Apple’s annual WWDC keynote event unveiled software-centric new features to make getting things done easier with more focus and better speed.
And there really wasn’t a lot when it came to new hardware. Apple is saving that for the upcoming event in September.
Nevertheless, even though there wasn’t a new M1 processor or MacBook Pro, that doesn’t mean that Apple didn’t share some great new features to make your workflow easier, and with greater integration, making it easier to keep working, no matter what device you’re on.
The two major features that are needed across all platforms are the ability to share and collaborate, as well as focus when you don’t feel like sharing. Breaking down the features from operating systems, it shakes out like this…
iOS 15: Focus is the word
Focus is the big new feature that expands on the Do Not Disturb architecture to keep you on the task at hand. With focus, you can set your device to filter out anything that doesn't pertain to loved ones, or coworkers, or even data that doesn't apply to what you’re doing.
This also includes eliminating any distractions that would keep you from focusing on certain tasks. Focus enables you to create a custom home page on your devices and set it for a specific time period, letting others know you can’t get back to them right away.
For instance, you’re under the gun to get that scene color corrected. It’s a simple click to set Focus to “Work,” and your iPhone, iPad, or even Mac will only give you information about work, receive emails and texts from coworkers, etc.
But when you’re out from under that constraint, the sharing features enable participants to enjoy listening parties, watch parties, and other things in real-time, from your iOS, macOS, and even AppleTV in real-time.
You can also merge the two to create a kind of workgroup that will enable you to share details, videos, etc., and get real-time feedback from others. It’s pretty cool from a productivity point of view.
FaceTime gets a huge new update, which includes Android users, who can join a conference video call by clicking on a shared link in their browser. That’s a huge development. And users can use Grid View to organize session callers and see who’s active more easily. The new spatial audio feature will also use voice isolation to focus on the speaker’s voice while using machine learning to filter out distracting ambient sound.
Meanwhile, Share Play can create a fun way to listen to music, watch a TV show or movie, and even share your screen while still on a video call. You can even order food for the group without dropping the call.
Notifications have been reworked to prevent those messages from stacking up and overwhelming the recipient.
There’s a special notification summary report that enables you to get the gist of what’s coming in, without having to stop what you’re doing to wade through them all.
Meanwhile, iPadOS 15 makes multitasking more powerful with a new split-screen design, and “the Shelf,” which makes it easier to access all open windows.
Users can swipe across, or tap and switch to go 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 the sharing features of iOS15 and iPadOS15, as well as giving users the ability to leverage their iPad as a second screen. Monterey uses a new feature called Universal Control, which will allow users to not only drag and drop from your laptop to your iPad, but also control the tablet from your keyboard or mouse.
There’s no additional hardware or keystrokes required. Just drag and drop, or move the cursor to the iPad and start typing.
Notes have also been expanded to add a mention option to make the Note sharable. Simply “@” someone on your contact list, and the note will be automatically shared with them.
Quick Notes is available from the main screen icon, using handwriting recognition to jot down a quick note, linking it to any open apps you’re working on.
Apple’s translation matrix has also been improved, allowing for conversations that are translated automatically and in real-time.
The only real talk of hardware was about Airpods, which are now trackable in Find My.
Your iPhone will get an alert when you leave your AirPods somewhere, and users will be able to use Find My to get directions on where to find them. And if you’re having trouble hearing, a new “conversation boost” feature will let users focus on who’s talking right in front of them, and send the ambient noise deeper into the background.
Photos and Video
In Apple Photos, users now have a curated Memory 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 other music and tempos, pause or repeat a section, and even search based on who’s in the image thanks to Spotlight.
There’s also a live text feature in photos that will allow users to capture text from an image and save it, translate foreign languages from signs, and look up information based on that data. You can even click on a phone number in an image, and the iPhone will call that number. It’s OCR on steroids.
From a filmmaking perspective, there really wasn’t much to grab from today’s WWDC keynote. There were no new iMacs, no MacBooks, or even an update to the M1 chip. Those rumors were, as expected, just rumors.
But from a productivity perspective, it’s a good bet that a year from now, users will wonder how they ever got their workflow accomplished without many of these new OS features.