Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote gave us no new hardware – sorry Mac fans and AirPod upgrades. The company also did not address legal issues and protests from app developers and companies over the cut it takes. Instead, we got an Apple that makes its devices both more paired and at least a little friendlier with computers that are not iOS (or MacOS).
The biggest indicator for the latter was FaceTime, which received upgrades including spatial sound, background blur and a grid view. The app will also now work with Android devices and PCs via a web app, which means you can share FaceTime conversations with people even if they do not own Apple hardware. It̵
As is usually the case, the new iteration of iOS dominated. This year’s theme seemed to be a combination of further improvements to users’ privacy and an attempt to correct alerts and give at least some control back to those who feel overwhelmed by constant pinging. Apple calls it Focus, and it will focus on interchangeable profiles on the iPhone. These determine which alerts are displayed and even customize your home screens to reflect whether you are in work or playback mode.
We’ll touch on some of the major announcements in detail below, but pretty much every major piece of Apple software got something. For all things macOS, watchOS, Safari, Siri and the rest, read on.
– Mat Smith
However, you may need a HomePod mini to act as a hub.
It would not be WWDC without more Siri. We received two big announcements for Apple’s voice assistant. Your voice-activated requests will now be handled on your device, and Apple says this will be faster and for regular requests work without WiFi or data connection. These common requests include timers, app launchers, and music playback.
Since its introduction almost ten years ago, Siri has been limited to Apple devices. Going forward, however, third-party devices will be able to benefit from Siri as part of an update of the company’s HomeKid system. It sounds like these third-party devices will not be full-fledged devices running Siri itself. Instead, it will relay the command to a HomePod mini, which then sends the request. Continue reading.
It lets you easily control your Mac and iPad from the same keyboard and mouse.
After a thorough redesign last year, the next version of macOS may seem a bit tame in comparison. The most notable feature seemed to be Universal Control, an evolved form of Apple’s Continuity that lets you seamlessly use keyboards and mice across Macs and iPads. Yes, third-party apps like Across have been offering this kind of thing for a while, but they have been difficult to set up. With Universal Control, you can swipe files from your Mac to iPad, and even use the same cursor between the two. You can even throw the iPad screen into larger Apple screens. Continue reading.
Sleep tracking has also been upgraded.
While WWDC did not offer us the strong independent laptop rumor in the past, it did make the Apple Watch more capable. WatchOS 8 enhances the existing features of the Breathe app with a new Mindfulness app that adds new animations and ways to reflect. The latter seems to be a new spin on guided meditation – if you are able to read Apple Watch’s introspective questions and not hinder them. (I can struggle.)
If you use your watch for bed, it will also track calculations such as sleep time, heart rate, blood oxygen level and respiratory rate. Previously, it only tracked how much time you slept each night. You will not see many changes in the training app on Watch, but tai chi and Pilates training types will come to the app this fall. Fitness + subscribers will also have access to new “artist spotlight” workouts with playlists focused on major music artists. Continue reading.
More from WWDC 2021
Apple Messages gets a number of new sharing features
Apple Wallet may have a driver license in iOS 15
Dolby Atmos spatial sound is now available on Apple Music
iPadOS 15 has widgets on the home screen and better multitasking
Apple Maps’ new user interface is a boon for navigators
tvOS gets spatial audio support for AirPods Pro and Max
Apple’s new features for AirPods include help for ‘mild’ hearing loss
Apple will not release its VPN-like “private relay” feature in China
The technologies were hired by a contractor, but there is still a great deal of privacy.
Apple was also in the news for reasons unrelated to WWDC. According to a report in The Telegraph, Apple paid a “multimillion-dollar” settlement to a woman who studied at the University of Oregon after two iPhone repair techniques at a Pegatron facility in Sacramento, California, posted explicit photos and a video online in 2016. She sent the iPhone in for a solution, but noticed that the perpetrators shared the media through her Facebook account as if she had posted them herself. While the incident happened on Pegatron’s watch, Apple paid the settlement and received compensation from Pegatron. Continue reading.
The agency tracks the payment through the Bitcoin ledger.
The US Department of Justice has restored part of the ransom Colonial Pipeline that was paid last month to regain access to its computer systems after it was locked out of them by the “apolitical” ransomware gang Darkside. The agency says it seized 63.7 Bitcoins, worth nearly $ 2.3 million.
The attack had real consequences and led to a shortage of fuel over parts of the east coast and southern United States. Following the incident and an executive order from President Biden, the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued mandatory cyber security guidelines for all pipeline companies. Continue reading.
But wait, there’s more …
Samsung’s stretchy electronic ‘skin’ can detect and display heart rhythm
Jeff Bezos and his brother will fly on Blue Origin’s first tourist flight
Jaybird’s Vista 2 earbuds offer ANC and better battery life for $ 200
What happens on TV: ‘Loki,’ Ratchet & Clank ‘and’ FFVII: Advent Children ‘
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial staff, regardless of the parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we can earn an associated commission.