Apple kicked off its second annual All-Virtual Developer Conference with a keynote that showcased new updates to its software for iPhones and other devices. The presentation highlighted more privacy options for paid iCloud accounts and a “Find My” service that finds stray AirPods, but didn’t include any major product announcements.
The latest renovations to Apple’s $ 2 trillion empire come at a pivotal time for the Cupertino, Calif., Company. Apple faces legal and regulatory threats to its control over its App Store, a so-called “walled garden” that generates substantial profits for the company.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, and other executives described software updates for Apple’s many devices, including its MacBooks, iMac, iPhone, iPad and Watch.
Apple’s new macOS software, dubbed Monterey, supports what Apple calls “universal control,” which allows users to use a mouse and keyboard to control an iMac desktop computer, MacBook laptop, and an iPad at the same time.
Forrester analyst Julie Ask said enhancements Apple touted, such as “universal control,” play on Apple’s strengths in the mix of its products and services.
“Today’s news was nothing ‘new new’ like the holy cow, how did they make that happen,” she said. “But each of us picks up our phones 100 or 200 times a day, and they make 100 little moments a day better, smoother, and easier.”
She pointed to Apple’s plan to support digital identifiers, including driver’s licenses and state identifiers of “participating US states” in its digital wallet, as another example. Apple hasn’t identified which states will include.
“They have an army of people trying to get these agreements signed,” she said. “Apple gets a lot of criticism for being so controlling. But they can do things that other big brands struggle to do.
A “Live Text” feature in iOS 15 will allow you to highlight text in photos and copy and paste it or search for it online. It will also integrate Air Pods into its “Find My” service, which helps people find lost or misplaced Apple products.
Apple is introducing more privacy features into its paid iCloud plans, including a way to hide your email address, encrypt video, and a Safari’s “Private Relay” feature that encrypts web browser data in the same way as a VPN.
The prices of the paid plans do not change. Users pay for any iCloud storage greater than the free 5GB storage that users get for free. In the US, these plans start at $ 1 per month for 50 GB of storage.
Apple hasn’t announced when iOS 15 will be available, but the company has traditionally released free updates for all compatible iPhones in September.
AP tech journalist Michael Liedtke contributed to this article from San Ramon, California.