So, yes, I was wrong, very wrong about my predictions for Apple #WWDC21. But if there is any consolation, I was not as wrong as so many tech youtubers and reviewers and so called insiders. There were rumours about new hardware; new macbook pros, macbook air, mac minis, and new 27 inch iMacs, featuring new Apple’s silicon, dubbed as M1X or M2.
None of that came true. I was was not holding my breathe of new hardware, but I surely expected some news about running MacOS apps on the new M1 iPad Pro. But surprisingly, there was nothing. That is not to say that there was no big news. Of course, there were some very interesting things shows. And in retrospect, I think there was more than enough software news that new hardware announcement would not have worked at this even, after all this is a developer conference. However, majority of the announcements in the keynote was geared towards end users. But of course, since this was a developer focused even, all developer sessions came following the days after the main keynote.
Here are a few things that I am excited about.
This is basically surround sound for voice chat. You will hear voices from the direction of their chat window of the person that is speaking. So if the person is on the right side of the screen, you will hear their voice coming from right.
This one I like in particular. What they showed was impressive, but how well it works in real life is to be seen. When facetiming, your voice will be isolated from all the background noise. This is a feature that supposedly can be turned on and off with a single button tap.
This is similar to how there is portrait mode on cameras on most phone. The background will be blurred to give attention to the person in the voice chat. I’m surprised this was missing from Facetime. I think teams and zoom already have a feature to blur the background. But now you have it on Facetime.
Facetime on Android and Windows! – (kind of).
You can now invite friends and family over to your facetime sessions with facetime links. This is obviously in response to zoom. So, although technically not on android or windows as a dedicated app(do not think that it will ever happen), android phone users and windows 10 PC users will be able to join facetime sessions from the browser. The fact that this is even happening is a big deal.
This is again in response to zoom, and I think Apple realizes how crucial video chats have become because of the pandemic.
This again is in response to the pandemic. There was a need to have social interactions in the era of social distancing. It fills the void of movie time with friends.
Shareplay allows users to watch movies and listening to music together. Not only that, Apple has an API that developers can use to implement share play in their own apps. Facetime on android is a great update, but I think the tight integration of share play is going to let developers create some very interesting interactions with their apps. I am really looking forward to what developers do with this feature.
There was always the option of screen sharing and video conferencing while watching. But tight integration with apps and the operating system is brilliant.
Shared with you
Shared with you brings all your photos and links shared with you by friends on Messages to one place, so you can easily catch up or go back to your photos and links and continue the conversation. This again is a another social interaction enhancement. Because sometimes you may be too busy to watch, or read or view what your friends might have sent you, and when you do get the time, the messages that you are looking for are buried deep somewhere making it hard to find and continue the conversation.
Notifications – Focus and Do not Disturb
Focus is basically an enhanced version of ‘do not disturb’. This is not something new, but it has a few Apple-centric enhancements.
You can create profiles for work and home so that different priority is given to different apps accordingly.
Do no disturb also reminds people messaging you that you have your status as “Do not Disturb”. I can see this being helpful in professional settings and acquaintances. Most friends and family, probably will not respect this. (LOL)
If you are in the Apple ecosystem, your Focus and Do not Disturb status gets activate on all your devices when you activate on one device. This is what Apple is good at. And this is what Apple customers have come to expect. But, unlike Microsoft and Google, Apple as a complete ecosystem and that is how Apple can easily pull this off.
Live Text – or what Android users will call “We already have that on Android – it’s called Google lens”. Live text converts any picture with text into actual text on your phone which you can then copy, change, search, and even perform actions like call a number.
Keys and IDs
How about turning your phone into keys for your phone and car? How about turn your phone into a passport or your ID, by storing you government ID on it?
When I hear about these things, all I can think about is the great iCloud hack the exposed very private photos of celebrities. Three words – No, Thank you!
But, I might sound like a hypocrite to some of my friends. Back when I was working on my first startup, I had a vision. At its core it was a social media platform, but my vision was much deeper. I remember talking about having bank account information on this app so you can buy and sell things, send people money. Not only that, using your social media id to identify yourself and then linking it to your government ID, to provide seamless transaction and access to places, whether it be private or government facilities, or accessing information about you through your university. My friends of course laughed it the whole idea. And yet, here we are 10 years later.
The point is not that I had thought of this before Apple, the point is ideas are a dime a dozen. It is not the idea but the execution that matters. Because I am sure many people have brilliant idea that were later turned into billion dollar companies by someone else.
Of course, my focus and values have changed over the past 10 years and I am more focused on privacy or rather the lack of.
Maps now has better graphics. I do not know what else to say. Google Maps is still king and I do not think that Apple or …er..Bing is going to dethrone this king.
Globe – google earth
transit ride – google maps has it
live tracking of your transit ride – again google maps has this
night mode – …okay, good, I guess.
But what I do like about the new update is that, Apple maps will alert you when your ride is near, or has arrived. I have not used Google maps in over a year, but I am sure Google will bring this to Android sooner or later.
Air pods may not be the greatest sounding ear buds, but it is hard to argue against the convenience factor that they have. Being an android user, I envy iPhone users and their instant pairing with air pods, the remove one pod to pause and the stylish white sticks on my ears…umm..actually cross that one out.
Air pods now have conversation boost acting as hearing aids in a noisy environment. The technology allows air pods to convert the voice of the person you are talking to into somewhat of a beam so the speakers voices gets enhanced while other noise gets reduced. It sounds cool, but I’ll believe it when i see it in real life.
So these are some of the highlights of IOS15. I do not have an iPhone. The last iPhone I used was iPhone 3G. I have been a long time Android user, but I do like progress in technology in general. In some ways Apple is only catching up with things like widgets, and in other ways, Apple is paving the way with privacy. I have been using a Note 8 for almost 4 years now and it is still going strong without any hiccups. But when it comes time for an upgrade, who knows, maybe I will jump ship to an iPhone.
This has been my take Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference 2021. What’s yours?