New Apple Features Include 'Universal Control'

Company unveils changes at virtual conference
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2021 5:50 PM CDT
New Apple Features Include 'Universal Control'
The Apple logo is displayed on a Mac Pro desktop computer, Friday, May 21, 2021, in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Apple announced out a slew of new features at its annual developers' conference Monday, including what it calls "Universal Control." The feature will allow users to move content between multiple devices, including iPads, using a single keyboard and mouse, CNET reports. The new features unveiled on the first day of the Worldwide Developers Conference, which is being held virtually for the second year in a row, will be part of the iOS15, macOs Monterey, watchOS 8, and iPadOS 15 upgrades expected to be rolled out this fall. More highlights:

  • FaceTime upgrades. TechCrunch reports that Apple is adding several new features to FaceTime, including spatial audio, which will spread out the voices of friends depending on their position on the screen. Friends can also listen to music together in "SharePlay"—and people will no longer need an Apple device to join a FaceTime call.
  • A "force for change." "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," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in his keynote speech, outlining the company's efforts to attract more people, including Black and female entrepreneurs, to the tech sector.

  • New privacy tools. In a move that the Wall Street Journal predicts will deliver another blow to the digital marketing industry, Apple says it is bringing in new features to allow users to control how third parties use their data, including the ability to hide IP addresses to stop Internet activity being tracked on the Safari browser. People using the paid version of the iCloud storage service will also be able to hide their real email addresses.
  • Virtual government IDs. In participating states, users will soon be able to store their government IDs on their iPhone, Reuters reports. Apple says it is working with the TSA to have the virtual IDs accepted at airports.
  • "Live Text." Apple's new "Live Text" feature will use AI to read text in photos, allowing users to do things like turn handwritten notes into emails. James Vincent at the Verge notes that similar features are already available from companies including Google and Samsung, "but Apple’s implementation does look typically smooth."
  • Zuckerberg won't be happy. Steve Kovach at CNBC predicts that the new communication features will have the CEO's "blood boiling" at Facebook headquarters. "In effect, these new features build a closed-off social network for Apple, letting you share Apple News stories, Apple Music tracks and even hold FaceTime video chats with non-iPhone users," making Apple even more of a rival to Facebook, he writes.
  • Will the new features work on your device? The Verge lists all the Apple devices that will support the new software, which does not include some of the models that supported last year's Big Sur macOS upgrade.
(More Apple stories.)

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