Apple has given gadget fans a look at the new features coming to the iPhone as part of this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
The annual preview – which, like last year, is virtual due to the pandemic – showcases upcoming software updates for Apple’s range of devices.
Slated to land in the autumn, iOS 15 is the next installment of the iPhone operating system and brings with it several new features.
The biggest update in iOS 15 is coming to FaceTime, which in the wake of Covid-19 and the rise of apps such as Teams and Zoom, is now going to look and feel much more like those platforms.
FaceTime users will be able to schedule calls for the first time, and share links to join the virtual gatherings, links which will even enable Android and Windows users to join FaceTime calls via a web browser – another first.
The other big change is something Apple is calling ‘Focus’.
This takes the Do Not Disturb feature and allows users to customise it further, with new Focus themes which block out notifications from friends and family when switched to work mode, or shut out notes from colleagues when a user wants to spend quality time with loved ones.
Notifications have also been undated with a new ‘Summary’ tool, which will group certain, less-pressing alerts together as a collection and can be scheduled to come through when you’ve got more time to go through them.
Elsewhere, the Wallet app is expanding to now support house and hotel room keys, as well as office passes for the first time, so users can tap with their iPhone to enter.
Apple Maps has been given a new, more detailed 3D look too, while the iPhone camera is now able to spot and lift text from images.
‘For many customers, iPhone has become indispensable, and this year we’ve created even more ways it can enhance our daily lives,’ said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.
‘iOS 15 helps users stay connected while sharing experiences in real time, gives them new tools to help reduce distraction and find focus, uses intelligence to enhance the photos experience, and, with huge upgrades to Maps, brings new ways to explore the world. We can’t wait for customers to experience it.’
Other Apple devices, such as the iPad and the Apple Watch are also receiving new OS updates.
The widgets introduced to the iPhone home screen last year are now coming to iPad, while multitasking tools have been enhanced to give users ways to customise different split-screen set-ups.
A Quick Note feature is coming too, meaning users can swipe from the corner of the screen at any time and within any app with an Apple Pencil to launch a new note and quickly scribble down what they need to.
Health and wellbeing were again key parts of the Apple Watch software update, with a new Reflect app joining the Breathe feature inside a new Mindfulness app.
Reflect will ask users to think of a happy thought or moment of joy for a few seconds and focus on it, as a new alternative to the breathing exercises in the Breathe app.
Meanwhile, tai chi and pilates workouts have been added to the Fitness apps, and Portrait photos can now be used as interactive watch faces.
To be called macOS Monterey, the next version of the computer software will include a new tool called Universal Control, which will enable people to use a single mouse and keyboard to control and navigate the screens of up to three different devices.
For example, someone editing an image on a MacBook will be able to use the trackpad to move over and take control of their iPad set up next to them, and even an iMac as well if they have one – allowing them to work across the three machines at once.
Spatial Audio, which works with the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max will also now work with macoOS Monterey.
Safari, Apple’s web browser, has also been given a redesign, with a more compact, tidier address bar and tabs section and the ability to group tabs into collections for the first time.
Apple boss Tim Cook said all the new software would be released to the public in the autumn, likely to coincide with the launch of the next iPhone and other Apple hardware.