Apple is kicking off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference with a keynote where the company is revealing updates coming to iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Among other things, the company is bringing Zoom-like features to its FaceTime service, including a new grid view and support for generating meeting invitation links that you can send to anyone — including Windows and Android users. Clicking the link will let users join a call via a web browser.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Apple is introducing a nifty new Universal Control feature that lets you use a single mouse, touchpad, or trackpad to control multiple Mac or iOS devices, new features for iPad widgets, and improvements for notifications, privacy, health, photos, and many other apps and features.

Developer betas of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and MacOS Monterey are out today, with public betas coming in July and stable versions set to roll out for end users this fall.

One of Apple’s strengths has always been its ecosystem. The company’s software is designed to let all of its hardware work better together. And the new Universal Control capabilities built into the next version of MacOS, called “Monterey,” is a pretty great example.

Place your iPad next to your Mac and you can use the computer’s keyboard and touchpad to control the iPad. Just move the mouse cursor to the edge of your screen, keep going and it’ll pop up on the iPad. Not only does this allow you to enter text or launch and interact with apps, but you can also copy and paste images or files between devices.

Universal Control also works with up to three – during the keynote we saw a demo of an iMac, MacBook, and iPad all working together. But The Verge notes that it needs to be initiated on a Mac, not an iPad.

MacOS is also picking up an updated Safari web browser with a new design for tabs and support for a new Tab Groups feature.

Apple is also bringing a new Shortcuts feature to the Mac, allowing users to choose from pre-built actions or create their own custom app-and-action shortcuts.

A new Focus feature for Mac also lets users switch modes to limit their notifications.

FaceTime for Mac now supports spatial audio (so voices sound like they’re coming from the position on the screen where each face is located), and AI-assisted voice isolation, which suppresses background noise.

And AirPlay to Mac lets users beam content from a phone or tablet to a Mac as if it were a smart TV or wireless speaker.

Apple’s cloud services are getting an update with new privacy features and support for connecting more HomeKit security cameras to your system.

Apple is bringing new multitasking features to iPadOS, including some that had already been available for iPhones (like an App Library for managing installed apps), and some that aren’t (like widgets on the home screen).

Meanwhile iOS 15 is bringing a major overhaul to notifications including support for viewing contact photos in notifications, the ability to avoid distractions by only surfacing less important notifications at certain times, and support for arranging notifications by importance.

Other updates in iOS 15 include the Focus feature mentioned above in the macOS section and some privacy updates – for example the Siri voice assistant now does language processing on your device without sending any data to the cloud. Not only does this mean Apple isn’t storing your voice data, but it should also allow for faster response times.

Apple says Spotlight in iOS 15 can now search photos by location, people, scenes, or objects. It can even find handwriting in a photo thanks to a new Live Text feature which can convert text in a photo into searchable, copy/pasteable text.

Apple Wallet is also adding support for storing driver’s license or state IDs. And the Weather app includes new graphics.

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3 replies on “Here’s what’s new for iOS, iPadOS and macOS (news from Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote)”

  1. As a Californian and Spanish speaker, I did a double take and had to double check the source. Yep, it’s Monterey (“King Mountain”), not Monteray.

    1. I noticed the misspelling as well. What would “Monteray” be then? Mountain eel?

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