Apple is virtually hosting its annual global developer conference for the second year in a row. I logged in from home for the opening address on Monday, where company executives presented a slew of new updates for Apple devices scheduled for this fall via iOS 15, iPadOS 15, WatchOS 8, and macOS. Monterey.
The most exciting announcements are aimed directly at improving our experiences at home, where much of our work and play will continue even after the pandemic. FaceTime will get Zoom-like talents, as well as the ability to share videos and music with other video chat participants. And there are more iOS and watch features designed to increase focus and reduce stress.
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The event is where Apple has historically expanded its walled garden, heralding capabilities that will keep customers in its tightly locked-in hardware-software ecosystem. Indeed, to get the most out of the latest Mac features, you will need an iPad, an iPhone, and maybe even a second Mac. However, the company countered that narrative with a few more announcements: FaceTime now works in web browsers, so you can also start a video chat with people on Windows and Android devices. And Siri can be spoken through HomeKit devices from other manufacturers (although you still have to own a HomePod).
In any case, the event is a reminder that Apple’s garden can be quite pretty. Many changes, available through a free software update in the fall, are expected to add functionality to aging devices, including the six-year-old iPhone 6S. Some, of course, are reserved for only the latest Apple products. Here is an overview of the most interesting announcements.
You will soon be able to apply a blurry background to your FaceTime video.
Chat and productivity
FaceTime, Apple’s video chat app, gets features already popular with competitors: blurry backgrounds, grid view for group calls, background noise reduction, screen sharing, and meeting links. The new feature is available on iOS and Mac devices. And, for the first time, Android and Windows users can join a FaceTime call through a Chrome or Edge web browser.
When there are multiple people on the screen, the sound will appear to come from the direction of the person speaking on the screen. This feature, along with the blurry background of Portrait mode, is only available on iOS devices with A12 Bionic or newer chips, and 2018 or newer Macs.
In addition to sharing what’s on your screen in FaceTime, you can also watch a video or listen to audio together. For now, supported apps include Disney +, TikTok, and Hulu. Lack in particular: Netflix.
Content shared in Messages will now display in relevant apps. For example, if someone sends you photos by text message, the images will be grouped together in a new “Shared with you” tab in your Photos app. But the images that the app detects as memes or screenshots will be omitted.
On iPad, you can now quickly preview emails in split view and use the context menu to switch views.
On the iPad, you can still manage two apps at the same time using Split View and Slide Over (as well as the full-screen single-app app). But instead of having to remember how to achieve it, a new context menu will allow you to quickly switch between configurations. And a lower “shelf” lets you move between different windows in supported apps like Safari and Pages.
For those who have both an iPad and a Mac, you can use your Mac’s mouse, trackpad, and keyboard to control what’s on your iPad, and even drag and drop files between them.
Universal Control lets you use a Mac’s trackpad and keyboard to control an iPad screen, and even drag and drop files between the two devices. CREDIT: Apple
Safari has a new feature that can convert you from Chrome or another browser: Tab Groups, easily accessible from Safari on any of your devices, allow you to store groups of websites related.
The feature that improves productivity the most may be to extend your Mac’s battery life. That’s right, the “low power mode,” found in iPhones, will be available in MacOS Monterey.
Concentration and mindfulness
The Away message is back, in the Messages app. When you turn on Do Not Disturb, Messages contacts will be able to see that you’ve gone dark in their in-app conversations with you.
Intended to limit distractions, the new focus modes allow notifications from a specified set of apps and people.
Notifications are getting smarter. You will be able to configure different focus modes, such as “Personal” or “Work”, which allow notifications from specific sets of apps and people for a custom duration (or even a location). When you activate a focus mode on one device, it will also apply to all your other compatible Apple devices. In theory, it’s designed to limit distractions, but it will likely take some tinkering to ensure that urgent VIP calls still go through.
If you want to be less cluttered with notifications, you can set all non-urgent pop-ups to be grouped into a daily delivery.
Apple’s hardware, software and services work so seamlessly that it’s often called a “walled garden.” The idea is at the heart of the recent antitrust investigation and the Epic v Apple case. Joanna Stern of the WSJ went to a real walled garden to explain everything. Photo illustration: Adele Morgan / The Wall Street Journal
AirPod Pro improvements
My favorite personal ad today? Find My AirPods is finally useful, as long as you have Apple’s most expensive buds. If you have AirPods Pro or Max, you will soon be able to ping your earbuds, even if they are closed in their case. (Previously this only worked if the buds were out of their case.) A new separation alert will also send you a notification if you leave the ‘pods behind in an unfamiliar location.
Conversation Boost is a feature designed for people with mild hearing loss. It focuses the audio from the AirPods on the person speaking in front of you and has controls to further reduce ambient noise.
Headphones can also be tracked through the global Apple Find My network, and their surround sound mode, called Spatial Audio, which was previously only compatible with recent iPhones and iPads, will also be available on Macs with the M1 chip. .
AirPods Pro and Max can be located in the Find My app, which leverages Apple’s large network of Bluetooth enabled devices.
Smarts on the device
Artificial intelligence on the device has many advantages over systems that rely on cloud processing. It’s faster and more secure since, for example, your voice commands don’t have to travel to company servers to be interpreted.
In its speech, Apple introduced some Siri requests, such as setting a timer or going to dark mode, which can work without an internet connection. System-wide text translation in languages such as Mandarin, Spanish and French, and Live Text, which can recognize text and numbers in photos or even live through the camera, also works on the device. However, they do require devices with the A12 Bionic chip or a newer processor.
The Health app is where you’ll find data like daily steps, heart rate, and sleep. The next version will allow you to share this data with other members of your family. The idea is that you can monitor the stats of aging parents and let them know if you are concerned about, for example, an increase in resting heart rate.
More privacy protections
Built-in privacy features have long been a part of Apple devices. But, for the first time, the company is including new privacy features as part of its paid iCloud storage plans, now called iCloud +. Private Relay will act as a virtual private network, or VPN, encrypting all of your website traffic. The user is assigned an anonymous IP address and the destination website address is encrypted. Apple says it doesn’t even know which site you are visiting.
A new page in the settings shows a week of data and sensor access by the apps, as well as the third-party domains contacted by the apps.
The company also announced features that don’t require a subscription. Your driver’s license can be encrypted and stored in the Wallet app. The Transportation Security Administration is even working on using digital IDs for security screening. However, it will initially only be available to licensees in certain US states.
The new version of the Mail app will block web beacons that collect information when you open an email. And a new settings page, called the App Privacy Report, shows how often apps use data like location, microphone access, or device contacts. It will also provide some potentially scary extras, such as any third-party domains your apps interact with.
As usual, Apple has targeted this massive software drop for the fall, which should mean the September / October period when new iPhones traditionally arrive. The company didn’t announce any new hardware on Monday, and we don’t expect much until fall, when these new features, especially those that only work with the latest and greatest Apple gear, will increase the temptation. upgrade.