Today Apple unveiled a line of 22 different International Watch bands, along with accompanying Apple Watch faces. The International Watch Bands are Sport Loops. The list of available countries is:
These Watch bands are considered limited editions, so they will only be available for a finite amount of time. Therefore, if you want to get one, you should order it soon. Each watch band costs $49, or the equivalent. And as of this writing, some are currently unavailable for purchase.
Today Apple held its World Wide Developer Conference where they provide information about what is coming in the next version of their operating systems, and Apple announced a lot of things including new features iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, and macOS 12. Let us start where Apple started, with FaceTime.
FaceTime is Apple’s audio and video calling software that will allow you to communicate with others and it is getting a bunch of changes.
FaceTime will now allow you to choose how much background noise to let onto the call. You can either use “Voice Isolation”, which will reduce background nose through machine learning, or you can use “Wide Spectrum” which will include your voice and everything in the background. You will be able to easily switch between the two.
While on a FaceTime call audio will be improved as well through Spatial Audio. Spatial Audio will automatically have audio seem as though it is directional. This means that if someone is on the right side of the screen, the audio will seem as though it is coming to your right, just as if you were in the same room.
While you are on a video call, you can turn on a new grid view. Grid view will provide everyone with the same size tiles and the active speaker will have an outline around their tile.
FaceTime has always been an Apple device-only feature, and it will largely remain that way, at least with native apps. There is a new feature called FaceTime links that will allow you to generate a FaceTime link and share it anywhere, including to those who may be on Android and Windows, through their browser. This will be a great way of getting everyone together so everyone uses the same platform, and it will remain end-to-end encrypted.
FaceTime is a good way of being able to communicate with others, but when you want to be able to consume the same media, it may not always be easy to do. This is where SharePlay comes in handy.
SharePlay is a new way of being able to, as the name implies, share and play things simultaneously. This could be something like listening to Apple Music or watching a movie on Apple TV. It is not limited to just Apple services, third-party apps can support it as well. Some third-parties are already working on integrating SharePlay into their apps, including Disney+, Hulu, ESPN, Twitch, TikTok and others.
If you use a streaming app, all of the audio and video will be synchronized, so you can all be at the same spot. When you use SharePlay you will be able to share your screen, you will be able to show someone what you see, which makes it great for tech support and being able to help someone through a problem spot.
Next, let us look at another item used for communication, Messages.
Messages is one of the primary communication tools used on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. People share all sorts of things within Messages, like links, pictures, articles, and more. Right now, there is no easy way to gather all of this information together.
Now, with the latest operating systems, media that is shared with you will be able to be found in the appropriate app. Photos will appear in the Photos app, any articles will appear in News, and podcasts will appear in Podcasts.
When you are ready to consume that, you can, and you can even jump right back into the conversation to discuss it once you ready to do so.
Life is full of distractions and constant interruptions. With the ever increasing remote work happening for a certain segment of the population you may want ways to be able to concentrate on certain tasks during specific periods through the day. There is a way feature called Focus that lets you do just that.
Focus will allow you to create different homepages on your devices for certain times throughout the day so you can focus on the task at hand.
On device machine learning will help identify which apps are used throughout the day and suggest them for during those times. The same can be said for notifications and messages. Of course you will be able to override suggestions and even create your own custom Focus sessions.
The biggest feature though is that all of the focus sessions will synchronize across all of your devices, so you can have the same consistency no matter what device you use.
Apple is expanding maps to include more detailed maps so that they include things like marinas, buildings, and they can indicate elevation. Along with this, there is are new road colors and labels that will help you determine which lane to get in during your trip. Maps will also make it easier to identify things like turn lanes, bike lanes, taxi and bus lanes, and crosswalks so you can be aware while driving.
These features will be coming to some countries this year and more in the future.
If you enjoy using maps at night, there is a new Nighttime mode, which will change the look with a moonlit mode.
For those who use public transit, there are some features for you like nearby stations, the ability to pin your favorites, and this will work with the Apple Watch so you will be able to know which stop you need to take to get to your destination.
The iPad is seeing some major changes, including getting Widgets on the home screen like iOS got with iOS 14. This includes a specialized Extra Large widget specifically designed for use on the iPad.
There are some new widgets coming as well including widgets for FindMy, Contacts, Game Center, and a redesigned Files widget. Along with this the App Library is now on iPadOS, and is available in the Dock at all times, so you can quickly access any app. Beyond this though, you can also use the App Library to quickly move entire pages of applications, or hide them, all with a few quick gestures.
Multitasking has gotten some great updates, including the ability to always access Split View and Slide Over, right from any app. You simply tap on the three buttons at the top of the app and the controls will appear. Simply tapping on one of the buttons will switch it. And if you are using only one app at the moment, it will bring up the home screen so you can select the app you want to use in split view or slide over.
