Apple officially revealed its upcoming iOS 14 mobile operating system at its WWDC 2020 conference on 22 June.
The newest version of iOS includes a number of significant updates, including redesigned widgets for Home Screen pages and various changes to the App Store.
“iOS 14 transforms the most iconic elements of the iPhone experience, starting with the biggest update we’ve ever made to the Home Screen,” said Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi.
“With beautifully redesigned widgets on the Home Screen, the App Library that automatically organizes all of your apps, and App Clips that are fast and easy to discover, iPhone becomes even more powerful and easier to use.”
Other important changes include a new compact design for incoming Facetime and phone calls, as well as Siri interactions.
iOS 14 also adds support for picture-in-picture functionality, allowing iPhone users to watch a video or take a video call while using another app.
We have outlined the major features announced for iOS 14 below.
Home Screen pages
In iOS 14, Home Screen pages can display widgets which are customised for various areas of interest, such as work, travel, and sports.
“The new widgets present timely information at a glance and can be pinned in different sizes on any Home Screen page,” Apple said.
“Users can create a Smart Stack of widgets, which uses on-device intelligence to surface the right widget based on time, location, and activity.”
“At the end of the Home Screen pages is the App Library, a new space that automatically organizes all of a user’s apps into one simple, easy-to-navigate view, and intelligently surfaces apps that may be helpful in the moment,” Apple said.
iOS 14 users can choose how many Home Screen pages to display and easily hide pages for quick access to the App Library.
App Clips are another new feature coming in iOS 14 which will enable quick functionality for applications within a certain context.
These load within seconds to complete a specific task, such as renting a scooter, purchasing a coffee, or filling a parking meter, and they can be accessed by scanning an App Clip code, NFC tag, or QR code.
App Clips can also be shared privately and securely through Messages or Safari.
Apple said that iOS 14 will bring a number of changes to the Messages app which aims to improve the ease of communication.
These new features include the ability to pin important conversations, monitor group threads, and customise conversations with images.
“Messages is central to communicating with friends and family, and now it’s easier to stay connected and quickly access important messages,” Apple said.
“Users can pin conversations to the top of their messages list, easily keep up with lively group threads through mentions and inline replies, and further customize conversations by setting a group photo using an image or emoji.”
“New Memoji options in Messages are even more inclusive and diverse with additional hairstyles, headwear, face coverings, and more,” the company said.
Apple announced a number of changes for Maps in iOS 14, including the launch of Guides and improved directions for cycling and electric vehicles.
Directions for cyclists now take into account elevation and the busyness of streets, while electric vehicles routing considers the location of charging stops on the way, as well as the types of chargers available and their compatibility with your vehicle.
The Guides feature provides information on popular places within certain areas and aim to help travellers find interesting places.
“Guides are a great way to discover hot new restaurants, find popular attractions, and explore new recommendations from respected brands, including AllTrails, Complex, The Infatuation, Time Out Group, and The Washington Post, among others,” Apple said.
Privacy and other features
iOS 14 will include a number of privacy improvements that restrict the amount of information available to third-party applications.
“All apps will now be required to obtain user permission before tracking,” Apple said.
“Later this year, App Store product pages will feature summaries of developers’ self-reported privacy practices, displayed in a simple, easy-to-understand format.”
“In addition, users can upgrade existing accounts to Sign in with Apple, choose to share their approximate location with app developers rather than their precise location when granting an app location access, and get even more transparency into an app’s use of the microphone and camera,” the company said.
In addition to the features listed above, Apple said that iOS 14 will include the following improvements:
- Translate – Support for 11 languages and on-device translation.
- Siri – Support for audio message sending and on-device keyboard dictation.
- Home app – New automation suggestions and expanded controls, adaptive lighting support for compatible lights, and more.
- AirPods – Allows seamless switching between Apple devices.
- Digital car keys – Support for NFC digital keys and sharing of digital car keys through Messages.
- Find My iPhone – Support for third-party products and accessories.
- Safari – New Privacy Report lets users see which website trackers have been blocked and monitor breached credentials.
- Health – New features to help users monitor and improve sleep, hearing health, and more.
- Weather – Minute-by-minute and next-hour rain forecasts.
- Accessibility – Headphone amplification, sign language detection for Group FaceTime, VoiceOver screen reader support.
The developer preview of iOS 14 is available to Apple Developer Programme members today and can be downloaded from the iOS 14 Preview page.