Everything Apple announced at WWDC 2021


It's that time of year again! Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference this morning in the same way it does every year: with a keynote packed with all the new features coming to its various devices. 

Didn't get a chance to watch the stream? We understand. That's why I've condensed all of the major developments into the bullet points below. You are free to skim at your leisure!

Table of Content

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iOS 15

Craig Federighi kicked things off by discussing the latest major iOS update, indicating that it focuses on four points: staying connected, finding focus, using intelligence, and exploring the world. He mentioned that iOS 15 will be released in public beta in July, with a full release scheduled for “this fall.”

Spatial Audio: When combined with a compatible audio setup, spatial audio makes it appear as if your friends' voices are coming from their on-screen location. 

Voice Isolation: When FaceTiming from a noisy environment, better (and toggleable) voice isolation is available.

Portrait mode: FaceTime will get the portrait mode from the camera app, which means pretty background blurring.

FaceTime links: You can now create shareable FaceTime links to invite others to join FaceTime calls (including desktop and Android users via the browser!).

SharePlay: Listen to music, watch video (select video partners initially, including Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and TikTok), and control apps in sync with friends using shared audio/video streams. The shared videos can be pushed to your AppleTV, keeping everything in sync across devices and households.

“Focus” mode

You'll be able to switch your phone into different, customizable modes, such as "work," which will show only your work-related apps, or "personal," which will hide all of your work apps and widgets. Turn on vacation mode!

Notification batching: You can now tell iOS to group together less important notifications and deliver them all at once (such as after you wake up, rather than letting them trickle in throughout the night).

Live Text

The camera can now recognize handwritten or printed text in photos and make it selectable, searchable, copy/pasteable, and so on. It can also recognize things other than text, such as animal breeds, landmarks, and so on.

Apple Wallet

Apple is adding home, office, and hotel keys to Apple Wallet, allowing you to use your phone to unlock compatible doors in those locations. For example, you'll be able to check into certain hotels and have your room key appear on your phone as soon as it's ready.

They're also collaborating with the TSA to put an encrypted copy of your state driver's license (!) in Wallet, which will be accepted at security screenings (in select states, at first).

Apple Maps

With the addition of 3D elevation maps, 3D rendered landmarks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and other details, Maps is getting a makeover. 

Apple Maps is also taking some cues from Google Maps, such as a mode that allows you to use the camera to scan nearby buildings to better orient the phone and figure out which direction you should go at the start of a walk.

AirPods Update

When you're having a face-to-face conversation in a noisy environment, AirPods Pro will now allow you to boost the volume of those around you (and control the volume of ambient noise). 

Find My: AirPods will now work with the Find My app even when they're in the case, alerting you if you forget them. 

Spatial audio is coming to tvOS and Macs with M1 processors.


Widgets for the iPadOS home screen will be available. They're very similar to the ones on iOS, with the addition of a much larger widget option due to the larger screen. 

The concept of a "App Library" is making its way from iOS to iPadOS. 

A new multitasking menu will (hopefully) simplify how you manage multitasking on iPadOS, moving away from the system's current reliance on easily forgotten gestures.

You can now @ mention someone in a shared note to get their attention on a change, and highlight changes when you return to a shared doc in the Notes app. Meanwhile, swiping up from the bottom right corner of the screen will allow you to create a note from anywhere. 

Translate: iPadOS will get a system-wide text translation feature, as well as an app for real-time translation of in-person conversations. 

Swift Playgrounds now allows you to create iPad apps and submit them to the App Store. 

The public beta will begin in July, with the full release scheduled for “this fall.”

Security Updates

The Mail app will now hide your IP address and location from those pesky tracking pixels marketers love to tuck into emails. 

An “App Privacy Report” option in settings will now summarize how often each app accesses your location, photos, and other data, in the hopes of identifying any unusual behaviors. 

Siri's speech recognition will now take place on the device itself, keeping audio recordings off Apple's servers and allowing Siri commands to be issued without an internet connection.

You'll be able to add recovery contacts to your iCloud account, which will allow you to choose friends who can assist you in regaining access to your account if you get locked out. You'll also be able to select "Legacy" contacts who will be able to request access to your iCloud data if you pass away.

Health Updates

Your iPhone can now analyze your gait, step timing, and other factors to determine your "walking steadiness," which should help you determine if your risk of falling is increasing over time. 

The health app's "Trends" summary will highlight patterns in your step counts, heart rate, and other metrics. 

New "Health sharing" options will allow you to safely share health information with people you care about, such as your parents or children.


watchOS can now track your respiratory rate (the number of breaths you take per minute) and note how you breathe differently throughout the day (for example, when you sleep). They're also adding new workout modes, such as Tai Chi and Pilates, to the activity tracking engine. 

A new “Portraits” watchface will create a neat, layered-looking clock layout using your portrait-mode photos. (See picture below)

On watchOS, the “Scribble” handwriting recognition is integrated right into the text view, giving it a subtle makeover. You place the text cursor on the crown, then draw the letters/symbols you want directly on top of your text. 

The public beta will begin in July, with the full release scheduled for “this fall.”

Siri goes to third-party devices

Beginning later this year, Apple says it will open up Siri to third-party manufacturers and their devices, allowing Siri to live on things like ecobee thermostats.


MacOS Monterey will be the name of the next major release of the operating system. 

All of the previously mentioned SharePlay features are coming to macOS, including the ability to watch video and listen to music in sync with friends over FaceTime. 

“Universal control” will allow you to control multiple macs and iPads with a single keyboard and mouse setup, automatically recognizing when a new compatible device is placed nearby. When you place an iPad next to a MacBook, it expands automatically, transforming the two devices into one large canvas. 

AirPlay is now available on Macs, allowing you to send AirPlay content to your Mac's display in the same way that you would an AppleTV.

The iOS "Shortcuts" automation system is coming to macOS, allowing you to quickly drag-and-drop scripts to perform the tasks you do frequently. (If you're already using macOS' automator system, it will continue to work for the time being.) 

Safari's user interface is being revamped, with smaller tabs and a new "tab groups" system to keep things organized. Tab groups will sync between iCloud devices automatically. 

The public beta will begin in July, with the full release scheduled for “this fall.”

Developer Announcements

Despite the fact that the conference is called the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple tends to keep the keynote focused primarily on consumer-facing topics and save the most technical information for the week's many breakout sessions. However, they did mention a few developer highlights, including: 

New APIs to connect to SharePlay, Focus, and other services. 

iOS will have a built-in 3D object scanning system that developers can use to integrate 3D scanning-style functionality into their apps without having to reinvent the wheel. 

Developers can now create multiple App Store product pages for the same app, each with different icons, screenshots, and other elements, to see which one resonates the most.

TestFlight, Apple's service for privately distributing pre-release/beta apps on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, is coming to macOS.

Apple’s WWDC Keynote

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