Earlier this month, Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) ran as a virtual event for the second year in a row, presenting yet another immaculately produced keynote video.
Last year, we were thrilled to see Apple’s move to their own chipset – the Apple M1. This development opened up a new world of opportunities for developing Mac apps to provide better battery life and improved performance and on a chipset smaller in size than Intel and other competitors.
This year, with rumours flying about a next-generation MacBook Pro, privacy updates, and more, we couldn’t wait to see what Apple would announce and what that would mean for us as developers.
Here are our top takeaways from Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote:
Focus on privacy
This year, Apple zoned in on privacy, aiming to position themselves ahead of Google.
With iOS 14, Apple required apps like Facebook to get permission to “track” users across apps and websites for advertising and measurement purposes through its AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework. As a result of these changes, advertisers running campaigns to iOS 14.5 and later users were impacted by limitations on data sharing.
The most significant update on privacy with iOS 15? Mail. It’s been a long-running practice to hide invisible 1x1 pixel images that track details about when people open their emails. When a device downloads an image, the server can gather data like the device’s IP address when it connects to the server to download that image.
Apple is now bringing this privacy feature into its built-in Mail app. While it’s great for the average user, marketers may need to check how they track open and read metrics.
Siri just got smarter
In 2020, there were 4.2 billion digital voice assistants being used in devices around the world. By 2024, the number of digital voice assistants will reach 8.4 billion units – a number higher than the world’s population.
In line with new privacy features, Apple announced several improvements to its digital assistant, Siri. With this update in iOS 15, Siri can do a lot more learning and language processing on-device rather than the cloud. This means simple requests like “set a timer for 30 seconds” will happen faster and more privately as it’s happening offline, and your voice won’t go anywhere to be processed.
On top of this, Apple is finally allowing third-party device manufacturers to add a voice-activated assistant to their hardware like thermostats. You still need to have at least one HomePod to route the Siri conversations through, but at least you won’t need a HomePod in every room to talk to Siri.
Apple’s new “VPN”
Apple loves that plus sign. At WWDC 2021, Apple introduced iCloud+. The updated cloud storage service will now come with access to a VPN, burner email addresses, and unlimited storage for HomeKit-enabled home security cameras.
The VPN, called Private Relay, will route your internet traffic through two relays to mask who’s browsing and where that data is coming from. That second relay prevents any one party, including Apple, from seeing all of your browsing data, Apple said.
The burner email feature, called Hide My Email, lets you create single-use email addresses that will forward to your actual account to help you cut down on spam.
While you currently need to pay for at least 200GB of iCloud storage to record video from one HomeKit-enabled security camera, and you need to pay for a higher tier to support more streams – the rest is unlimited!
Canadian representation at the Apple Design Awards
Every year Apple highlights some of the best apps and games of the past 12 months. This year, among big titles like Genshin Impact, Alba, and League of Legends: Wild Rift, a few Canadian gems are included in this year’s list of winners.
George Batchelor’s Canadian-made Bird Alone took home the Apple Design Award for ‘Interaction’ for its clever notification in integration, unique graphics, and music that shifts based on real-world factors.
Pok Pok Playroom, a child-focused spin-off of Toronto-based Snowman, also won the design award for ‘Delight and Fun.’
For more on the Apple Design Award winners, check out Mobile Syrup’s post.
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