ios 14 and its new upcoming features.

Apple announced iOS 14 onstage at WWDC 2020, giving the first look at the latest version of its software for the iPhone, and it’s bringing some super change to the iOS home screen.

In iOS 14, Apple allows widgets to be added to the main Home screen to live right alongside your apps. To add them, there’s a new “widget gallery” where users can easily add and customize widgets. There’s also a new “Smart Stack” widget that automatically shows relevant apps based on the time of day.

Apple also announced a new “App Library” view that automatically organizes apps into groups and lists. Thanks to that new App Library view, Apple allows users to now hide apps on their “main” home screen. It looks pretty similar to Android’s app drawer, but with some additional smart grouping features — like automatically pulling out all your Apple Arcade games into one batch.

Apple is adding system-wide picture-in-picture to iOS videos. Much like on macOS, videos will hover over apps and can be adjusted in size or collapsed into the side of the display to continue playing in the background. It’ll also work with FaceTime calls, too. 

Another feature Apple is launching is a new “App Clip” feature, which are speedy, card-based snippets of apps that let you access small parts of apps when you need them without requiring users to install a full app. Examples given included accessing a parking app through an NFC tag, or a coffee store’s reward program.

In iOS 14 the option to users to set their own default email and browsers, although Apple hasn’t provided too many details on how that works just yet. Siri also has a new view: instead of taking over your whole screen when you activate the digital assistant, there’s just a small overlay at the bottom of the display of the animated Siri icon. Siri can now send audio messages in addition to just dictated messages. 

Apple is also introducing a new Translate app that will be built into iOS, which — much like Google Translate — will allow users to easily translate between languages. Users will be able to enter text in or dictate messages and have them translated into 11 languages. English, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese,Korean, Arabic, Portuguese, and Russian will all be supported at launch.

In iOS 14, messages will be getting some cool features like you’ll be able to pin important contacts and conversations to the top of the Messages app to easily talk to your favorite friends or group chats. There are also new Memoji accessories, including an apt face mask option. Apple is also adding new threaded conversations in group chats and mention notifications to ping specific people in the chat.

Apple Maps is getting new, curated guides from companies like Zagat or AllTrails to give better recommendations for new places. Maps is also getting support for cycling, with dedicated directions for bike-riding that takes into account elevation, bike paths, stairs, and roads.

CarPlay is getting support for custom wallpapers and new app categories: parking apps, EV chargers, and fast food takeout apps. Apple is also adding support for NFC car keys with iOS 14, with the 2021 BMW 5 Series set to be the first to support the feature. NFC passes are stored in Apple’s Secure.

The Home app is also getting new features, including support for “Adaptive Lighting,” which allows for compatible smart lights to adjust color temperature over the course of the day, and facial recognition for HomeKit security cameras.

There’s also a host of smaller features, too. Safari on iOS 14 will now inform you if one of your passwords has been leaked in a data breach, similar to Chrome. Developers now have an option to share subscriptions through Family Sharing. Game Center is getting a new design. And there’s a new “Sleep mode” that turns on do-not-disturb, dims your phone’s screen, and shows your upcoming alarm for morning. 

iOS 14 will be out this fall, but a developer preview will be available to Apple Developer Program members starting today, with plans for a public beta for all iOS users in July. iOS 14 will work on the iPhone 6S and above devices.

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Sandeep Madhavan
London, UK