There is a new Shelf feature that will allow you to easily temporarily move windows so they can be accessed more easily later on.
One of the big uses of iOS and macOS is the ability to takes notes. There is a new feature called QuickNote that will let you start a new note from anywhere. These are not just basic notes, but instead they are fully functional notes that you can either enter text via a keyboard or you can use the Apple Pencil to write in.
Notes now also has a new feature called Tags, so you can easily organize your notices and find them within search. If you want to share a note with someone, you simply have to mention them in the note and they will get a notification that a note was shared.
One of the most requested features is the ability to not only run, but develop apps directly on the iPad. That is now possible with Swift Playgrounds. The new version of Swift Playgrounds will allow you to build, run, and submit apps directly to the App Store. These will be limited to SwiftUI apps, but even this is a HUGE step forward. This is one feature that I will definitely be testing.
Safari is getting an overhaul. There is a new feature called Tab Groups. Tab Groups allow you to organize different sets of tabs together. These can be accessed together as a group and opened up as a group. These synchronize across all of your devices so you can access them on your iPad, iPhone, and Mac. If you add or remove a tab from the group, it will be automatically synchronized between them.
Along with this, the tab bar is redesigned so the tabs are at the top and the tab bar will adopt the color of the website, so it all looks like its a single page.
iCloud is seeing some new features as well. This includes new account recovery options, digital legacy, and some privacy additions.
It is inevitable that at some point someone is going to lose access to their iCloud account. However, there are some new account recovery options that will allow you to add trusted individuals who can receive a code to allow you to login, should you somehow lose access to your account.
There are two inevitable things in life, death and taxes. While Apple cannot help with the second one, they can with the first, with the new Digital Legacy program. This program will allow the important information to be passed down to family members, so others will have it when you are no longer around.
iCloud is getting some additional features called iCloud+.
iCloud includes a feature to allows you to store HomeKit video. This is limited to five cameras. That will no longer be the case, once you upgrade to iCloud+. You will be able to have unlimited cameras connected, and they will not count against your iCloud storage limit.
Privacy is an important aspect in today’s modern society. Many companies will use whatever information they can to track you across websites. This information can include IP address, so they can obtain a general location.
When you go to sign up for a service you may not want to give away your email address, so there is a new feature called “Hide My Email”. This feature will generate a randomly generated email address that you can provide to the company and it will forward to your main email account.
There is an option to allow your data to be sent through two different relays so that the services cannot ascertain your location and they cannot track you. In reality, this sounds like an Apple VPN and is similar to the Mozilla VPN service.
Next, let us turn to macOS.
macOS 12 is Apple’s next version of macOS. Each version of macOS has its own name, and this year’s is macOS Monterey.
macOS gets a bunch of features that have already been discussed, including SharePlay, Spatial Audio, the microphone modes, grid view, and macOS Monterey supports FaceTime links.
Just like FaceTime, the features in QuickNotes are supported on macOS, including tags. Any Focus configurations will be supported on macOS as well, which is great for productivity. Maps gets all of the same features including Globe Mode, the new transit features, and the new landmarks, and Night mode.
There are three new features coming only to macOS. These are AirPlay, Shortcuts, and Universal Control.
macOS has long been able to send what is playing from a Mac to another device. However, you have not been able to send things to a Mac. This changes with macOS Monterey, provided you have a supported Mac.
Apple introduced the Shortcuts app with iOS 12 in 2018 and built in the app with iOS 13 in 2019. Shortcuts is a way of being able to automate iOS. This is now coming to macOS. Apple indicated that this is going to be the platform going forward, but it will be a mull-year transition to Shortcuts, but AppleScript is still supported.
There are a number of users who use multiple devices, like an iPad and a Mac. Many users would like to be able to easily move between their Mac and their iPad. There are some third-party apps and hardware that allow you to do this, but it is not built into the system. But with macOS Monterey it is, provided you have supported Macs and iPads.
When you use Universal Control you can use your Mac to move between your iPad and the Mac, using the trackpad on your Mac. This is not limited to just being used between a Mac and an iPad, but you can use it between two Macs as well.
There are some limitations, like both devices need to be on the same iCloud account, within 30 feet, have two factor authentication enabled and not sharing an internet connection.
This will be a great way to enhance productivity if you need to easily move between Macs and iPads.
This is just a sampling of what Apple has announced with today’s WWDC keynote. There are more things related to Health, the Home, and I did not even cover watchOS, which has some stuff like a mindfulness app, respiration rate tracking, and two new workout types Tai Chi and Pilates.
Here is the AirTag and AirTag Accessory availability for the evening of June 6th, 2021.
The biggest changes are that the Hermès Bag Charm – Fauve is “Currently Unavailable. The other change to note is that the Belkin Secure Holder with Strap and Belkin Secure Holder with Key Ring have improved in availability, they are now about 3 to 4 weeks of availability, as compared to the 4 to 5 delivery from the last posting.
