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June 9, 2021 by Garrett Denney

Apple’s WWDC 2021: Day One Recap

Catch up on the biggest announcements from Apple’s annual event and what it means for the enterprise, education, healthcare organizations and more.

It’s one of the biggest weeks of the year for Apple IT admins: WWDC. The opening keynote did not disappoint. Following an unprecedented year of remote work and learning, this year’s sessions showcased digital collaboration and privacy, two key themes with which IT admins have been grappling. And, Apple did it all digitally, only the second time they have delivered a fully remote WWDC event.

Virtually together

A common thread among the software and hardware updates was enhanced collaboration. No matter where you are, the new operating systems and features are all about making us feel like we are together in the same room. These enhancements will be critical as we transition into hybrid environments, where some end-users may be in the office/school while others are at home. Enhanced collaboration means better employee productivity and improved multitasking functionality delivers new ways for teams to be productive on the device of their choosing.

Security no matter where you are

As a result of its growth in the enterprise, Apple devices are now a bigger security threat target. This, coupled with remote work and schools accessing sensitive cloud resources, enhanced the demand for even greater Apple platform security. And with enhanced security comes the need to balance data privacy protections and the end-user experience across a number of contexts. New privacy-centric features like Hide My Email and Private Relay put user privacy at the forefront, enabling privacy protection regardless of where devices are being used.

New Operating Systems

One of the biggest highlights of WWDC each year are the new versions of Apple’s operating systems: iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Apple took the wraps off updated versions of each, and showcased a number of changes that improve organizational security, better protect end-user privacy, and enable remote collaboration and learning like never before.

iOS 15

Leading the keynote was Apple’s latest take on iOS. The popular mobile operating system gained new features that supercharge remote productivity and promote a healthy digital balance practice, all starting with iPhone.

FaceTime

Staying in touch with coworkers, instructors, and family has never been more critical. Taking communication to new heights, Apple is adding to FaceTime, the popular video messaging app.

  • Group FaceTime is streamlining the way users remotely huddle with colleagues or fellow students. New participant views, the ability to pre-schedule FaceTime calls, and calendar syncing make FaceTime a compelling option for enterprise and education organizations looking for an Apple-native virtual calling solution.

  • FaceTime is also improving the user experience, no matter where you take a FaceTime call. Spatial audio adds fuller, more natural sound making it more comfortable and lifelike for the end-user, while voice isolation leverages machine learning to automatically block out ambient noise and focuses only on your voice. If you’ve ever taken a call from a cafe, airport or even your home with others around you, you know how valuable this will be.

Focus

Achieving a work-life or school-life balance is tough, and even more so during an unprecedented year filled with remote work and learning. To help organizations promote healthy balance, Focus gives end-users more control over how they prioritize time and attention.

Users create personalized modes - like “work” or “home” - that put relevant apps and notifications front and center. During the day, a user can activate their “work” Focus, highlighting work-related apps on the Home Screen and helping them be more productive by minimizing distractions. After work hours, the user can switch Focus to “home” and hide work-related notifications and apps, promoting better holistic health and prioritizing rest and recovery during off-hours.

iOS 15 is also adding Live Text, a new technology that can capture and analyze written content in real-time using iPhone’s camera. This powerful feature uses advanced algorithms and processing to make it a breeze to translate a document or transfer writing from a whiteboard to a shared Pages document. IT admins are going to love the productivity gains that this new technology unlocks.

Finally, iOS 15 brings a new capability to Wallet: keys. With this addition later this year, Wallet will be able to act as a digital key for office and home doors. Workers choosing a hybrid lifestyle can leave their old keychain on the dresser and instead use iPhone to access both their office and home. Wallet is also adding support for digital state identification cards - like a driver's license - in participating states later this year.

iPadOS 15

iPad is taking productivity to a new level with this latest OS, making it an even more compelling option for schools and businesses by doubling down on multitasking with a range of options to work between multiple apps at once, arranging views to suit your workflow and provide the latest, relevant information to you, right on your Home Screen.

  • App Library is coming to iPad! Previously only available on iOS, App Library is an intuitive way and now on iPadOS! Users have more control over their Home Screen and can easily hide unneeded app icons without deleting them from the device.
  • Quick Notes are a new way to jot a quick note to yourself during a meeting or call. Using an Apple Pencil, simply swipe up from the lower corner of the screen and start writing. Quick Notes are stored for later review and action.
  • Shelf holds all of the open documents or windows for an app. Switching back and forth between windows is a snap, even allowing users to open or close a window with a single tap.
  • Widgets are now available on the Home Screen for iPad for the first time, allowing users to customize their displays.
  • Translate is a new feature that makes a translator just a tap away. Convert written text, typed text, or spoken word automatically and on the device, making it faster and more secure than ever. This is a big benefit to organizations working across languages.

macOS Monterey

The next iteration of macOS has further refined the look and feel introduced in Big Sur and emphasized collaboration in powerful new ways.

Included among the new additions, are many of the same ones introduced earlier in iOS 15, such Focus, SharePlay and Live Text. macOS specific features include changes to shared documents and collections of photos in Messages and a streamlined & redesigned Safari experience, the introduction of Universal Control for macOS and many more:

  • Universal Control unites Mac and iPad for a truly enterprise-level work experience. Building on the success of Project Sidecar - launched in 2019 - Universal Control lets you use a single mouse across Mac and iPad devices near each other. Drag and drop files across the devices or use multiple screens to be more productive than ever.
  • Safari features a redesigned tab layout that lends itself to better focus when working with multiple tabs. Power users often have many tabs open at once. With Tab groups, users can save and organize tabs in a way that adapts to their needs. Furthermore, groups can sync across Apple devices for added usability.
  • AirPlay to Mac gives workers and students another way to share content and collaborate with others. Find a photo, website or document on an iOS or iPadOS device before sharing it to Mac with AirPlay.

Security and Privacy

Many users choose Apple because of the company’s continued support for privacy as a fundamental human right. At WWDC, Apple doubled down on privacy and security as key pillars upon which their software and hardware are built.

  • iCloud Private Relay helps better protect end-users by limiting user profiling when browsing the web with Safari. This happens by routing traffic through two separate relays so that no one - not even Apple - can see the user’s IP address.
  • Mail Privacy Protection: Hides your IP address and location from malicious actors. Effectively blocks senders from seeing if or when messages are opened.
  • Hide My Email uses unique, randomized addresses to forward mail to your inbox so your real email address is never shared.
  • App Privacy Report empowers end-users with better visibility into whether apps are collecting their data and how it is being used.
  • Recording indicator is an improvement to Control Center that provides a clear signal when apps are accessing your mic and/or recording your screen. In a world where working from home is here to stay, a clearer indication about when a microphone is active is a big benefit to users.

Next Steps

WWDC is one of the most exciting times of year for Apple IT leaders. From increased privacy standards to new ways to enable collaboration, there was something for everyone - at work and in the classroom - at this year’s event.

We can’t wait to get our hands on macOS Monterey, iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and tvOS 15 later this year. Rest assured: when Apple makes them available, Jamf will once again be ready with same-day support to ensure you succeed with Apple in your organization.

Join us in watching the rest of the WWDC sessions this week on the Apple Developer portal. We’ll post additional updates as we learn more about how these new and innovative changes will help enterprise and education IT admins.

View resources about how to best manage OS upgrades

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