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Apple WWDC 2021 announcements

Apple’s yearly WWDC keynote has come and gone, and with it several key announcements from iOS 15 to macOS 12. In this article we will take a closer look at WWDC, talk about what was revealed at WWDC 2021, and also look at some of the anticipated products which weren’t discussed.

What is WWDC?

WWDC stands for Worldwide Developers Conference. It is an annually held conference that is used to showcase new software technologies, particularly regarding Apple's main operating systems macOS, iOS and watchOS. While WWDC is mainly about software, Apple often uses the event to tease some hardware plans as well.

When is WWDC?

WWDC is a yearly returning event. The WWDC 2021 date was scheduled between June 7 to June 11. The event will take place in a fully digital way. Previously the event has been located in San José, however due to global pandemic, WWDC 2020 was a digital event, a trend which continued with Apple's following events.

WWDC 2021 schedule

The star of each Worldwide Developers Conference is without a doubt its Keynote, in which CEO Tim Cook and other executives unveil the tech giant's upcoming software innovations. The Keynote took place on June 7 at 10 AM Pacific Daylight Time.

Traditionally, the Keynote is the only part of the conference made accessible to the public. Other important elements of the event, such as the Platforms State of the Union (June 7, 2 PM PDT) and the Apple Design Awards (June 10, 2 PM PDT), are only available to registered Apple developers.

What was revealed at Apple's WWDC 2021?

Apple previewed severely significant software updates for the iPhone, Mac and Apple Watch that will be coming in Fall. Apple announced iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS 12, tvOS 15 and watchOS 8.

iOS 15

Apple announced iOS 15 and with it these key features:

  • FaceTime improvements, such as spatial audio to create more real life conversations, as the audio adapts to where the person is on the screen.
  • SharePlay - share media through FaceTime. Share your screen
  • FaceTime will now be available to Android and Windows users. Whilst there is no dedicated app, you will be able to join a FaceTime call via the web with a link.
  • Updates to Messages
  • New notifications
  • “Focus” statuses
  • Updates to Memories in Photos
  • A live text feature which allows you to digitize text from photos
  • A redesigned Weather App

For a more in depth breakdown of iOS 15, we have created a dedicated iOS update guide.

iPadOS 15

With the recent 12.9 inch iPad Pro featuring the same Apple Silicon M1 chip as the 24 inch iMac, and 13 inch MacBook Pro, people were anticipating a considerable update to iPadOS that could incorporate new features to make the most of the M1’s power. Whilst there was a new update to iPadOS, it won’t transform the iPad into a Mac.

  • A redesigned Home screen allowing for more customization. You can move widgets to almost anywhere on the screen.
  • The iOS App Library is being added to iPadOS 15, which will help with organization.
  • Multi-tasking and keyboard shortcuts - New multi-tasking icons, and a split-view mode.
  • QuickNote - allowing users to write and attach notes on their iPad.

macOS 12 Monterey

The next big update for macOS is macOS 12 Monterey.

  • The standout feature is Universal Control which allows you to seamlessly work on your iMac, MacBook Pro and iPad. You will be able to use one keyboard and mouse to work on all three devices if they are placed next to each other. With this you can drag and drop files and images from your iPad to your MacBook, or you can use your MacBook keyboard to type on your iPad, and many other combinations.

  • Safari’s design has also been updated to minimize the size of tabs at the top of the webpage. There are also new Tab Groups to save and organize tabs. These Tab Groups will also sync between Mac, iPhone and iPad devices.

  • The same spatial audio and voice isolation improvements to FaceTime as with iOS 15 and iPadOS 15.

  • Shortcuts - for automating everyday tasks and improving productivity. You will be able to automate certain tasks, import existing Automator workflows and even integrate Siri.

tvOS 15

The updates to tvOS are as follows:

  • Spatial audio support for AirPods Max and AirPods Pro
  • The ability to use a HomePod as a speaker for your Apple TV device
  • You can use Siri to interact with the TV
  • You can access previously shared content in the “shared with you” section

watchOS 8

Here are the watchOS 8 additions:

  • Mindfulness - the new version of the Breathe app
  • The iWatch will measure your respiratory rate during sleep tracking
  • Photos app has highlights and memories and they can be shared from the iWatch
  • Improved Weather app
  • Multiple timers

For more details on all of the above software, see the Apple Newsroom.

What happened to the Rumored MacBooks?

  • As mentioned before, the WWDC is principally about showcasing software innovations, but that doesn't mean there has never been any hardware announcements. In previous year’s Mac Pros, MacBook Pros, iMac Pros, iPhones, HomePods and other hardware have been announced. Unfortunately, WWDC 2021 was fully focused on software, with neither the eagerly anticipated 14-inch MacBook Pro, nor the 16-inch MacBook Pro being mentioned.

These 'next-generation' MacBook Pro models are rumored by Bloomberg to feature a new MagSafe charger, more ports (SD card, HDMI). They are also rumored to have the new M1X chip inside, which is expected to be more powerful than the Apple Silicon M1 chip. Bloomberg reported that the M1X chip will have a 10 core CPU (8 high performance cores, and two energy efficient cores), and a GPU with either 16 or 32 graphics cores.

When will the new MacBook Pro’s be released?

All of the software that was revealed at WWDC 2021 will be coming to users in Fall 2021. It is likely that Apple will want to coincide the release of any new MacBook Pros with the release of MacOS 12 Monterey.

Apple could be waiting until they have sufficient amounts of stock before releasing these MacBooks to avoid a similar situation that has happened with the PS5 and Xbox Series X, where demand has greatly outweighed the limited supply (due to in part the global chip shortage, and the global pandemic).

Apple will arguably want to make the most of the Back to School window (which in 2021 was between June 15th and October 12th) to optimize sales for these new models.

With Apple embracing online events, and having had more events than ever before in 2020, Apple may decide to have a August event dedicated to Macs before the typical September iPhone event, or during the September event, or even at a separate October event. They could announce these new Macs for a release window of Fall 2021, giving them enough time to produce sufficient stock.
Images: © Apple, Unsplash.

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