At yesterday’s WWDC keynote event, Apple’s VP of Technology Kevin Lynch announced watchOS 8. The latest iteration of the Apple Watch operating system includes advancements in health features, a refreshed take on photos, improved text input, and more. Apple didn’t spend much time on watchOS during the event, but there are many quiet, new features sneaking into this release. Let’s take a look at everything Apple has in store for Apple Watch users this fall.
Health and Fitness
No watchOS update is complete without health and fitness changes. This year, Apple has revamped the Breathe app (and renamed it to Mindfulness), added more sleep tracking features, and provided new workout types.
Fast Company’s Michael Grothaus interviewed Craig Federighi this week regarding the suite of new privacy features which Apple unveiled at WWDC. The article includes some notable technical details on how iCloud Private Relay works under the hood. One of the most interesting — and somewhat unfortunate — revelations is that iCloud Private Relay will only work from Safari. Users of other browsers are out of luck here.
The reason for this restriction has to do with Apple’s commitment to unassailable privacy, which happens by ensuring that no party can ever access both your IP address and your destination URL. From what I can gauge, this is actually a three-step process which looks something like this:
- From Safari, you navigate to a particular URL. Safari encrypts this destination URL locally and then forwards your request to Apple’s iCloud Private Relay servers.
- Apple’s servers anonymize your IP address so that it can’t be traced back to you, then forward the request to a trusted third-party’s servers.
- The third-party decrypts the destination URL, then forwards the final request (decrypted URL plus anonymized IP address) to the destination.
In today’s first special WWDC 2021 episode, we cover the highlights of Apple’s keynote, including iOS and iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8.
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Privacy has become a central theme of Apple’s OS updates in recent years, and this WWDC’s announcements were no different. During the opening keynote yesterday, the company introduced new privacy features across its OSes and system apps designed to put users in control of their data and prevent unwanted tracking. As Craig Federighi Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering explained in an Apple press release:
Privacy has been central to our work at Apple from the very beginning. Every year, we push ourselves to develop new technology to help users take more control of their data and make informed decisions about whom they share it with. This year’s updates include innovative features that give users deeper insights and more granular control than ever before.
One of Apple’s focuses this year is on email. Hide My Email, which is part of iCloud+, lets users create random email addresses that forward to their main address, allowing them to avoid giving out their primary email address to third parties that may sell it or use it to send unsolicited messages. According to Apple, iCloud+ subscriptions with the new features the company announced will cost the same as they do now for the amount of storage offered with a current iCloud subscription. Another new mail feature is, Mail Privacy Protection, which is built into Apple’s Mail app, and prevents invisible pixel trackers that are used to tell if someone has opened a message and gather other information.
Yesterday, not long after Apple’s opening WWDC keynote, the company activated Spatial Audio and lossless playback for Apple Music. The company followed up with a press release in which Zane Lowe, Apple Music’s co-head of Artist Relations and radio host, explains the new feature and how he feels Spatial Audio will affect music.
First announced last month, spatial audio is a new audio feature that will initially be available on a couple of thousands of Apple Music tracks, providing a surround sound experience for music fans. The technology is based on Dolby Atmos, which is also used by Amazon Music and Tidal.
Adobe continues to release M1-native versions of its Creative Cloud apps, announcing today that native Apple silicon versions of Illustrator, InDesign, and Lightroom Classic are all available now. The company also revealed several features coming to its other desktop and mobile apps and published a benchmark analysis that it commissioned from Andreas Pfeiffer of Pfeiffer Consulting, showing that, on average, Creative Cloud apps run 80% faster on M1 Macs compared to comparable Intel systems.
This morning at Apple’s second fully-remote WWDC keynote address, Craig Federighi introduced iOS and iPadOS 15. This year’s updates include significant improvements to core first-party apps, new controls for maintaining focus, system-wide text and object recognition in images, and much more.
On the iPad-only side of things, Apple has announced a variety of new multitasking interface elements, feature parity with the iPhone’s Home Screen, quick note capturing available at any time in any app, and an overhauled Swift Playgrounds which supports building and shipping complete SwiftUI apps to the App Store.
As usual, developer betas are available today, with final versions scheduled to ship to all users this fall. Let’s take a look at all the details that Apple has in store for us this year.
Apple concluded today’s WWDC opening keynote by unveiling macOS Monterey, which was fitting given that so many features coming to the Mac this year are also new to other platforms or are coming from those platforms to the Mac for the first time. It’s a release that promises closer integration than ever before between the Mac and Apple’s products through a long list of individual feature releases and updates. Let’s dig into the details.
As with the other online events Apple has held since early 2020, today’s keynote was a fast-paced affair that covered a lot of ground including upcoming updates to iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS. If you didn’t follow the live stream or announcements as they unfolded today, you can replay it on Apple’s Events site or catch it on YouTube.
The keynote video can be streamed here and on the Apple TV using the TV app. A high-quality version will also available through Apple Podcasts as a video and audio podcast. There is an American Sign Language version of the event, too, which is available here.
You can follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2021 hub, or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2021 RSS feed.