, when driving on a freeway, there will be overlapping intersections. Apple Maps will recognise this and will temporarily overlap and fade once it hits an intersection.
For commuters, Apple Maps will now include detailed stations and bus stops, and how long it takes to get there as well as distance. Google Maps already has this, and once again Apple is late to the game for it. Truly, Apple users are always a year or two behind in terms of technology. In addition to the train stations and bus stops, users can pin their desired stations/stops and it will appear first at the top. Users can also keep track of their stations through their Apple Watch so there is no need to bring out your phone every time.
Finally, Maps will notify you where’s your next stops, as well as how many stops it will take before you reach your desired destination. Also, if you are unsure what route to go to next if you somehow dropped on the wrong stop, then you can use your phone to scan nearby buildings and Maps will determine which route to take next. This new detailed Apple Maps will be available in places like London, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area and Washington DC, and more to come once new updates arrive.
So that’s basically all of it for iOS 15 when it was announced during WWDC. You can watch Apple’s livestream that has ended through this link. The new livestream also includes announcements for Airpods, iPad OS, Health and more.