As the summer of 2021 comes around, so too does the next major update from Apple with their annual Worldwide Developers Conference 2021. Virtual again this year thanks to COVID, the online announcement this month was a chance to get an early glance at what new changes are coming to our devices including iPhone and iPad in the autumn. Here’s a round up of the new features that stand out:
We’ve spent a lot of time indoors on video calls this last year, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed by Apple. As well as audio and video enhancements to Facetime, Apple have added Share Play allowing you to stream video and audio right from your apps to everyone on your call. I’ve certainly been to a few virtual parties where this would have been a great addition.
No more write ups
Ever taken a picture of those whiteboard notes and wished you could just copy and paste them? Apple’s new live text feature allows you to do just that. If there’s text in an image, Live Text will allow you to select it, copy it and use it. It sounds great, and our whiteboard wall certainly suits something like this, but it does raise a few flags around security to me. You hear enough horror stories of people sharing images without realising their credit card details are in the picture, without those then being directly copyable.
Apple has always been keen on health and wellness and this year is no different. Coming in iOS15, Focus has been designed to allow users to compartmentalise the onslaught of device notifications that can sometimes be overwhelming. Focus allows you to separate apps into categories such as work, home, or fitness, limiting which notifications you get and when to match your current frame of mind.
Goodbye email pixels
Apple’s strong take on privacy has always been a topic for controversy and their Privacy announcement this year was yet another blow to the marketing community. The new updates will allow users to turn off email Pixel tracking, preventing tools like Mailchimp from knowing where a user is, or even if they’ve opened an email. Good news for personal data, bad news for all those marketing campaigns.
Leave a legacy
It may seem like a dark subject but what happens to our online presence when we are gone? Who can access it, and how has proven to be an unnecessary hurdle for families time and time again, often resulting in complicated checks and lengthy processes. Apple is resolving this with iCloud Legacy. By selecting a legacy contact, that user can request and gain immediate access to your account, should the worst happen.
Monterey and magic
As comes round once a year Apple has announced it’s next new MacOS named Monterey. One of the most impressive features of Monterey is the new Universal control feature which allows iPad and MacOS (both laptop and desktop) to work collectively as if they were one machine, just by having them near to each other. This means you can move your cursor between 2 or 3 different devices, including iPad and move files seamlessly from one to the other using drag and drop. It’s not clear which devices this will be achievable on, but it certainly looks kind of magical.
All in all a fairly good show from WWDC this year. In the late 2000’s I watched my first ever Apple conference and marvelled at the world changing revelation that was the first iPhone, I even wrote a media A level paper on it, so they’ve always got a lot to live up to. There’s still some catching up being done to keep up with features already familiar to Google users, but similarly I can see Google looking to catch up with some of these new ideas. It’s a push-me-pull-you of the big tech giants, but their ongoing ambition to improve and augment our lives with technology will continue to change how we live in the years to come.