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5 announcements from Apple WWDC 2021 we’re excited about

Apple tackled many new features for its different platforms as it kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. But we wanted to just give you a quick look at useful features we’re excited to get our hands on when these updates come out in the fall.

If you want a summary of everything Apple announced during WWDC’s first day, you can check this video:

Apple FaceTime takes on Zoom

Many new features are coming to FaceTime, but one of the more important ones is that you can schedule FaceTime sessions and send links to these video calls to all kinds of users, even those on Android or using Windows PCs. For Android and Windows users, the video call will be accessible through the browser, turning it into a competitor with Zoom, Google Meet, and other videoconferencing apps.

On top of that, FaceTime gets spatial audio, so it seems like the person you’re talking to is with you. It can also isolation your voice to make sure the focus is on your conversation instead of, say, the dogs barking or lawnmower working in the background. To help keep the focus on you, iPhone’s Portrait Mode is coming to the app, too.

FaceTime also makes it easy to share music, shows, and even your screen with the new SharePlay feature. You can hosts watch parties or listening sessions with this feature. And if you have an Apple TV, you can enjoy the content you’re streaming on your TV while it streams on your phone. It currently works on Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, Hulu, HBO Max, MasterClass, NBA, Paramount Plus, Pluto TV, TikTok, and Twitch. But Apple is sharing the API to allow developers to make their apps compatible with the feature.

On the other hand, screen sharing would be particularly helpful for teaching someone else how to do a specific task on their phones.

Set boundaries with Focus mode 

Apple gives you more control over your notifications and alerts without being as restrictive as Do Not Disturb. iOS, macOS, iPadOS, and watchOS are getting a new Focus mode that you can set up to filter notifications depending on what you’re doing.

For example, you set up a Work filter, it’ll only surface things like messages from your co-workers, your email, and more. When you set Focus on one Apple device, it’ll apply to your other Apple gadgets, too. Your contacts on iOS will even see when you’re in Focus mode, so they know you might not get back to them as quickly as possible. It can even show you different home screen panes depending on what Focus mode you’re on.

You can activate these modes by yourself, or iOS 15 can switch it up automatically, too, depending on where you are and your habits.

Apple also cleans up the Notification shade by organizing notices by what it thinks you’d want to see. It makes profile photos on messages and calls larger, and you get more prominent app icons, too. The system will compile the less important notifications into card-like summaries, so you can get back to them later on. Messages won’t be affected by this change, so you won’t miss any important things sent your way.

Revisit what’s ‘Shared With You’

Apple has another way to help you manage information overload of sorts, but this time from the recommendations or stories or photos sent by your loved ones or other contacts. Apple Messages is getting a Shared With You feature that ties in the app with other Apple apps like News, Music, Safari, Podcasts, Apple TV, and Photos. This Shared With You section will show you the content you’ve received from others along with who sent you the link so you can send them your thoughts if you want. This handy feature makes sure you don’t lose track of a link or playlist sent to you.

Moving content from one Apple device to another gets easier 

The company is moving beyond using your iPad as a secondary screen. Apple is introducing a new Universal Control feature that will work between iPadOS and the upcoming macOS Monterey. We’ve seen in the demo that you can move content, say an illustration, on your iPad through your MacBook to the iMac. All you need to do is drag and drop, and it doesn’t look like you need to set anything up. That’s definitely convenient. And we hope it works as advertised.

Keep spammy marketing emails away

The latest Apple initiative when it comes to user privacy gives you the option to hide your IP address and location from senders, preventing them from seeing if or when you’ve opened their message. Mail Privacy Protection could potentially keep spammy marketing emails out since it takes out the ability to track your daily internet use. Apple is also rolling out an App Privacy Report that provides an overview of how and when apps use the permissions you’ve granted them, like how often they access your contacts, camera, or microphone.

Siri is also getting on-device speech recognition, which would allow the virtual assistant to answer some commands without needing to access the internet and create unwanted voice recordings. It also allows you to use Siri offline, and it speeds up its response time, too.

Which features are you looking forward to the most? Let us know on social media!

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