Apple WWDC 2021 keynote: Live updates – CNET

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

It’s WWDC week, when we’ll learn about software updates behind the hardware  Apple announced at this year’s spring event, including the M1 iPad ProM1-powered iMacAirTags and more. That means iOS 15, iPadOS 15, MacOS 12, WatchOS 8 and TVOS 15 (and maybe even HomeOS). Another rumored product that might debut: a redesigned MacBook Pro with a new next-gen M2 chip.

Apple’s free, online-only WWDC begins June 7 at 10 a.m. PT, 1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. BST and at 3 a.m. AEST on June 8. (Sorry, Australia.), but our live preshow show has already begun; you can watch it here. Then stay for the event stream, or catch it straight from Apple’s website

More Siri more places

[11:22 a.m. PT]

Until now, Apple’s voice assistant has only been available on its iPhones, iPads, Macs and HomePods. Now, Apple said, it’ll work with partner companies to make Siri available on their devices too. So, for example, if your smart thermostat has a microphone and speaker, the company will be able to add Siri to it.

Apple said it’s keeping all Siri communication in your home, so everything will work together rather than needing to have an internet connection. 


Bigger health push

[11:08 a.m. PT]

A couple years ago, Apple added a feature to the Apple Watch to call for help if you fall. Now, it said the Health app will identify what your likelihood is to fall in the future. Apple said the new datapoint, called “steadiness,” is scientifically validated, and based on how you walk throughout the day. And if your likelihood of falling rises, Apple said it’ll send an alert to warn you.

Apple’s building other features to help decode health data into its Health app. The company said it’s building “trends” into its Health app, showing whether you’re more (or less) active. It’s also building more helpful information into the labs section of its Health app. So, for example, the next time you get a blood test, the Health app will explain what each datapoint means and whether it’s within expected ranges.

Apple’s also adding a way to share health data with your family. The company said people will now be able to share health data with other iPhone users, and give them access to whatever selected data you want. Apple said this will be particularly helpful for families with elderly people and kids.

Apple said all this data is encrypted and can’t be read by Apple. 

Apple iPads get new widget and multitasking tools

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Apple

iCloud Plus for privacy

[11:01 a.m. PT]

Apple’s adding a new service offering to its lineup, this time focused on privacy. The new iCloud Plus is designed to help obscure your information from the web.

For example, now it’ll create obscured email addresses for you to help keep companies from spamming you. And it’s creating a “relay” system, which hides your information as you surf the web. Apple said when you use its relay system, it’ll send internet traffic through two relay systems, obscuring your information even from Apple.

Apple said these features will be built into iCloud for the same prices it charges now. So for many people, it’s already built in when it launches likely later this year. 


Privacy, privacy, privacy

[10:56 a.m. PT]

Apple’s increasingly pushed privacy as a way to stand out from its competitors. In iOS 15, Apple said it’s going to begin obscuring IP addresses of its users — meaning that companies won’t be able to use your internet address to identify and track you.

Apple said its IP obfuscation will be on the Mail App and Safari, but it’s a good bet this will expand.

Apple also said it’s going to tell you every time an app uses other features of your iPhone. So, you might see for example how many times an app accessed your camera, microphone or address book.

And Apple said it’ll start tracking other websites and services app send data to. So, you’ll see which advertising companies an app connects with, for example. 

WWDC: Apple updates Wallet app in iOS 15 for storing driver’s licenses, hotel keys


Build apps on the iPad

[10:48 a.m. PT]

Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app started as a way to teach people how to code. But now, Apple’s making it possible to build apps too.

Apple said that with iPadOS 15, people will be able to write code, test it out and even submit apps to the App Store — all within Swift Playgrounds.

Apple still hasn’t gone the next step of adding its Xcode developer tools to the iPad, but this is definitely a move toward that. It’ll be interesting to see how developers feel about it.


Apple revamps iPad multitasking with shelves

[10:52 a.m. PT]

As the iPad’s become more powerful, it’s gotten just that much more computer-like. But it’s still more iPhone than Mac.

Though Apple isn’t going to push the iPad more into Mac-world, it is revamping the way multitasking works. With iPadOS 15, Apple said it’s adding a “shelves” feature, which will show open “windows” within an app. So, in an email app, the shelves could be your open emails or draft messages.

Apple said this’ll make multitasking much easier on the iPad. We’ll see. 

