10 takeaways from Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference

The Cupertino-based company previewed new operating systems and introduced several health features with its products

Apple unveiled a variety of incremental improvements to the software that powers iPhones, iPads and Mac computers at the 2021 Worldwide Developer Conference. AP
Apple unveiled a variety of incremental improvements to the software that powers iPhones, iPads and Mac computers at the 2021 Worldwide Developer Conference. AP

Apple has introduced its next operating systems for iPhones, iPads, smartwatches and personal computers, as well as a strong line-up of new technology and privacy features at its five-day Worldwide Developers Conference that began on Monday.

Here are the top 10 takeaways from the first day of the event that is taking place online.

iOS 15 to enhance iPhone experience

Apple announced its newest iPhone operating system, the iOS 15 platform, with several innovative features for an enhanced smartphone experience. The updates aim to make video calls more natural and add new tools that give quick access to information.

Voices in FaceTime, which lets Apple users make video calls to one another, will sound as if they are coming from where the person is positioned on the screen while new microphone modes will strip out background noise.

“For many customers, iPhone has become indispensable ... this year, we have created even more ways it can enhance our daily lives,” said Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering.

The iOS 15 platform "helps users stay connected ... gives them new tools to reduce distraction and uses intelligence to enhance the experience”.

Apple has announced that with the new iOS 15 update, FaceTime users can stay connected while watching TV shows and films, or listening to music. Courtesy Apple 
Apple introduced iOS 15 with new ways to stay connected. EPA

The beta or test version of iOS 15 is currently available to app developers. Another test version will be released next month for iPhone users who want to try it out and help Apple to identify any bugs before the platform is made available to everyone.

New features added to digital keys

Apple introduced digital car keys to let users unlock and start their cars using their iPhones last year. Through new ultra-wideband technology, users can now unlock and start their vehicle without having to remove their iPhone from their pockets or bags. New keys have also been added that will unlock homes, offices and even hotel rooms through keys stored in the Apple wallet.

epa09254099 A handout photo made available by Apple showing a preview of the iPadOS15 with new features in Maps to navigate and explore the world as demonstrated during the keynote at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference in Cupertino, California, USA, 07 June 2021. EPA/Apple Inc. / HANDOUT FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. Images cannot be altered or modified in any way, in whole or in part, that disparages Apple. HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
Apple showing a preview of the iPadOS 15 with new features in Maps to navigate and explore the world. EPA

To ensure user privacy and security, the keys in the wallet are encrypted and stored in Secure Element, the same hardware technology used to protect Apple Pay.

Support for the developer community

To support the community of more than 23 million developers, Apple has introduced new tools to build apps on the iPad and submit them directly to the App Store. Codes will be reflected in the live preview while building apps and users can run their apps in full-screen mode to test them.

Apple has also added new augmented reality technology to make it easier to build immersive content into apps or on the web.

“We are thrilled to provide our developer community with powerful new tools and technology to help create even more compelling and higher-quality apps, while engaging with their users in all new ways through the App Store,” said Susan Prescott, vice president of worldwide developer relations.

Linking up different Apple devices

Apple has added new "continuity" features to ensure a seamless experience when working across different Apple devices.

epa09254065 A handout photo made available by Apple showing a preview of the new iPad productivity features with iPadOS15 with Widgets and the App Library as users can now place widgets among apps on Home Screen pages on iPad as demonstrated during the keynote at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference in Cupertino, California, USA, 07 June 2021. EPA/Apple Inc. / HANDOUT FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. Images cannot be altered or modified in any way, in whole or in part, that disparages Apple. HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
With new iPad productivity features, users can place widgets among apps on the home screen. EPA

Enhanced controls will let users work with a single mouse and keyboard and move between Macs and iPads with no extra set-up required. Users can even drag and drop content between devices. They can play and share movies, games, pictures and presentations from their iPhone or iPad straight to their desktop computer.

Adding more to health

The new operating system gives users the ability to share their encrypted health data with a physician. New tools in the iOS 15 platform can be used to identify, measure and understand changes in a person’s health data, the company said.

“This past year has emphasised the importance of health and we are enabling our users to take a more active role in their well-being. We have added powerful features that give users the most comprehensive set of insights to better understand their health trends over time,” said chief operating officer Jeff Williams.

