Apple WWDC 2021 live updates: iOS 15 announced

That’s a wrap

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the new beta software will be available for developers and early adopters in the coming month, and they will be released to the public in the fall.

Thanks for tuning in. — Kif Leswing

Apple says App Store has 600 million weekly visitors, updates product pages

Apple has paid $230 billion to developers since it launched, the company said. 600 million people visit it per week.

Apple will allow developers to maintain multiple product pages to test which graphics and text works best to gain customers. Apple will also market key apps on the App Store through a new feature called Events.

Apple’s App Store rules and fees have been under intense scrutiny from developers and lawmakers. It’s the only way for most people to install apps on an iPhone. — Kif Leswing

Apple introduces tool to turn photos into 3D models, which will be important for augmented reality

Augmented Reality

Source: Apple

Apple’s conference is designed to give tools to developers to encourage them to work on Apple phones and computers.

One of the biggest new technologies announced on Monday allows developers to turn 2D images into a 3D model. Apple’s example was a sneaker. This allows users to take a bunch of photos on the iPhone and then convert them into a model that can be used in augmented reality apps.

The ability to create models quickly will be important for online commerce — one example was furniture vendor Wayfair — but will also be an essential tool for building AR experiences and apps. Apple is working on virtual and augmented reality in its Technology Development Group, but has not announced a hardware headset. Currently, Apple’s AR products are software features in the iPhone and iPad. — Kif Leswing

Apple announces MacOS Monterey, which can share a mouse and keyboard with an iPad

MacOS Monterey

Source: Apple

The latest version of MacOS, is named Monterey after the scenic beach town in California’s central coast. It has new features that allow users to use the same mouse and keyboard across a Mac or an iPad.

The mouse cursor can move back and forth between the iPad an a Mac laptop or desktop, turning the iPad into functionally a second screen. It even works between Mac computers. The feature is called Universal Control.

Universal Control

Source: Apple

iOS devices can also beam their screen to a Mac computer through a feature called AirPlay.

Apple added a bunch of new Shortcuts to the Mac interface. Shortcuts is an automation app for power users.

Apple’s Safari browser also got a redesign with new features including tab grouping and tab bookmarking.

— Kif Leswing

HomePod mini will be able to request shows on TV, work as stereo TV speakers

Apple is further integrating its HomePod Mini with Apple TV and other devices.

This fall, you’ll be able to ask your HomePod mini to play something on Apple TV. So, you can say, “Hey Siri, play CNBC on Apple TV,” for example. Users will also be able to use the HomePod mini to play stereo sound from their TVs, a feature that was originally limited to the original and now-discontinued HomePod.

Finally, Apple said it will let third-party accessories tap into Siri. It showed an example where a thermostat answered a Siri request, for example. It said, for privacy, those requests are routed through a HomePod.

— Jessica Bursztynsky

Apple announces WatchOS 8, with Mindfulness app and portrait photo watch face

Apple Watch Health/Mindfulness

Source: Apple

Apple revealed the newest version of its Apple Watch software, WatchOS 8, on Monday. It includes a new watch face that can use a photo taken in portrait mode as the background.

Apple has also added a new feature allowing users to write text with their fingers to send in messages directly on the watch.

Apple Watch OS8

Source: Apple

WatchOS 8 includes an updated Breathe app, which guides users through a brief breathing exercise.

It also includes a new app called Mindfulness, which can show quotes or other inspirational meditation-adjacent phrases called “Reflections.”

Apple’s Fitness+ service for the iPhone will also gain several new workouts. — Kif Leswing

The iPhone can now monitor to see if you’re walking steady

Apple Health Mobility

Source: Apple

Apple says its technology inside iPhones can measure user balance, stability, and coordination, and warn users if they’re more at risk to fall. The metric Apple is synthesizing is called walking steadiness. If the user has an increased risk of falling, Apple will send you a notification.

Apple’s health app can store medical records. Apple’s health app will also include additional details about what various health metrics, like cholesterol, mean. Apple has built new features interfacing with health record companies, allowing Health app data to be shared with their doctors. Another feature allows users to share health data with friends or family.

Apple Health Labs

Source: Apple

Apple will also notify users about long-term trends in their health data.

— Kif Leswing

Apple announces iCloud+, new privacy features for online storage subscribers

Apple announced a service called iCloud+, which includes additional features for online privacy. It’s included in the current iCloud prices, Apple said.