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Apple

Revamping iPad widgets

[10:40 a.m. PT]

Last year, with iOS 14, Apple added widgets to its iPhone’s homepages. This year, Apple’s doing that with the iPad too.


Now playing:
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Apple updates multitasking for iPadOS 15

2:16

 

The iPad-based widgets have a different feel too, of course. Apple said its newest widgets can be larger, making it easier to interact with them.

Apple’s also adding its “App Library” feature to the iPad. But unlike the iPhone, where you have to swipe many times to the right to get there, Apple’s adding the “App Library” to the bottom dock. 


Find My AirPods

[10:37 a.m. PT]

Apple’s AirTags offered a new way to track devices, but when it comes to Apple’s own accessories, the company’s taking it a step further. The company said AirPods will now send out a “bluetooth beacon” so that Find My network devices can help you find AirPods if you’re not near them.

And in the case of AirPods Pro, the Find My app will help you pinpoint their location just like they do with AirTags.

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Apple

Apple said it’s adding a “separation alert” to the AirPods as well, sending a notification to your phone if you leave your AirPods behind. No word yet on whether they’ll show puppy dog eyes if you’re going out for the evening and the AirPods feel left alone at home. 


Better maps

[10:39 a.m. PT]

Since launching in 2012, Apple Maps has been trying to take on Google Maps and its Waze app. This year, Apple says it’s revamping what Apple Maps looks like, with more colorful visuals and more detail like showing pedestrian walkways and turn lanes in the map as you’re driving.


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Apple Maps gets a 3D makeover in iOS 15

2:46

Apple’s also adding augmented reality to its walking directions in its Apple Maps. This is something Google’s offered for a couple years, but it’s another way Apple’s hoping to catch up. 


Better Wallet

[10:31 a.m. PT]

Apple’s Wallet app has always felt like more promise than reality. But with iOS 15, Apple’s pushing its Wallet app further — bringing corporate keycards and driver’s licenses to its app. That’s right, you can carry your ID in your iPhone. Whether you want to or not is another issue, but Apple says it’ll be encrypted and that the US TSA is already working on ways to accept it in airports.


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Add your driver’s license to Wallet with iOS 15

2:26

Apple says you’ll be able to scan in your driver’s license just by snapping a photo in the Wallet app. Here’s hoping my real-world Wallet’s days are numbered. 

You could store a digital driver’s license on your phone soon. Here’s how it works


Live Text

[10:30 a.m. PT]

Apple’s expanding its artificial intelligence technology in iOS 15, and the most dramatic way is with something it calls “Live Text.” What it does is automatically perceive what you want to do with text on the web if you click on it, or if you hold up the camera on a white board.

Apple said Live Text works with its photos app too, attaching its automatically generated photo tags to its device-wide spotlight search feature. So you can search for “beach” on Spotlight and it’ll show you photos there too, not just in the photos app. 


Now playing:
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Apple demos new Live Text for iOS 15

2:09


Fixing notifications

[10:22 a.m. PT]

Many of us are living in an avalanche of notifications on our phones, and Apple says it’s working on ways to fix that. The biggest change is something called “focus” — which allows you to decide which apps can send you notifications at specific times. And you can create a home screen to match it too.

So, for example, a “work focus” would allow email and messages apps to send you notifications, but keep Facebook quiet.

“Focus is a new way to match your device to your current mindset with focus,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s head of software engineering, said. “All you have to do is choose what you want to focus on. You can carve out time in your day for work or your personal life.” 

FaceTime gets Zoom-like with scheduled calls and Android, Windows support in browser


Share, share away

[10:16 a.m. PT]

Apple’s spent years experimenting with sharing photos, videos and music. In iOS 15, Apple said it’s building in new features to “share” a video or song in the Messages app. People will be able to share a song in Spotify, for example, and listen to it with friends at the same time.

Apple said it’s also working with Disney Plus to let you watch movies too. 

And if you receive links in a Messages conversation, now Apple will automatically add them to a list in its News app.


Apple brings FaceTime to non-iPhone users

[10:14 a.m. PT]

FaceTime is already a popular feature on Apple products, in part thanks to the fact that it’s built in by default. It also offers end-to-end encryption, something that’s helped it stand out from SMS. This year, Apple’s planning a bunch of changes for it in iOS 15. 

