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WWDC 2021

Highlights from Apple’s WWDC 2021

Posted Jun 8, 2021

Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) which was online once again instead of having a live event in Silicon Valley. The event started off with a keynote announcing updates for several of their major product lines as well as updates on privacy and app developer tools. We’ve gathered some highlights from the keynote announcements that are getting us excited in the mobile space.

New Developer Tools in Xcode Cloud and the App Store

Apple unveiled new tools and technologies designed to make it easier for developers to create high-quality apps and build more engage in-app experiences. Xcode Cloud uses cloud services to allow developers and teams of all sizes to build, test, and publish apps more efficiently. Apps can be automatically built in the cloud instead of using developers’ Macs to do it. Developers can use parallel testing to test on a simulated version of every current Apple device and then deploy the app for internal testing or easily deliver it to external beta users via TestFlight.

The App Store is adding events like live competitions, movie premieres, and live-streamed experiences to promote publishers’ events and apps and allow them to better connect with users. Apple is also introducing new product page tools after receiving numerous requests. Custom Product Pages will showcase different features of their app for different users, while Product Page Optimization gives developers the ability to test different screenshots, preview videos, and even app icons.

Apple Expands User Privacy Features

Last year, Apple announced a major change to mobile privacy by detailing AppTrackingTransparency and its requirement for apps to receive opt-ins from users to track their data. This year, the company announced more privacy features including the App Privacy Report. This new section will live in settings and tell users how often and when apps use permissions such as access to location, camera, and microphone. The dashboard will offer more transparency by showing which domains apps are contacting while being used.

Another big update is that the Mail app will have the ability to block tracking pixels in emails that can expose email activity. The same feature will also hide IP addresses from email senders. There will be similar privacy controls for paid iCloud subscribers, aptly named iCloud+. These users can use Private Relay, Apple’s version of a virtual private network (VPN), and Hide My Email, which lets users generate fake email addresses for those websites that make you enter them for access.

Stay Connected and Focused with iOS 15

In the past year, FaceTime has proven to be an essential way to stay connected to friends and family. FaceTime will be updated with a new grid view that highlights the person speaking and some new spatial audio and voice isolation features to improve sound providing for more natural conversations. SharePlay was also introduced which allows users to watch movies or listen to music together while they chat. Non-Apple devices will finally be able to use FaceTime. Android phones and Windows PCs can join calls through a FaceTime link.

iOS 15 will also include Focus, a new feature that filters notifications and apps based on what a user wants to focus on. For instance, users can choose to receive notifications from Mail, Calendar, or Slack if they want to concentrate during the workday. Users can also build their home screen to match their current focus and organize apps and widgets in a way that reduces distractions. Additionally, notifications have been redesigned with contact photos and larger icons for apps that make them even easier to identify. Notifications will also be arranged by priority based on a user’s interactions with apps.

You can view the entire keynote on Apple’s site.

About WWDC
WWDC is Apple’s annual developer-focused event and features developer workshops, training, parties, and networking events. Every year the event starts with a keynote speech announcing major updates to the software running on the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and other devices.

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