One of the most-awaited announcements of every WWDC conference is the next iteration of iOS. This year Apple announced iOS 14 with loads of new, long-overdue features.
Among the new features are widgets for the home screen, the App library, picture-in-picture, and app clips.
Proper widgets are finally coming to iOS 14, with the ability to integrate them onto your home screen. These come in a variety of sizes, which you can place according to your liking. Apple says it learned from the way apps work on the Apple watch. You can also stack the widgets so they take up less space on your Home screen.
There’s a specific Widget Gallery where you can find these on your phone. Currently, there only native iOS apps with widgets appearing on the Home screen. However, with third-party apps already available as widgets, it can be assumed making them available on the Home screen will be a capability open to developers.
Another new feature introduced in iOS 14 is the App Library. This automatically groups your apps according to type. For example, all your social apps would appear in one folder. The App Library is present at the end of your home screens.
Due to the addition of this feature, you can now hide specific groups of apps that you don’t want on your Home screen, but they’l stilll appear in the App Library.
Apple has introduced various small interface changes that will make a big impact on device usage. For instance, the interface of an incoming call has changed. Instead of taking up the entire screen, iOS now shows a small notification on the top of the screen.
If you don’t want to pick up the call, you can simply flick it away and continue using your phone. The phone call will finish with you not having to decline it.
Another feature called Back Tap allows you to navigate through phone menus by tapping on the back of your device. You can set it up for two or three taps, and shortcuts can also be set up.
Apple will also allow you to change the default apps that your phone uses for email and web browsing. You can now set up Google Chrome or Gmail to be your default app instead of Safari and Mail.
Picture-in-Picture allows you to keep watching video while using other apps. For example, you can reply to a text message or email while watching a TV show. It’s a small but welcome addition.
Apple allows you to use an app without having to download the entirety of a hefty app. You can use just specific features of apps instead.
For example, if an app can get you a discount at a restaurant, you can use App Clip to just download the feature required for the discount. Apple is calling these “light and fast,” and you access them via a card that pops up at the bottom of your screen. Later on, you can choose to download the full app directly from the App Clip instead of having to go to the App Store.
Siri has been redesigned for iOS 14, and now the voice assistant won’t take up the entirety of your screen. Instead, the reactions from Siri will just appear as small notifications on the top of the phone. Apple claims that Siri is now more intelligent and useful than before and that it will provide more accurate translations. Siri can now also send audio messages for the first time.
The Messages app now has the option to pin conversations to the top of the screen. For character customizations, Memoji now has 20 new hair and headwear styles for you to choose from. Face coverings are also included (for a true 2020 look).
Group chats have improved, too. There are now inline replies for specific messages as well as @mentions for individuals which works like Whatsapp and Slack.
Apple has also included some other upgrades to iOS 14:
- Apple Maps now includes Guides, editorial content about a place. Similarly, the app will also let you know quiet lanes for cycling in some specific cities (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and some cities in China for now).
- Apple Carplay will allow you to unlock your compatible car through your iPhone with “digital keys.” Currently, this is specifically for the upcoming 2021 BMW 5 series but should also come to other car models soon.
- All apps will require permission from you before tracking your location. Similarly, you can choose to share your approximate rather than exact location with apps.
- Safari will allow you to see the ad trackers that are attached to any website that you browse.
- For hearing-impaired users, you’ll now be able to set up your iPhone to listen for specific sounds. (For example, a fire alarm or a siren. If the phone hears the noise, it’ll notify the user.)
For all those wondering if their device will be able to run iOS 14, here’s the official list of compatible devices:
- iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus and iPhone SE (first generation)
- iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X
- iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR
- iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone SE (second generation)
The iOS 14 Beta is currently available for developers. A public beta will most probably be released somewhere in the middle to end of July. Apple hasn’t officially announced a release date for iOS 14, but based on past experiences, it’s expected to be released somewhere around mid-September alongside the next iPhone. Stay tuned for more details.
Alongside iOS 14 / iPadOS 14, Apple also announced a host of new changes for its latest iteration of macOS – macOS Big Sur.