Everything Apple Announced at WWDC 2021: iOS, iPadOS, macOS, AirPods Update

For years, the iPad has been a beloved tool in the creative community, with apps for drawing, editing photos, and working with audio. But for so-called knowledge workers—folks who spend most of their days writing emails and working in documents—the iPad hasn’t been a very welcoming working environment, with half-baked app switching controls and inelegant multitasking tools. These shortcomings were noted in our recent review of the new iPad Pro. Today, Apple showed that it’s working to correct those pitfalls.

With its next update, iPadOS will get a multitasking menu that appears at the top of the screen. Using the tiny pop-up menu, you can take apps fullscreen, create a split view with multiple apps, or slide windows over to the side of the screen to access the home screen, all with one or two taps. Switching between apps in the split view is now accomplished with just a couple of swipes. These actions will also work with keyboard shortcuts—a boon for knowledge workers who pair their iPad with a Smart Keyboard for use as a laptop replacement.

Other updates: The Notes app gets more collaborative, with the ability to see recent changes, and the ability to tag your coworkers in a shared document. Widgets get an update in iPadOS, with new larger widgets, and new actions that make it easier to organize and manage widgets on the home screen. The Translate app is also getting a boost on the iPad, with real-time spoken language translations, and the added ability to translate text across all of your apps, web pages, Messages—everything on the system. Something really unique: You can use Translate to practice handwriting with Apple Pencil, so if you want to brush up on your Japanese kanji, here’s your shot.

WatchOS 8

New mental health features and some photo enhancements are headed to the Apple Watch.

Photograph: Apple

Your constant companion, the Apple Watch, can’t pat your back and tell you to put your head between your knees when you’re having a panic attack. But it’s doing its best to chill you out with some new meditative features. Now the Breathe app has a more absorbing animation. A new Reflect feature feeds you feel-good prompts, like to be thankful for something you love, or remind yourself of something that gives you joy (seashells!). The sleep-tracking system introduced to watchOS last year now also has new ways to measure different sleep goals, like measuring your respiratory rate.

Continuing on the meditative trend, Apple’s Fitness+ service now includes a tai chi workout to reduce stress, as well as artist spotlight workouts from artists like Keith Urban that are bound to increase the user base. A new celebrity trainer, Jeanette Jenkins, has also joined the Fitness+ workout team as an added attraction.

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