The most significant feature is Private Relay, which routes web traffic through two separate server to mask who is using the internet and what they are browsing, like a VPN.

iCloud+ also has a feature called Hide My Email, which allows users to use a placeholder email address when signing up for new features. Apple has also added additional video features for smart home cameras that store footage on iCloud.

Apple announces new privacy features

Apple is beefing up its privacy protection.

The company said it’s rolling out tracker-blockers in its Mail app, which will help hide your IP address, location and prevents senders from seeing if and when you open an email. It’s also hiding IP address from trackers in Safari.

Apple is also adding an App Tracker Report section to settings, where users can see how often apps use info in last seven days and find out third party domains app is contacting.

Finally, Apple said that Siri will support offline speech recognition, which means it’s more private but also faster, since some commands won’t have to be sent to the cloud first. So, you can do things like say “Hey Siri, start a timer for 10 minutes” and it’ll start the timer right away.

— Jessica Bursztynsky

Apple says Siri is used by 600 million devices worldwide each month

Apple doesn’t often give stats on how widely used Siri is used, but Apple said on Monday Siri is used by 600 million devices per month. — Kif Leswing

Is the iPad a computer yet?

iPad Multitasking

Source: Apple

I can’t tell you how many WWDCs I’ve sat through where Apple claimed it’s beefed up the multitasking capabilities of the iPad in order to make it function more like a regular laptop.

And Apple did it again today. (See Kif’s earlier blog entry for more details.)

But none of those updates matter if app developers don’t take advantage of these features. Historically, it’s been difficult for Apple to persuade developers to take the iPad seriously as a computer replacement, which is why the tablets are still mostly used for consumption, not creation.

It’s way better than it used to be. In fact, I use my iPad more than I use my MacBook these days. But there’s still a long way to go for the iPad to catch up to the MacBook.

There’s an easier solution though: Just put a touchscreen on the MacBook. Please. — Steve Kovach

Apple announces new iPad software called iPadOS 15 that lets you do more at once

Apple announced new iPad software called iPadOS 15.

IPadOS 15 includes new ways to rearrange iPad apps, put widgets on the home screen and the App Library feature, formerly iPhone exclusive, that automatically organizes apps.

iPad Multitasking

Source: Apple

Apple also introduced a new multitasking interface that makes it easier to put two apps side by side on the iPad screen.

The Apple notes app has been updated to better interface with other apps. One feature, called Quick Notes, lets users jot notes using the Apple Pencil, a stylus.

A new version of the Translate app for iPads allows users to speak and have the discussion translated on-screen in real time.

Apple’s app for learning how to code, Swift Playgrounds, can now build full apps, which can be submitted to the App Store Apple said. — Kif Leswing

Apple’s AirPods headphones can now be used to improve hearing

A new feature coming to AirPods called “Conversation Boost” helps people better understand who they’re talking to in real time in a busy environment. Users can also adjust ambient background noise levels to help improve audio. Siri will also soon read important notifications, if you want it to, instead of just incoming calls and messages. — Kif Leswing

Apple Maps gets big new update with more city details and 3D models

Apple is updating its maps software with new 3D data. It now includes turning lanes and other road conditions. It is expanding to Spain, Portugal, Italy and Australia later this year, Apple said.— Kif Leswing

Apple announces iOS 15, newest version of iPhone’s software

Apple’s senior vice president in charge of software, Craig Federighi, announced iOS 15, the latest version of the iPhone operating system. This software typically releases for most users alongside new iPhones in the fall, but developers and early adopters can start using it earlier, typically during the summer.

Apple Share Play

Source: Apple

  • FaceTime improvements, including 3D audio, portrait mode to blur backgrounds, and a grid view to speak to multiple people at the same time. Apple will also allow users to send links to schedule individual FaceTime calls, like Zoom links. Users can also share their screens or music, through a new software feature called ShareTime.
  • FaceTime calls are also now supported on Windows and Android through a browser, the first time that FaceTime has been supported across platforms.

Apple WWDC21

Source: Apple

  • An iMessage redesign, which includes features that turns messaged photos into galleries.
  • A new feature called “shared with you” saves links that people sent you and puts them in one place so users can address them later. It works with Apple Music, Safari, Apple Podcasts, Apple TV and Apple News. Users can pin important messages featuring content.
  • Redesigned notifications, including a feature that collects users’ notifications into a custom summary, ordered by priority. Notifications from people will continue to appear on the lock screen so they won’t be missed.

