The online-only WWDC showcased some of the impressive software updates Apple have been working on. Here are all the highlights from the iOS 14 update.
iPhone’s newest update shows one of the biggest updates since iOS 7’s huge redesign. It borrows many features we’ve seen on Android, but with their own unique Apple twist. Beyond all the memes, Apple and Android stealing features from each other is a great result for the customer. Tech nerds are going to find plenty of customization options to keep them entertained, but the features won’t get in the way for others.
Widgets is the big one making the headlines. Widgets come out of the Today View panel and sit in your Home Screen among your apps. They are adjustable in size. Smart Stacks allows you to swipe through multiple widgets in one place. iOS will switch which widget is on display automatically throughout the day. Smart Stacks can be created by dragging one widget on top of another. Widgets from third-party apps will come as developers build their own, hopefully before public release. Customization is still somewhat restricted, with only a few size options and widget placement, sticking to the grid. Apple like to keep you Home Screen organised.
App Library can be found to the right of all app pages. Apple intelligently creates categories of apps with search, Suggestions and Recently Added up top. The categories aren’t customizable, as Apple hopes they can show you what you want, when and where you want it. You’ll find an alphabetical list of all your apps in the search bar. Hiding pages of apps is easy, which could be used to show or hide work or travel apps at an appropriate time.
Picture in Picture comes to the iPhone, allowing you to continue watching FaceTime, YouTube, Netflix, Apple TV+ and more videos while scrolling through your phone.
Siri gets a redesign, only taking up a small portion of the bottom of the screen, while you can continue doing what you were doing. Results appear at the top like a notification. Siri gives 20x more facts than it did three years ago and you can even ask it to send audio messages.
Calls also don’t take up the fullscreen and gets compacted to the top of the screen.
Home updates will suggest useful Automation settings. Adaptive Lighting will change the colour temperature of your bulbs throughout the day. Activity Zones alerts you only when someone moves in a specific reigon of your security camera. Face Recognition on video cameras and doorbells can notify you when someone it regonises is at the door.
Translate app helps you get by abroad, send messages to foreign speaking friends and translate entire webpages right in your browser. Translate works offline.
Messages get an overhaul. Pinned conversation, stick to the top. Group messages get inline replies and mentions, so you can choose to only be notified when mentioned, much like Slack. New Memoji hair, headwear, face covering, age options and stickers.
Maps update brings a bunch of new features such as Guides for eating, shopping, exploring and more from trust brands such as Lonely Planet, Zagat, Louis Vuitton and AllTrails. Cycling directions shows you bike lanes, paths, steep passages and stairs. Cycling will be available in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Shanghai and Beijing. EV routing will track you car’s charge, and factors in elevation and weather when suggesting you compatible charging stations along the way. Congestion and Green Zones will show on maps and provide you alternate routing options.
CarPlay now allows you to set wallpapers and supports new categories of apps: parking, EV charging and quick food ordering.
CarKey will come to iOS 13.6, letting you unlock and start your car. You can even turn off your keys remotely if you lose your phone, share access to your car and CarKey will work for up to five hours after your phone dies. Don’t expect to be able to use this feature tomorrow. This will be a slow process of cars trusting and adopting the tech. CarKey will first come to the 2021 BMW 5 Series.
AirPods fireware updates breath new life into all AirPods and AirPods Pro. These sort of updates show the benefits of a controlled ecosystem such as Apple’s.
AirPods Pro gets spacial audio using directional audio filters, based on where you and your device are positioned, to give a surround sound experience from two earbuds. Spacial audio is compatible with 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos.
Automatic switching seemlessly plays audio from the device your using. Watch a film on your iPad, then answer a call of your iPhone without switching manually.
App Clips are smaller, lighter and faster parts of an app. NFC enabled QR codes will show in/on places such as electric scooters, car parks and food recipes. Tap or point your camera at the QR code to download the App Clip to access the essential features, such as paying for parking, without downloading the full app. App Clips are down to other companies to implement the tech to be successful.
Some other features not mentioned on stage include: the stock keyboard now has emoji search, and you can set the default email and browser apps (unfortunately no word on default map or music apps yet). Back Tap is an Accessibility feature that allows you to map a double or triple tap of the back of the phone to actions, such as go to the Home Screen, Lock Screen, mute, notification centre, or use Siri Shortcuts to map it to pretty much anything such as opening the camera or activate Google Assistant. Accessibilty allows enables Sound Recognition that will notify you if it hears a noise it recognises such as a door bell, car horn or fire alarm. This is great for the hard of hearing or it you’ve got your headphones turned up.
iOS 14 is available on iPhone 6s and up, and iPod 7th generation.
Developer betas are ready to install today, with public betas coming in July. We can expect to see the public release to everyone in the fall. Find details here on all the other big announcements at WWDC 2020.