Apple showcases iOS 15, macOS Monterey, and opens up FaceTime to Android and Windows at virtual WWDC
Updated: Jun 9, 2021
Apple unveiled the latest versions of iOS, macOS, iPadOS, watchOS and more during the company’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference, conducted virtually as was last year’s festivities due to the pandemic.
This time around, Apple announced the name for the 18th major version of the Mac operating system, and following its recent trend of choosing monikers after California locales, settled on macOS Monterey. Apple showcased a number of features aimed at developers, and by proxy, end users.
*Better multitasking and a new QuickNotes feature for the iPad.
*A Live Text feature (reminiscent of Google Lens) that lets you copy and paste text from inside a photo.
*The ability to pick a family member or someone else close to you as a "legacy contact" who can get into your iCloud account (with certain limitations) in the event that you die.
For security purposes, the person you choose must present a valid copy of your death certificate when you pass.
Here are five other upcoming developments or features that got my attention.
Sharing experiences on FaceTime: Up to now, Apple’s video calling FaceTime feature has been limited to Apple’s own iPhones, Macs, and iPads. But the company announced that as part of iOS 15, people on Android and Windows will be able to join a Group FaceTime chat for the first time, provided those folks use the latest version of the Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge browsers and adhere to a video encoding standard techies refer to as H.264. Someone with an Apple device would have to initiate the conversation and send a link to the non-Apple participants.
This is a pretty big deal for people who'd like to "see" and engage with family members, friends, and colleagues from afar over FaceTime who haven’t embraced the Apple ecosystem. And yes I suppose I'm discounting the fact that you can already make such video-based Apple-Android/Windows connections via Skype, Zoom and other apps.
Moreover, through an aptly named SharePlay feature, people on a FaceTime call can now share their screens with others, or listen together to tunes on Apple Music. They can also watch TV shows, movies, or other content from a list of third-party content providers that includes Disney+, ESPN+, HBO Max, NBA, Hulu, MasterClass, Paramount+, Pluto TV, TikTok, and Twitch. According to Apple, any user can press pause, play, or jump ahead, and all the content is supposedly kept in sync on any individual’s device.
But SharePlay only works with Apple’s own devices, so those joining a FaceTime call via Windows or Android won’t get the complete experience.
Driver’s license on the iPhone: Coming later this year, you will be able to securely add your driver’s license to the Apple Wallet app, provided your state gives its approval. With the phone also starting to replace your actual keys in some instances, you'll have one less reason to carry a physical wallet.
According to Apple, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is also looking to add digital identity cards to Apple Wallet as a way to authenticate you at airport checkpoints. Apple didn’t say anything about storing Covid-19 vaccination cards in the Wallet app.
Better focus: You've long been able to turn on a Do Not Disturb feature to curb notifications and cut down on distractions on an iPhone. As part of iOS 15, Apple is further refining the way you might be otherwise tempted by the flood of information on the phone screen clamoring for your attention. This new Focus feature will let you set preferences and better filter notifications to ideally keep you in the moment, and avoid those other temptations. For example, you can create custom Home pages where the only visible apps and widgets are work-related: Mail, Calendar and Slack, say. You might also choose to only receive notifications at designated times by co-workers.
By contrast, if you’d rather focus on your personal life after hours, you might arrange to only receive messages from friends and family or set a Home screen displaying only fun, entertainment, or calming apps and widgets.
Under either scenario, you'll still be able to access any of your apps through the App Library.
You can also signal to the outside world inside the Message app, that you are blocking incoming notifications, though no matter what your status shows, you can still be reached if something is truly urgent.
Apple can suggest apps and widgets to focus on based on your location or time of day.
You can summon these focus controls in Control Center, where you still have Do Not Disturb (which silences all notifications) as an option, or a Sleep option which enables a series of bedtime wind down features.
The Focus settings are synced up across all your Apple devices.
For that matter, you can view a Notifications Summary to examine all your notifications on your time (morning or evening) and not necessarily when they come in.
Universal Control: You can use a single keyboard and trackpad/mouse on a Mac running Monterey and share the pointing devices on the computer to control what’s on a nearby iPad. You can move the cursor back and forth between the two devices, or even on a third Apple computer. It's also possible to drag and drop files between devices.
You might draw a sketch on the iPad with Apple Pencil and pass the drawing to an app on the Mac. Apple says this new Universal Control feature doesn’t require any setup either. If it works as seamlessly as it was demo'd by Apple exec Craig Federighi during WWDC, I can see it as a really useful tool for creators.
Walking Steadiness: Apple has gone big into healthcare in recent years. It is now adding a sharing tab to the Health app on the iPhone making it easier to share health and wellness data with loved ones or caregivers. With permission, they in turn can share with you, making it simpler to keep a watchful eye on an aging parent or your kids.
You will also be able to receive alerts around any concerning changes to your health data. Apple is analyzing trends for 20 types of health data, from sleep to cardio fitness.
Apple also announced a Walking Steadiness feature for the iPhone that analyzes the likelihood that you’ll experience a fall over the next 12-months. Using motion sensors on the iPhone, Apple taps into a custom algorithm that factors in your balance, stability and coordination, based on a recent Apple Heart and Movement Study with more than 100,000 participants of all ages. If the risk of a fall is deemed substantial, Apple can show you videos featuring Apple Fitness + trainers of exercises that promise to lessen the chance you'll take a spill.
You do not have to subscribe to Apple Fitness + to watch such videos. For that matter, it is worth noting that Apple will analyze your gait through the iPhone and not the Apple Watch that is required to take advantage of the Apple Fitness + subscription service.
Photos courtesy of Apple.