Changes for AirTags
AirTag – Single has changed from Jun 24 – Jul 1 to Jun 30 – Jul 8
AirTag – 4 Pack has changed from Jun 24 – Jul 1 to Jun 30 – Jul 8
AirTag Leather Key Ring – Baltic Blue has changed from Thu, Jun 3 to Wed, Jun 9
AirTag Leather Key Ring – Saddle Brown has changed from Thu, Jun 3 to Wed, Jun 9
AirTag Leather Key Ring – PRODUCT(RED) has changed from Thu, Jun 3 to Wed, Jun 9
AirTag Leather Loop – Saddle Brown has changed from Thu, Jun 3 to Wed, Jun 9
AirTag Leather Loop – PRODUCT(RED) has changed from Thu, Jun 3 to Wed, Jun 9
AirTag Loop – Electric Orange has changed from Thu, Jun 3 to Wed, Jun 9
AirTag Loop – Sunflower has changed from Thu, Jun 3 to Wed, Jun 9
AirTag Loop – Deep Navy has changed from Thu, Jun 3 to Wed, Jun 9
AirTag Loop – White has changed from Thu, Jun 3 to Wed, Jun 9
AirTag Hermès Bag Charm – Fauve has changed from Jul 9 – Jul 16 to Currently Unavailable
AirTag Belkin Secure Holder with Strap – White has changed from Jun 23 – Jun 30 to Jun 22 – Jun 29
AirTag Belkin Secure Holder with Strap – Black has changed from Jun 23 – Jun 30 to Jun 22 – Jun 29
AirTag Belkin Secure Holder with Strap – Blue has changed from Jun 23 – Jun 30 to Jun 22 – Jun 29
AirTag Belkin Secure Holder with Strap – Pink has changed from Jun 23 – Jun 30 to Jun 22 – Jun 29
AirTag Belkin Secure Holder with Key Ring – White has changed from Jun 23 – Jun 30 to Jun 22 – Jun 29
AirTag Belkin Secure Holder with Key Ring – Black has changed from Jun 23 – Jun 30 to Jun 22 – Jun 29
AirTag Belkin Secure Holder with Key Ring – Blue has changed from Jun 23 – Jun 30 to Jun 22 – Jun 29
AirTag Belkin Secure Holder with Key Ring – Pink has changed from Jun 23 – Jun 30 to Jun 22 – Jun 29
Typically when Apple has an event, I typically end up doing a post about my predictions for what the event will hold. For most of Apple’s events, I think it makes sense, yet for Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference, called WWDC, keynote it does not make as much sense to do so.
WWDC is where Apple provides information about the next versions of their operating systems. On the first day of WWDC there are two keynotes, one aimed towards the general user and a second one called the “State of the Union”. The State of the Union is the keynote for developers that can get a bit more technical.
Instead of doing purely a predictions post, I am going to do more of a wish list post. With that, here is what I would like to see from Apple.
Apple likes to say that “Music is part of Apple’s DNA”. Recently, Apple announced that there will be lossless audio available on Apple Music as well as Dolby Atmos enabled tracks. There have been a number of changes over the years for the Music app, but there are a couple of things I would like to see.
The first is that I would like to be able to zoom in on artwork within the Music app. I cannot see why there is any reason why this has not been something that we can do.
The second item that I would like to see related to music is the ability to create Smart Playlists from the Music app. The Music app on macOS, previously iTunes, has long allowed you to create playlists based on certain criteria. These playlists can be uploaded to one’s iCloud Music Library and then view them on an iPhone or iPad. My question is why can this not be done on an iPhone or iPad. The interface would need to be built, but the devices definitely can handle the need. It may even be that the songs for these are only updated once a day, or only when a device is on a charger. This would be nice to see.
Apple is all about services and one of the services is iCloud. Ever since its introduction in 2008, as the replacement of MobileMe, the amount of free storage has been 5GB. To me, this is not only woefully inadequate, but it makes Apple look really stingy. I understand that Apple has billions of customers and that it is a lot of data that could need to be stored. However, Apple has the money to make this happen. I think the minimum should be at least 10GB. Yes, additional storage can be purchased, but the minimum should be something that users can actually use.
The second iCloud related item, is that there should be a place where one can see all of their iCloud Shared folders. To me, this should already be in the system, but it is not. This should be available in the Files app, in Finder on macOS, and available on iCloud.com. This would be a small feature that would go a long way.
There are two things that I would like to see for the Apple Watch. One of these relates to charging and the other to watch faces.
When you charge an Apple Watch once the Watch is fully charged a notification will be sent to the paired iPhone. What I would like to see is this enhanced a bit so that the notification will be sent to other nearby devices, like a Mac or an iPad, provided that the devices are logged into the same iCloud account. Like the listing of shared iCloud folders, this is a small feature that would add a nice touch.
