24 June 2020
The much-awaited WWDC 2020 keynote is currently underway and Apple has kicked off major announcements with iOS 14. It is the latest iteration of the operating system that will embrace the upcoming iPhone 12 series and many of the current-gen and older iPhone models. There are numerous changes as expected with focus on improving the user experience of getting things done.
The first major change coming with iOS 14 is App Gallery. It is Apple's way of helping you find the app you are looking for in a faster and efficient manner. It is basically an auto-collection of apps into different categories like Apple Arcade, Social, Entertainment, and Creativity. There are two additional categories Suggestions and Recent that offer app suggestions and recently installed apps respectively. The whole approach is similar to what various Android launchers have been offering for many years.
Apple has been offering widgets within Today View for quite some time but with iOS 14, Apple is bringing widgets directly to the home screen. It means if you want a particular widget(s) to be accessible all the time without having to reach for Today View, you will be able to do so. These widgets will be available through a newly added "widget gallery" that will help users browse and manage widgets.
iOS 14 brings system-wide picture-in-picture (PiP) mode to all the eligible iPhones in the world. It will simply allow users to keep watching their favorite videos while using some other app at the same time. The mode will turn the full-screen video player into a small, resizable, and movable window that will layover home screen and over any app that you may have opened. There are quick playback controls to play/pause the video without having to exit the mode.
If you want to focus fully on a particular app without having to stop the video, you can tuck away the PiP mode player in a corner. This will make the video player disappear but will keep the audio playing the background.
Siri is also receiving a visual improvement that will make it less intrusive. In other words, triggering Siri will not take the whole screen of your iPhone. It will simply show a small animation at the bottom and event the Siri results will be shown in a small form factor. The latter will be helpful when you are using Siri while also using an app.
Apple is offering a new Translate application that works similar to Google Translate. It supports 11 languages for now and these are English, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Portuguese, and Russian. It will offer real-time translation for supported languages along with the ability to check how it will be spoken. And yes, all the translation will happen locally on the device.
Messages has been the best messaging app available for iPhone users since its early days. It is now receiving new features that will improve the conversation experience. If you have too many chats on the app but want to focus on a few of them, it is now possible to pin chats so that they stay at top even if other chats receive new messages. These pinned chats will appear as big circles at the top similar to how Stories work on social media apps.
For Group messages, Apple is adding support for sending in-line replies as well as mentioning users. The latter is where users can choose to get notified of new messages only if they are mentioned. This will be helpful in scenarios where certain people in the group are having a conversation but everyone is also receiving notifications for all those messages.
Apple has spent months revamping Apple Maps and making it usable. It is now taking it to the next level with a focus on helping users find locations quickly and with relevant data. Guides is a new feature that will offer important information curated by real people about a particular location. All of the Guides data will get updated automatically as and when someone will add something new. Apple Maps will now show routes dedicated to cycling. It will help cyclists check bike lanes, paths, and roads along with elevation data, stairs, elevation, and traffic.
One interesting iOS 14 feature is App Clips which is essentially a clip/snippet of the app. It looks like a card but is dedicated to the specific functionality of the app and appears automatically whenever a user needs it. The best part is that an app clip works without having to install the app itself.