Here’s everything to expect from iOS 14 when it releases this fall
This is a big one.
Apple held its WWDC 2020 keynote yesterday, with a fully-virtual presentation of everything coming in the months ahead. The biggest change (besides no forced clapping after each product reveals from the audience) was the announcement that all Mac devices will be using Apple’s custom ARM chips within two years. Sorry Intel, you’ve been asleep at the wheel for some time now.
CEO Tim Cook went through all the announcements at a breakneck pace, and it still took just under two hours to list them all. I guess we’ll have our work cut out for us in the coming months, reporting on all the myriad changes coming to Apple’s product stacks. It was also one (if not the only) good presentation from this new normal of social distancing.
If you want to watch the whole thing to catch up, the recording is embedded below. If you’d rather get the TL;DR version, skip past the video and we’ll give you the skinny.
We’re going to cover both iOS 14 and iPadOS here. At least in the interim, Apple’s software stack is still being kept separate, until macOS comes with native iOS support due to the shared hardware components.
Here’s everything that is changing with iOS 14
There are tons of changes coming to iOS when the 14th version of the OS arrives. Some are pretty major, like homescreen widgets, and the ability to set third-party apps as defaults, and some are kinda minor, like Apple TV finally being able to stream YouTube in 4K. Here’s the full list:
- Home screen widgets: Finally iOS gets a feature that Android has had for years…
- App library: This is the iOS version of the Android App Drawer. It’s automatically curated though, so have fun trying to rearrange it
- Picture-in-picture: Yes, iOS 14 will let you watch a video over whatever else you’re doing on the device
- Third-party default apps: Oh look, another Android feature being copied. iOS 14 will let you change the default apps for opening files or links from the Apple defaults. Finally! Or not… I mean you can only change defaults for opening email and website links for now
- Siri: Apple’s voice assistant no longer takes up the whole damn screen when you’re talking to her. She also gains real-time translation for 11 languages at launch
- Google Assistant: If you were jealous of Google Pixel owners and their Active Edge feature, a similarly easy way to open Google Assistant is coming in iOS 14. You’ll be able to double-tap the back of your iPhone to start the Assistant listening (or almost anything else), part of the new Accessibility features
- Messaging: Apple’s adding some huge changes to its messaging app, including inline replies, and the ability to “@” someone without even needing to type the @. Oh, and you can customize your notifications so group chats don’t ping your phone every message
- Memoji: You’ll be able to further customize your memoji, including face masks because that’s the responsible thing to do right now
- CarKey: If your car supports it, you’ll be able to turn your key fob into a digital key that you can even share with others so you’ll never need a physical key again
- Privacy: As well as better notification of permissions that apps request at install, you’ll also get an orange dot on the status bar to show that your microphone or camera is being accessed. Approximate Location positioning will be limited to within 10 square miles
- Apple Maps: Later this year, the redesigned Apple Maps comes to the UK, Ireland, and Canada. You’ll also get cycling directions (for some larger cities), and environmentally-friendly ways to travel via turn-by-turn navigation. It’ll also let you know where traffic cameras and speed traps are located
- App Clips: These are pretty nifty, and let you use the most important parts of some apps without downloading the full app. Useful if all you want to do is pay for your drink at a coffee place
- Phone call notifications: Just like the minified Siri, phone call notifications are now being downsized to a widget alert instead of taking over your whole screen like someone standing up at the movie theater
- Emoji search: You’ll soon be able to start typing an emoji’s name and have it show up in the picker
- Camera Improvements: The default Camera app is getting some new tricks, like a guidance indicator in Night Mode that uses the gyroscope to help you steady your hand. You’ll also be able to lock down exposure compensation for all the shots you take in a camera session, helping creators get that unified look. A new hardware shortcut will let you take burst photos via the Volume Up button, and Volume Down will support QuickTake video recording on more devices
- Find My: Third-party trackers such as Tile will be able to use the Find My app, so you won’t need multiple tracking apps open all the time
- Shared App Store subscriptions: Family Groups will be able to share their App Store subscriptions, just like how they can share Apple Music
- AirPods: AirPods will auto-switch between devices without user interaction, and the AirPods Pro will get a new Spatial Audio feature that will benefit movie watchers. This sounds like the Waves system in the Audeze Mobius headset to me, but we’ll likely hear more about this before launch
- FaceTime: The eye contact correction feature that briefly arrived in iOS 13’s Beta stages is back, and it won’t be taken back out again. That uses AI to make it look like your eyes are looking at the other person on the call, instead of down at your screen.
Oh, and one last thing – any device that could run iOS 13 will be able to run iOS 14.
It doesn’t appear that iPadOS has anywhere near the number of tweaks that iOS is getting, but there are some cool changes.
- Sidebars: A new sidebar has turned up in the Photos, Files, Notes, Calendar, and Apple Music apps, making them all easier to navigate on the larger screen
- Calls: Calls will no longer take up the whole screen, with a floating notification instead. You can flick this away to hang up which sounds amazing
- Search: You can now use Search to launch apps, similar to the Windows 10 start menu
- Handwriting: The Apple Pencil brings a whole new handwritten world to iPadOS. You can write in any text box with Scribble, and have it converted to text via handwriting recognition. You can even edit handwriting as if it was text, to do things like change the color or copy it to other apps
- Apple Arcade: The biggest change here is a new Continue Playing function, so you don’t have to decide between doing your work or getting that high score
I’m sure we’ll see more to add to these lists as developers get their hands on the iOS 14 and iPadOS betas and dive into the changes. Until then, maybe it’s worth waiting until the public betas later this summer.
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