The biggest change is that FaceTime will work on the web, allowing people to participate in video chats if they’re using a non-Apple device. The way it works is that FaceTime users can share a link to their friends, which they then click on and then they’ll be brought to a webpage that looks similar to the FaceTime app on an iPhone. 

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Apple

It isn’t FaceTime for Android, but it’s Apple limited way of making FaceTime more open.

Apple head of software Craig Federighi, said the company’s also adding features to make it easier to participate in calls. One is called sound isolation, which cuts out background noise. Another is “spatial audio,” which is Apple’s term for surround sound. In this case, people will sound like they’re coming from different parts of a room, based on where their FaceTime tiles are shown.


Now playing:
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Apple debuts new FaceTime features for iOS 15

2:31

Finally, Apple’s adding a “portrait mode” to video — so you don’t have to look at everyone’s dirty socks in the background.

WWDC21: Apple previews iOS 15 for the iPhone


Tim Cook kicks off WWDC

[10:06 a.m. PT]

Apple’s CEO started his keynote speech for Apple’s biggest developer event by talking about what Apple’s been doing to attract more people to tech. He noted that last year, nearly 25 million people watched WWDC for free online (though he didn’t offer any comparable data from 2019).

He also noted how Apple’s hosting entrepreneurs, and supporting black and female developers.

“We are committed to being a force for change as we seek to make the world a better place full of opportunity for all of us,” he said. 


Let’s get this party started

[9:48 a.m. PT]

It’s 30 minutes until the start of WWDC and our live show, with hosts Iyaz Akhtar, Claire Reilly, Lexy Savvides and Patrick Holland, has begun.


Our previous coverage

Apple used this year’s spring event to announce the new M1 iPad Pro, a new M1-powered iMac, AirTags and a purple iPhone 12. This week we’ll learn what new things those gadgets will be able to do with Apple’s yearly torrent of free software updates: iOS 15, iPadOS 15, MacOS 12, WatchOS 8 and TVOS 15 (and maybe even HomeOS). The tech giant plans to hold its all-digital Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, online from June 7 to 11. The keynote address, which will likely be led by CEO Tim Cook, will start at 10 a.m. PT Monday. Fans and developers alike can watch online for free.

Last year, Apple announced a major change to its Mac computers, kicking off a transition in how they’re powered from Intel-made chips to chips designed by Apple’s in-house team. That group’s been building chips to power iPhones and iPads for more than a decade, and now Apple says those chips are capable enough to power computers too. So far, the new computers powered by the new M1 chip have received positive reviews for their long battery life and cooler feel. Despite the initially positive reception, industry watchers are anxious to see how those chips will power more performance-heavy computers. Apple could also use the event to announce its next-gen M2 chips.

Read more: WWDC 2021: Everything we know so far

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M1 is the marketing name for Apple’s more powerful versions of its iPhone and iPad chips for computers.


Apple

We could also learn more about the next version of MacOS, but the biggest announcement out of the event will likely be iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, the latest annual update to the company’s software for iPhones and iPads. This time around, the software update, which is usually free and released alongside new iPhones in the fall, is rumored to change additional default apps, include new ways to handle app notifications, and make its new small-app home screen widgets more interactive. (Currently they update data, but typically a tap brings you into the app instead of letting you interact just through the widget.)

Read more: iOS 15 rumors: Release date, buzzy new features, device compatibility and more

There are also rumors that the Apple Watch and its software could get new features. The Apple Watch currently can track movement, heart rate, ECG and blood oxygen levels. The next rumored step could be to add blood sugar levels.

Read more: Apple spent the last year under attack. It’ll use WWDC to rally the troops

Apple’s online-only WWDC begins June 7 at 10 a.m. PT, 1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. BST and at 3 a.m. AEST on June 8. (Sorry, Australia.) Though Apple hasn’t officially announced whether CEO Tim Cook will headline the traditional opening keynote presentation, it would be a shock if he didn’t appear. 

Last month, Cook testified at the Epic Games v. Apple trial in Oakland, California.

You’ll be able to stream Apple’s event straight from the company’s website. We here at CNET will be covering the event live, as we always do, with the real-time news, insight and analysis you can get only here.

Apple’s digital events are fast-paced and slickly produced. WWDC also tends to be a little nerdier and sillier, with Apple making jokes about its wacky marketing team coming up with names for its software. Apple also tends to make fun of software head Craig Federighi’s hair. 

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