Apple WWDC21

Source: Apple

  • Users who have turned on “do not disturb” or a new “focus” mode will have their status shared with other users, like an away message.
  • Focus mode can hide any apps that you don’t want to distract you.
  • Camera improvements, including a feature called Live Text that can automatically identify and scan text in photographs.
  • Apple’s machine learning will also be able to identify elements in photos, such as location or whether there’s a pet in the scene. Apple’s system search, Spotlight, will search these elements.
  • A feature called Memories will use machine learning to combine photos into relevant galleries or animations and sometimes add music from Apple Music.

Wallet and keys

Source: Apple

  • Apple is also updating expanding the Wallet app functionality to include corporate badges as well as keys to get into hotels and houses with smart homes.
  • Apple is also going to support scanning U.S. IDs, such as driver’s licenses, into their wallet. Apple says it is only supported in some states for now, and the TSA will accept the credential.
  • Apple’s Safari browser on the iPhone can now support the same extensions that the desktop version of Safari does. Apple also redesigned the tab interface.

Wallet and keys

Source: Apple

If you thought Facebook was angry with Apple before today…

The slew of new communication features Apple announced for iOS 15 on Monday are sure to have Mark Zuckerberg’s blood boiling over at Facebook headquarters.

In effect, these new features build a closed-off social network for Apple, letting you share Apple News stories, Apple Music tracks and even hold FaceTime video chats with non-iPhone users.

Zuckerberg has already said he considers Apple a major competitor because of iMessage. Now Apple is building out even more social features natively into iOS. And, of course, Apple will be able to promote the privacy of these social features, unlike Facebook. –Steve Kovach

Apple CEO Tim Cook kicks off WWDC

Tim Cook at WWDC21 on June 7th, 2021.

Source: Apple

After a short comedy video focusing on software developers, Apple CEO Tim Cook has kicked off the show from the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. He came out on stage to a virtual crowd of avatars. — Kif Leswing

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg needles Apple ahead of its conference

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg (L) and Apple CEO, Tim Cook

Reuters

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg needled Apple hours before its WWDC conference was scheduled to kick off.

In a short post on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg announced a new Facebook feature enabling users to tip social media personalities. He said Facebook isn’t charging until at least 2023, and when it does, it will take less than the 30% fee Apple charges iPhone apps using in-app purchases.

“To help more creators make a living on our platforms, we’re going to keep paid online events, fan subscriptions, badges, and our upcoming independent news products free for creators until 2023. And when we do introduce a revenue share, it will be less than the 30% that Apple and others take,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Apple’s developer conference this year takes place at an uncertain time in Apple developer relations. Apple needs computer software companies to make apps for its platforms, which in turn makes its products more attractive to users.

WWDC is aimed at getting those software makers excited about Apple. But Epic Games, Facebook and other firms have complained that Apple’s App Store rules are too stringent and its 30% fee for digital purchases is too high. — Kif Leswing

Apple’s web store remains online

Apple has historically taken down its online store for a few hours during a big launch, signaling exciting new products being added and building hype. But on Monday, the store was still up 15 minutes before WWDC was scheduled to kick off, suggesting no new major products. — Kif Leswing

Apple should bring Mac features to iPads today

The big screen is fun for gaming, too.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

I hope to see Apple bring some of the software features from MacBooks to iPads today.

The latest Macs and iPad Pros run on the same M1 processor, so there’s enough power on the high-end iPads for running apps in multiple windows, like you would on a traditional computer, and support for using an external display for any app.

A report from Bloomberg over the weekend suggested we’ll at least see improvements to iPad multitasking, so it seems like my wish is at least plausible.

Apple has so far said it sees iPads and Macs as totally different devices with different use cases, so I don’t expect a complete merge of the operating systems. — Todd Haselton

The Apple-developer love fest is over

In normal times, WWDC is a love fest between Apple and the developers who keep its massively profitable App Store chugging along.

But this year is going to be different. The disputes over App Store fees between Apple and big-name developers like Spotify have spilled into the public view in recent months. That’s especially apparent with the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games. The two companies went through a three-week trial last month, and the judge’s decision in the case could alter the power dynamics between Apple and app developers.

In the past, developers remained quiet about their complaints with Apple’s App Store rules, lest they draw the ire of Tim Cook and company and risk their access to the App Store. But thanks to groups like the Coalition for App Fairness and the overall anti-Big Tech sentiment in Western governments, developers now feel emboldened to make their complaints known.

I’m most interested to see how Apple uses this year’s WWDC to highlight the benefits it can offer developers while still protecting one of its massive profit centers, the App Store. — Steve Kovach