In a first ever, Apple held a 100% digital version of WWDC, bringing welcome improvements across all of the company’s platforms.
CEO Tim Cook began the conference, taking the opportunity to address the major issues the world is facing, especially racial inequality and the coronavirus pandemic. Cook pointed out that it was more important than ever for Apple to continue to innovate, supporting its users and being a positive force for change.
He then turned the program over to Craig Federighi to highlight some of the changes to iOS
iOS 14 Home Screen
Federighi immediately launched into some of the biggest changes coming in iOS 14, including an improved Home Screen.
The iOS Home Screen has remained largely unchanged over the years, adding only incremental improvements, such as Folders. With iOS 14, Apple’s mobile OS finally offers substantial improvements to the Home Screen, giving users the option to hide entire pages of apps. In their place, iOS has an App Library view that automatically groups apps according to category, and makes recommendations based on usage.
iOS 14 also includes the ability to add widgets directly to the Home Screen, with apps rearranging around them.
Apple is bringing one of the most popular features of the iPad to the iPhone in iOS 14, namely PiP. The feature will work similarly to its larger counterpart, letting users watch videos while working on other apps.
Siri receives some welcome upgrades as well. First and foremost is on-device dictation. Un previous versions, every interaction with Siri requires internet connectivity. While searches will still require an internet connection, dictation will be done entirely on the iPhone.
Siri also benefits from a streamlined interface, displaying as a small bubble at the bottom of the screen, rather than taking up the entire view.
Apple is unveiling its own translation software, but with a typical Apple flair. The software will automatically keep up with who is saying what, translate and display the results accordingly.
Messages includes some major upgrades, including inline replying and mentions. Users can set their group message notification settings to only notify them when they are directly mentioned in the thread.
Another welcome benefit is the ability to pin conversations to the top of the list, making it easier to refer back to popular or important threads.
Maps has been upgraded to include information for cyclists, including where they will have to deal with stairs, and giving them the option of avoiding stairs altogether.
Maps will also include information to help electric vehicle owners to find charging stations and plan their trips accordingly.
CarPlay is getting a major new feature that will allow an iPhone to lock/unlock and start a compatible car.
CarPlay will use NFC to create a digital car key that is securely stored on the iPhone. Additional keys can be created and shared with others, so someone else can access the vehicle if needed. The feature will also be brought to iOS 13.