The Health app adds trend analysis for 20 types of data ranging from the heart's resting rate to sleep to cardio fitness, allowing users to easily see how a given activity is progressing.

This handout image obtained June 7, 2021 courtesy of Apple Inc. shows Apple's vice president of Health Dr. Sumbul Desai talks about new Health features, as seen in this still image from the keynote video of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference at Apple Park in Cupertino, California. Apple kicked off its digital-only annual Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday where it unveiled the iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS 12 and watchOS 8. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /APPLE INC./HANDOUT " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / AFP / Apple Inc. / Apple Inc. / Handout / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /APPLE INC./HANDOUT " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Sumbul Desai, Apple's vice president of health, talks about new health features. AFP

Tools to hone focus of users

To reduce distractions, Apple has introduced a new feature called Focus that filters notifications based on what a user is doing.

Users can create custom Focus settings or select a suggested one based on their context, such as when they attend a meditation class or finish office tasks. They can also create pages on the home screen to display only apps that are relevant and reduce distractions.

Apple Watch to track sleeping respiratory rate

Apple has unveiled its latest smartwatch operating system, the watchOS 8 platform, which adds new features essential for users to stay healthy, active and connected.

This handout image obtained June 7, 2021 courtesy of Apple Inc. shows the watchOS 8, which introduces a new Portraits watch face, as seen in this still image from the keynote video of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference at Apple Park in Cupertino, California. Apple kicked off its digital-only annual Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday where it unveiled the iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS 12 and watchOS 8. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /APPLE INC./HANDOUT " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / AFP / Apple Inc. / Apple Inc. / Handout / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /APPLE INC./HANDOUT " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Apple’s new watchOS 8 introduces a new portrait watch face. AFP

Besides helping users to monitor sleep time, heart rate and blood-oxygen levels, the platform also allows them to track their sleeping respiratory rate, which is the number of breaths a minute. Apple Watch will use the built-in accelerometer to measure this and the information can be viewed in the iPhone Health app, along with trends over time.

Privacy takes precedence

Apple showcased new privacy protections in its latest operating systems for iPhones, iPads, smartwatches and personal computers to improve user control and management of data.

This handout image obtained June 7, 2021 courtesy of Apple Inc. shows Apple's Head of User Privacy Engineering Katie Skinner introduces App Privacy Report, as seen in this still image from the keynote video of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference at Apple Park in Cupertino, California. Apple kicked off its digital-only annual Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday where it unveiled the iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS 12 and watchOS 8. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /APPLE INC./HANDOUT " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / AFP / Apple Inc. / Apple Inc. / Handout / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /APPLE INC./HANDOUT " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Katie Skinner, Apple's head of user privacy engineering, introduces App Privacy Report. AFP

“Privacy has been central to our work at Apple from the very beginning,” said Mr Federighi.

“This year’s updates include innovative features that give users deeper insights and more granular control than ever before.”

New operating systems for iPads and Macs

Apple's latest iPadOS 15 will add previews to its productivity features, enabling tablet multitasking and helping users to be more productive, the company said.

The company will also add a library to the iPad, automatically organising apps into categories such as productivity, games and "recently added".

FILE - In this May 21, 2021, file photo, iMac desktop computers are displayed in an Apple store in New York. At an event on Monday, June 7, 2021, Apple unveiled a variety of incremental improvements to the software that powers iPhones, iPads and Mac computers" would do. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Apple desktop computers displayed in a shop in New York. AP

It also introduced macOS Monterey, the latest version of the desktop operating system, which comes with new ways for users to connect and work seamlessly between connected Apple devices.

With the new OS, the "shortcuts" feature finally arrives on the Mac to help users automate everyday tasks. As with the iPhone and iPad, the feature allow Mac users to quickly accomplish tasks with the apps they use the most.

FaceTime coming to Android and Windows

Apple extended its FaceTime service to users of Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows operating systems. The video-calling service was previously available only on Apple devices.

“Now you can send friends and family a link to connect on FaceTime – even if they are using Windows or Android. And it is still end-to-end encrypted, so your call is as private and secure as any other FaceTime call,” the company said on its website.

The feature, which will be introduced later year, could help Apple retain customers who are compelled to use other platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The company will allow users to schedule calls and share the web links.

Updated: June 8, 2021 09:59 PM

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