Apple’s annual WWDC keynote event introduced software-centric new features that make it easier to get things done with more focus and faster.
And there really wasn’t much when it came to new hardware. Apple is saving that for the upcoming event in September.
Even if there wasn’t a new M1 processor or MacBook Pro, that doesn’t mean Apple hasn’t made some great new features available to simplify your workflow and make it easier to work with with greater integration, no matter which one You are right now.
The two most important features needed on all platforms are the ability to share and collaborate, and the ability to focus when you don’t feel like sharing. If you break down the functions of operating systems, it shakes out like this …
iOS 15: Focus is the Word
Focus is the big new feature that extends the Do Not Disturb architecture to keep you doing the job at hand. With Focus, you can set your device to filter out anything that doesn’t belong to your loved ones or colleagues, or even data that doesn’t apply to your job.
This also includes removing any distractions that would keep you from focusing on specific tasks. With Focus, you can create a custom home page on your devices and set it for a period of time so others know you can’t access it right away.
For example, you are under the gun to correct this scene color. It’s a simple click to put focus on “Work” and your iPhone, iPad or even Mac will just give you information about work, receive emails and text messages from colleagues, etc.
But when you’re no longer subject to this limitation, the sharing features allow attendees to listen, watch parties, and watch other things in real time from their iOS, macOS, and even AppleTV.
You can also merge the two to create some sort of workgroup that will allow you to share details, videos, etc., and get real-time feedback from others. It’s pretty cool from a productivity standpoint.
FaceTime is getting a huge new update that also includes Android users who can join a video conference by clicking a shared link in their browser. That is a enormously Development. And users can use grid view to organize session callers and make it easier to see who is active. The new spatial audio feature will also use speech isolation to focus on the speaker’s voice, while machine learning will be used to filter out distracting ambient noise.
In the meantime, Share Play can be a fun way to listen to music, watch a TV show or movie, and even share your screen during a video call. You can even order food for the group without interrupting the call.
Notifications have been redesigned to prevent these messages from stacking up and overwhelming the recipient.
There is a special notification summary report that allows you to get the gist of the incoming messages without having to interrupt your activities to work through them all.
Meanwhile, iPadOS 15 makes multitasking more powerful with a new split-screen design and “The Shelf” that makes it easy to access any open window.
Users can swipe or tap and switch to switch from app to app.
The real question is … what part of California is macOS12 named after? Well it’s Monterey.
macOS Monterey will add all of the sharing capabilities of iOS15 and iPadOS15 and give users the ability to use their iPad as a second screen. Monterey uses a new feature called Universal Control that allows users not only to drag and drop from your laptop to your iPad, but also to control the tablet using your keyboard or mouse.
No additional hardware or keystrokes are required. Just drag and drop or move the cursor over the iPad and start typing.
Notes have also been expanded to add a mention option so the note can be shared. Just “@” someone on your contact list and the note will be shared with them automatically.
Quick Notes are available from the main screen icon and use handwriting recognition to jot down a quick note and link it to any open apps you are currently working on.
Apple’s translation matrix has also been improved so that conversations can be translated automatically and in real time.
The only real talk about hardware was about Airpods, which are now trackable in Find My.
Your iPhone will get an alert if you put your AirPods anywhere, and users can use Find My to get directions on where to find them. And if you have trouble hearing, a new “Conversation Enhancement” feature lets you focus on who is speaking in front of you and let the surrounding noise fade into the background.
Photos and videos
In Apple Photos, users now have a curated save feature that automatically creates fun, music-filled slideshows of your memories with titles and shares them with friends and loved ones.
The shows are interactive and users can remix them with different music and tempos, pause or repeat a section and even search for who is in the picture thanks to Spotlight.
There is also a Live Text feature in Photos that allows users to capture and store text from an image, translate foreign languages from signs, and look up information based on that data. You can even click a phone number in a picture and iPhone will call that number. It’s OCR on steroids.
From a cinematic point of view, there wasn’t much to be gained from today’s WWDC keynote. There were no new iMacs, no MacBooks or even an update of the M1 chip. As expected, these rumors were just rumors.
But from a productivity standpoint, it’s a good bet that in a year’s time, users will be wondering how they ever got their workflow accomplished without many of these new operating system features.