Apple held its annual WWDC announcement where it announces the new versions of its software platforms and it kicked things off with iOS 15.
With a rise in videochat usage, Apple has spent the most time beefing up FaceTime by improving the experience and adding new features.
Spatial audio is coming to FaceTime, so you’ll be able to hear the recipients from the direction of your Apple device when you’re using a compatible AirPods headphones. Audio quality will be improved for clearer voice sound, and background noise reduction should help you focus better on the person talking.
Spatial audio was showcased working with a group FaceTime call, and each friend will sound like they are coming from a different direction, to make for a more immersive video call. There’s also a new Grid View for FaceTime that shows all the participants in the call.
Portrait Mode is another new feature that lets you apply an artificial bokeh to the take attention away from your background.
Like Google Meet and Zoom, now you can generate FaceTime Links and share those with friends on iOS or Android. So yes, FaceTime calls can finally be done on Android.
Then there’s SharePlay. This lets you use listen or watch content with other FaceTime participants. You can share any Apple TV+ or Apple Music track over a FaceTime call.
Apple also announced an API that lets developers add support for sharing their apps over FaceTime.
Several brands are already on-board including Hulu, HBO Max, TikTok, Paramount+, Pluto TV, ESPN+, NBA, Master Class, and Disney+.
You can use more than one device so you can carry the FaceTime call from your phone and watch the content on an Apple TV.
You can also share your screen via FaceTime now.
iMessage sees minor changes. The way that you see shared images will change to a stack of photos. You can swipe through the photos right from the preview without having them take up the whole screen. However if you expand them to grid view you can quickly leave a reaction to individual photos.
Shared links and videos in group chats will now have their own tab in the News app. This way, content that friends wanted to show you doesn’t get lost in the group chat, and the News app will remind you who shared it.
As on Telegram, you can pin a message from a thread.
Notifications gets a design overhaul and a few new features. Appearance of notifications will be tweaked for better visibility like a larger contact icon and iOS notifications will be more granular. You can set “Focus” profiles that filter the priority notifications while you’re working, for instance.
There’s a new Notification Summary that shows a single tile rather than a long string of missed notifications.
Also, you will be notified in iMessage if your friend’s device is set to DND. You will still be able to force a notification to come through (though silently) if it’s an urgent matter.
Live Text is Apple’s answer to Google Lens. It lets you select and copy text transcribed from images coming from your camera, gallery, or even ones you’ve downloaded from the web. It can then extract addresses and phone numbers and works in seven languages. Live Text will arrive to iPadOS and macOS as well.
Siri Knowledge also lets your iPhone recognize items and landmarks in your gallery.
Apple Maps is the other part of iOS to get a major update in version 15 of the OS. It will receive more detailed maps in select cities as well as AR directions and 3D layered paths for walking navigation.
Supported cities in 8 countries will show three-dimensional visuals like elevation, 3D buildings, new road colors, a new nighttime mode and more. While navigating Apple Maps will show crosswalks, lanes and rendered overlapping intersections.
Transit navigation will work with Apple Watch, showing you the next steps in your journey. You’ll be able to monitor your progress on a map and get a notification before you need to get off.
Apple Wallet gets support for new types of keys, like House and Hotel room keys. Apple has partnered with Hyatt Hotels, letting Apple Wallet store a hotel key and use it to enter a room. The Hotel can choose when to activate the key.
Apple Wallet will be able to incorporate UWB technology to work with smart car keys – automatically unlocking a supported car and allowing it to start without the need to take the iPhone out.
Finally, users in supported US states will be able to add their Identity Card to Wallet and use them to pass certain security checkpoints, like at an airport.
Apple iOS 15 is available to developers today with a public beta coming next month. The final software will get released this Fall.