The new version of the mobile operating system, iOS 15, has been officially presented by Apple during the inaugural conference of WWDC 2021. We found a lot of news, but few surprises.
The theme of this year’s WWDC, at least in regards to iOS, is in the connection of people, and specifically, in improving how they communicate using Apple apps such as Messages (Messages on iOS).
The iPhone has become ‘indispensable’ for many people, says Apple, and at its heart is iOS, now with version 15. A system that must adapt to the new needs of users, and in the last year, that necessity has had the name of “video calls.” FaceTime is Apple’s alternative to video calls, and now it has evolved to make them more natural, comfortable, and life-like.
FaceTime will have ‘spatial audio,’ which will allow us to listen to the conversation members as if they were in a physical place, such as a room. Voice isolation will use machine learning to prioritize our voice so that the rest of the participants hear it much better. A broad-spectrum is a new option that does the opposite effect, allowing us to hear everything.
The FaceTime grid view has changed to see all the participants, and now a portrait mode is included, which blurs the background so that our face has all the prominence. And if we want to share a call, now we can create a direct link compatible with Calendar and go through messaging. In addition, it is compatible with Windows and Android since it uses a web page instead of an app.
Video calls are shared experiences, and in that sense comes SharePlay, which will allow us to share content with the participants of a call, such as music, whose playlist can be edited by everyone. We can also watch movies in real-time or share our screen so that the rest see what we are doing; for example, to teach someone how to use some function. These are functions that other services such as Twitch already have, but that Apple now adapts to the more personal use of FaceTime.
And with Picture in Picture, we can do other things while we have the video call with the content playing or share it with Apple TV. This platform will be open to developers with an API, and there are already some apps like Disney +, Hulu, or Twitch that will gain compatibility.
Messages, increasingly like WhatsApp
The Messages app is completely renewed, and now it is more similar to WhatsApp and other instant messaging apps, but with its functions. The way to share photos is especially striking, with a collage that automatically appears with the images we have put.
Shared with You is a new option that will appear in Apple apps to talk with our friends about topics they have shared; for example, Apple Music will show the playlists that someone has recommended to us in a message. Likewise, the Photos app will show the shared photos and add them to the library automatically, although an algorithm will select them to prevent them from filling up with crap.
The iPhone is the mainstay of our daily lives, but Apple believes that we can get too distracted, especially if we combine work and leisure. So to change it, the notifications have changed, with different sizes depending on whether they come from people or apps. In addition, the new summary of notifications will show a review of everything that the apps have told us so that we can understand at a glance what has happened, but notifications from people will always arrive.
And if we don’t want them to bother us, we can activate the appropriate mode, and in that case, we will not only stop receiving notifications, but apps like Messages will show that we don’t want them to talk to us at this time.
The focus will allow us to decide what we want to focus on right now. For example, if we are working, only related apps like Slack can notify us, and we can have the main screen with dedicated apps and widgets. We can customize these “spotlights,” and Apple uses machine learning to suggest tasks or apps.