The second change is third-party custom watch faces. I think allowing developers to create custom watch faces, and having users install them, is sorely needed. The Apple Watch has a wide variety of watch faces, however, even with all of the customizations that are available, not all watch faces suit the needs of all users. I am not sure if Apple will ever do this, but I am sure that there is a market for this.
Widgets were introduced with iOS 14 and have been very popular. When they were introduced there were two limitations, minimal interaction and iOS only. I would like to see some updates to these limitations.
Currently with Widgets you are limited to opening a deep link into an app. I think adding some interactivity is needed. It completely makes sense to limit the feature set for the first release, but adding more features as time goes on makes sense. It would be nice to be able to have additional interaction options.
Along with enhanced interactions, I would like to see Widgets come to the iPad. Right now, Widgets are limited to the left side of the first page on the iPad, whereas the iPhone allows widgets on the home screen. I know this would make my iPad usage experience a bit nicer.
To coincide with widgets on iPad, I would like to see additional sizes. Right now there are three sizes, called “small”, “medium”, and “large”. A small widget is a two columns by two rows, a medium widget is two rows tall by four columns wide, and a large widget is four columns by four rows. The additional sizes could be “extra small”, which would be a one two columns by one row. Additionally, it would be handy to have a vertical “extra small”, where it would be one column by two rows. Furthermore, a “extra small wide” version, which is one row by four columns, as well as the vertical variant, would also be an option.
Barry Sullivan’s Ideas
Barry Sullivan, friend of mine and editor my books, has some ideas on what it might be good for Apple to as well. “for Apple to unleash the iPad Pro with the M1 ‘desktop class’ processor that should allow: Widgets all over the place not just the left side of the screen, a real file system to move files and data around, a mail system that allows “nested folders” that a user can open and close (just like on the Mac), more choices for icon size (think small, medium, and large – like you can in widgets)”.
Barry also added “For me the mail nested folders thing would make my life easier since I track bill pay for me, [and my relatives]. And if the iOS mail world would tie in better with the Mac imap world I would be able to work across devices, after all it is 2021.”
Barry is right, the Mail app on iOS and iPadOS has remained mostly unchanged for the last decade.
On the topic of the iPad, the new 5th Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and 3rd Generation 11-inch iPad Pro includes an M1 processor. What we do not know is why Apple has in store for the device. There needs to be some big changes for the iPad, beyond getting feature parity, like widgets, with the iPhone. If the iPad is truly going to be its own device, then it needs the software to catch up to the hardware.
There have been those who have speculated that the M1 iPad may be able to run virtual machines or docker installations. It is possible that Apple will do this, but I am not sure, but anything is possible. No matter what, there needs to be a significant improvement in iPadOS, otherwise what is the point of having the iPad because it is effectively a giant iPhone.
The hardware of the iPad has long outstripped the software, and it is beyond time for the software to catch up. It would be great to see iPadOS push the M1 iPad to its limits, possibly with some features only being available on the iPad with the M1 system on a chip. This would not be unprecedented in the history of the iPad, so it would be prudent for Apple to show that they are indeed putting functionality into the iPad and iPadOS.
tvOS and HomePod
There is one prediction that I am going to make. That prediction is that tvOS will be renamed to homeOS. homeOS will be a combination of the Apple TV and the HomePod. The reason that I think this is that the HomePod has been running the same software as tvOS for a couple of years. With the Apple TV and HomePod both being home-based items, it would make sense. Furthermore, with an Apple TV and HomePod both being capable of being a HomeKit Hub, renaming it would make sense.
A couple of job postings have hinted at this. Both of the job postings listed homeOS. Once this was discovered, one was changed to tvOS and the other now says “HomePod”. This is why I think these two will be combined into tvOS.
There are a couple of things that I would like to see related to the management of apps. These are around data and availability.
All apps contain at least some data. One thing that I would like to see is the ability to backup and restore an individual app’s data without needing to go through Xcode. While many apps sync their data via the cloud, there may be aspects of an app that are local and being able to backup and restore this individually would be a nice thing to have.
Availability of apps is an important one. As much as I would like this next feature I highly doubt that Apple would make it happen, and that feature is side-loading. I would like to see iOS and iPadOS app side-loading similar to that macOS. This would allow for some apps that would not be available otherwise. However, given how much control Apple wants to keep on iOS and iPadOS, I do not see this happening.
Apple’s WWDC keynote, as well as the State of the Union, will be streamed on Monday at 10am pacific time, and 2:30pm pacific time respectively. While the main keynote is great for most users and the media, the State of the Union is geared towards developers and is where we will more likely learn about the nitty gritty details.
As is the case with all of Apple’s keynotes, I will have a recap post after the event has ended. So check back then to see what Apple actually announces.