With no hardware to announce, it wasn’t exactly the most exciting WWDC of all time, but Apple did announce the new iOS and iPadOS 15 – which isn't exactly a surprise. As usual, the updates do bring some useful new features. So here's the best of what we learned from Apple's virtual conference.
Meet your new passport: your iPhone
One of the more exciting changes is government ID integration into the Wallet app. Apple’s Wallet will soon let you store your ID in a digital form, which you’ll then be able to use as identification in airports. Unfortunately, for now, this feature will remain exclusive to participating US states and airports.
Apple is going to use AI to read text in your photos
You know when you take a picture of some notes, but then you never actually use the picture because that would mean you'd have to take notes all over again? Well, Apple has solved this weirdly specific problem with the help of artificial intelligence. Apple’s new Live Text will digitize text in your photos, which can let you copy and paste text from a photo, for example, or call a phone number that’s in a photo. Neat!
FaceTime just got so much better
Say goodbye to your FaceTime woes. If you've ever said I wish I could FaceTime people who don't have iPhones or I wish I could share media in-call, then these updates are for you.
Apple is finally reaching out a little beyond its hardware ecosystem and will launch a FaceTime app that is compatible with other platforms.
And once you get all those Android users on FT, Apple’s new SharePlay feature will let you watch or listen to content with them virtually. So you can share that song and see their reaction or even watch a video together while on the call. Apple is also introducing a SharePlay API so that other developers can build apps that support the feature.
Siri will stop snitching
Apple announced a slew of long-overdue privacy updates. Notably, your handy assistant Siri will now do most of its audio processing right on your device for a variety of basic commands, so your data stays on your phone. This also means Siri can accept many requests while offline.
Most importantly, this update means a lot of your basic interactions with Siri won't be shared anywhere else. The company says one of the main concerns with using voice assistants is having your information uploaded online, and this update should ease some of those fears.
Apple also revealed Siri voice control will now work on third-party devices. However, as described in the keynote, you'll need a HomePod to route information through for these devices to work. The HomePod will ensure your information is sent securely.
Other welcome privacy updates include hiding your IP address by default with Safari and Apple Mail.
AirPlay to your Mac
It's 2021 and we're finally getting this very basic update. The macOS Monterey and iOS 15 will now allow you to use AirPlay to stream content from your phone or iPad to your Mac or MacBook. It’s a small update, but one we've been waiting on for years.
Stay up to date on your family's health information
Apple is introducing a number of new health-focused features, leading the charge is the ability to share health data with your families and with healthcare providers. With this new feature, the iOS 15 is about to make it easier for family members to keep tabs on each other’s health metrics.
Your AirPods are about to get chatty
Apple is making some new changes to AirPods, including the ability to announce your notifications. In addition to that, AirPods Pro will now allow you to boost the volume of voices (and control the volume of ambient noise) of those around you when you’re having a face-to-face conversation in a noisy environment.
Apple is also making it easier to find AirPods on the Find My network app and will be able to alert you if you leave them behind. Now that's useful.
Swipe between devices with "Universal Control"
The macOS Monterey is adding a new feature called Universal Control that allows users to use a single mouse and keyboard across Macs and iPads and seamless transition between multiple devices.
During the WWDC, Apple demonstrated how you could simply move your mouse to the edge of your MacBook screen for a few seconds and automatically be linked to your iPad. You can even drag and drop images and files between devices this way – no word, on whether this also applies to iPhones.