2020 is the first year that Apple’s WWDC or World Wide Developer Conference wasn’t held in front a large physical audience. This time, digital only using a familiar format but making use of the vast Apple campus and some pretty swanky transitions. A lot was discussed and previewed; the $100 million initiative to combat racism and investing in education and criminal justice reform.
The biggest news to come out of WWDC 2020 is definitely iOS 14, the upcoming operating system for iPhone with some new design features. Now, there are elements Android users will be familiar with, but this doesn’t mean that Apple shouldn’t be able to include them too and here are some of the ones we are most excited for:
Redesigned Home Screen
An iPhone home screen was only as configurable as moving/removing apps around the screen and subsequent pages. Now though, the home screen supports widgets, meaning you can get more information at a glance that you could ever before. Yes, it isn’t anything new when you look over to the other ecosystems but for Apple users this is pretty big.
Simply drag a widget from the ‘Today’ view and place it on the home screen. Pin or resize to your hearts content and if you like having different information fed to you at different times of the day you can try out the ‘Smart Stack’ feature which will use on-device intelligence to push the right widget based on time, location, and activity.
Digital car key
Your iPhone pretty much is everything you want it to be; a phone, a camera, a credit card so why not let it also be your car keys? You can register your car key in the Apple Wallet, (only if you own the new BMW 5-Series for now, with more models being added) and when you walk up to it, you can unlock via NFC. Rest the phone on its pad on the centre console, start the car and you are good to go. With that, users are able to set specific driving profiles with certain restrictions if needed.
What if your battery runs out, I hear you call out? Well Apple have thought about that too, the phone will still be able to unlock the car for up to five hours after you hit 0%, plenty of time to get back in the car and give the phone some juice.
Swipe right to the very last page on an iPhone with iOS 14 and it opens the new App library. Similar to an Android app drawer, this is where you can see all of your apps at a glance. The apps are organised into folders by category and the phone will suggest a collection in the top left whilst the most recently added apps will in the folder to the top right.
This means the home screen cleaner can be kept cleaner and all the apps can kept in the app library rather than spread out over numerous pages.
Siri has had an overhaul to bring it up to the standards of 2020. Given a more compact design, popping up as a swirling globe rather than the full page as before. It has more answers too, stated as having over 20X more than it did three years ago so expect better answers to those trivial questions we all ask our ‘virtual assistants’. Another great thing Siri has added is that it can now send voice messages directly.
Elements including calls, FaceTime and Siri among others are now more compact, showing up as button notifications rather than the whole screen as it used to. Picture in picture has also been added to give you more freedom when you are on a FaceTime call but you need to check your calendar before accepting the invitation to a bbq.
Apple Maps has been constantly improving over the years to claw back users from Google Maps and in iOS 14 it is going green. Own an electric car? Well Apple Maps has you covered. Input the type of electric car you drive and it will plan the route with compatible chargers along the way.
Maybe you prefer taking a bicycle… Apple Maps has that covered too. It takes elevation changes into account and alerts you if you are set for a sweaty uphill battle or an easy flat cruise. It also gives you the option to avoid busy roads when picking a route. If you are visiting a new city, Maps has also thrown in a new feature called ‘Guides’ which offers curated content showing you where to eat, shop and explore.
Translate offers conversation between two people in 11 languages. Simply turn your phone into landscape mode and hit the microphone in the middle and the app will listen before translating to the desired language and playing audio.
Sometimes it is difficult for people to understand your phone in a busy, noisy environment so Apple has added the attention mode which shows the enlarged translation to get a person’s attention.
Have you ever tried to read something on the go and you are directed to the app store to download the app? The team that developed iOS 14 were aware of how frustrating that is and added app clips. This allows you to interact with apps to a certain extent without needing to download it. You can rent a scooter, order a coffee and pay for parking without needing to download the full app.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the features in iOS 14, as there have been changes to Messages, Memoji, health app, privacy, Home and more. You can find the full list here.
iOS 14 will be available in Autumn and the list of compatible phones are iPhone 11 series, XS series, XR, X, 8 series, 7 series, 6S series and iPhone SE.