(Pocket-lint) - No one could have predicted what 2020 would bring. The spread of the pandemic forced people into isolation, it broke up offices and working spaces, it cleaved a divide into social society that people weren't prepared for.
Technology quickly stepped into the breach, closing that divide and bringing people back together. There was one clear victor in this upended world: Zoom.
Zoom's success was meteoric. With a combination of free access, plenty of features and cross-platform convenience, Zoom became a byword for video chat, from individual friends, to groups, education, conferences and business.
Microsoft and Google were wrong footed, with Skype and Teams, or Hangouts and Meet, being a step behind and there was a rapid scramble to present useful products - but it was clear that everyone was following Zoom's lead.
Apple wasn't even part of this conversation.
At WWDC 2021, Apple announced a slew of updates to its FaceTime application, which read off like a checklist of Zoom features - background blurring, background noise cancellation, cross-platform support through browsers, ability to use invite links for scheduled meets, a grid view, and more.
Apple of course sprinkled some special sauce on FaceTime that you won't get elsewhere, like Spatial Audio and SharePlay (although watch parties have been widely supported elsewhere), just to make it a little more exciting.
It's a collection of features that would have been very welcomed in 2020 when video calling was enjoying its boom, but Apple users will be waiting until September 2021 before these features are rolling out.
Although a date hasn't been fully confirmed for the new features, Apple highlights them as part of iOS 15, the new version of its software that we'd expect to see launch with the launch of the next iPhone.
That's a full 18 months after the balloon first went up and Zooming became our new hero.
These new FaceTime features aren't arriving in a timely fashion to address the situation that gave rise to them - they totally missed the boat.
One defence might be that FaceTime is a consumer application, but that didn't stop Google updating Duo with similar features over a year ago.
What this really highlights is the limitation of having core app updates tied into the software version. While Apple's update record is the envy of many platforms - Android especially - in this situation it's not working for its users, it's hampering them.
While Apple will roll out iOS 15 to iPhone 6S and newer models in one massive dump, we can't help feeling that some of these features should have appeared when they were really needed.