Apple’s first ever virtual keynote was a huge one. Apple has made several massive changes to iOS14, macOS (now called Big Sur) and Safari. It also announced its moving on from Intel, with custom processors for Mac. There’s a lot to unpack, so without further ado, here’s a quick look at what’s new from WWDC20.
Home Screen: Users can now have widgets right in the home screen. There’s also a ‘smart stack’ that uses on-device intelligence to pick the widget based on time/location. There’s also a new ‘App Library’ view that automatically categorises apps. You can also hide pages you don’t want to view.
New Siri & Call Interface: Calls and Siri no longer take up the whole screen (yaaay!). They now appear like notifications at the top of the screen, and can be swiped away. Siri also gets an animation, before opening the requested app/info.
App Clips: There’s no more need to download an entire app, you can now complete a singular task through a Clip (like ordering food, unlocking a bike). Clips can be accessed through NFC, QR codes and social media.
Messages: You can now pin messages in iOS14/iPadOS14 and macOS Big Sur. Group threads can be customised with a photo/emoji. Just like WhatsApp, you get in-line replies. New Memoji customisations options coming.
Maps: Maps is getting support for cycling and electric vehicles. There’s also a ‘Curated Guides’ section for travellers.
CarKey: Users can lock/unlock and start their cars with digital car keys from the Wallet app. Keys can be shared, and disabled via iCloud. Currently, support is with NFC, but Apple is working to bake its ultra wideband tech into the feature in the future.
Find My: Apple’s Find My app will now support third party accessories like Tile. Further details are yet to be announced, but it seems this will work through iCloud.
Picture in Picture: Apple is finally bringing PiP support for the iPhone. Just like the iPad, it will work across all apps and the home screen. Users will be able to hide the video and have the audio continue playing if they want.
Universal Search: The iPad is getting a universal search option, just like macOS. Users can search for apps, contact info, answers to questions through Safari and more straight from a new macOS-like search interface.
Redesigned Sidebars: The iPad is also taking a cue from the Mac’s sidebars. New sidebars are available in Photos, Files, Notes, Calendar, and Apple Music to consolidate navigation options.
Toolbars: Yup another macOS-inspired design choice. iPadOS14 includes new “streamlined toolbars and new pull-down menus provide access to app controls all in one place.”
Handwriting: If you love Scribble on watchOS, Apple brought the feature to the iPad with the Apple Pencil (English and Simplified Chinese only for now). Scribble works in any text field across all apps. Smart Selection can now also recognise handwriting, so you can select, copy and paste handwriting as text into another app. It can also recognise phone numbers, email IDs and addresses in handwriting.
Shape Recognition: Shape recognition allows users to draw shapes that are made geometrically perfect and snap right into place when adding useful diagrams and illustrations in Notes.
Face Sharing: You can now share your favourite watch faces, and get exciting new ones through social media. Sharing also supports complications, and if you don’t have a particular app will be prompted to download it.
Face Updates: There’s a new ‘Chronograph Pro’ face with a tachymeter, X-Large face can now supports a single rich complication and the Photos face gets the ability to add colour filters.
Complications: Developers can now create multiple complications per app, giving users more information on a single face. Apple is also bringing complications for its Camera Control, Sleep and Shortcuts apps.
Sleep Tracking: Sleep tracking finally comes to watchOS! Using the accelerometer, the Apple Watch can track sleep time and wake periods. All this data will be available on the Health app in iOS. In the morning, the wearer will see a visualisation of their previous night’s sleep. To support better sleep habits, Apple has added a ‘Wind down routine’ option in iOS, allowing users to create a customised routine before bed.
Hand Washing detection: It may be a little late for the pandemic, but the Apple Watch can now detect when a user is washing their hands. The Watch uses the motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning to automatically detect hand washing motions and sounds. It then initiates a 20-second countdown timer, and if the user finishes early, they will be prompted to keep washing.
Workouts and Fitness: Apple has added four new workout types: Core Training, Dance, Functional Strength Training, and Cooldown. Apple has also rebranded the Activity app as Fitness, as well as introduced a new design. There’s now one tab for daily Activity, Workouts, Awards, and Activity Trends and another for sharing.
Hearing Health: watchOS now monitors headphones for audio levels, and can issue audio notifications. When total listening with headphones has reached 100 percent of the safe weekly listening amount (80 decibels for 40 hours as per WHO), Apple Watch provides a notification to the wearer.
Picture in Picture Mode: tvOS now supports PiP platform wide. This means that you can use PiP with any apps on tvOS, including games.
HomeKit: HomeKit integration goes up a notch, with support for smart camera output in full screen, or in PiP mode.
Apple Arcade: Apple’s gaming platform now supports multiple users on tvOS. This will allow each user to pick up exactly where they left off on the big screen. Apple is also bringing support for Xbox Elite Series 2 and Xbox Adaptive controllers.
4K Video via AirPlay: Users can now AirPlay video content from their iPhone or iPad to the Apple TV in 4K. Currently this is limited to the Photos app.
macOS Big Sur
New Design: Apple has given macOS a huge new facelift, with new a colour palette and richer textures. Icons are now squared (bye bye circles) to match native icons on iOS and iPadOS. It feels a little like Microsoft’s Fluent Design, but clearly created by Apple.
Menu Bar: The menu bar now features an iOS-like Control Centre, with access to audio, brightness, music and more. The Notifications Centre also gets an iOS-themed makeover, with support for customisable Widgets.
Safari: Safari gets more personal, with the ability to customise the start page with a background image and sections like their Reading List and iCloud Tabs. Tabs display favicon by default, and there’s a cool new preview view for tabs (by hovering over them) if you tend to have a lot of tabs open. Extensions now live in the Mac App Store, with more privacy controls.
Messages: Apple has given Messages some iOS features like the new redesign and message effects. Users can also customise their Memoji on the Mac, and there’s also a new photo picker.
App Transparency: Apple will require all apps on the App Store to self-report their privacy practices, which will be visible on their app pages.
Privacy Report: There’s a new ‘Privacy Report’ feature baked into Safari across platforms. It allows users to see what cross-site trackers a website is using.
iCloud Keychain: Keychain gets secure password monitoring, so users can see if their passwords are involved in a data breach.
Sign In With Apple: Apple will allow users to migrate their existing sign in information to Apple’s sign in method.
Approximate Location: Rather than give their exact location, users will now have the ability to provide ‘approximate location’, i.e. an expanded radius of a few blocks for apps that need location data.
Mic/Camera Use Data: If an app has recently used or is using the microphone or camera, you will see an orange dot on the top left of your iPhone screen (above network info).
Translate: Apple is taking on Google’s much loved app with its own Translate app. Native to iOS and iPad OS, Translate will also be available on Safari and the Watch. Currently only 11 language pairs are available, but just like Apple Maps, expect more support slowly to roll out.
Accessibility: FaceTime now supports sign language detection for those with hearing impairments.
HomeKit: Users will now get automation suggestions, adaptive lighting and expanded controls in Control Centre on iOS and iPadOS. There’s also on-device facial recognition (works with Photos app) for cameras. The Home app on iOS and iPad has been updated to show a quick glance of the condition of smart home accessories.
Right now, there’s not a lot more we know about the new software. Stay tuned for a full review once the public betas go out in July. As for compatibility, here’s what we know so far:
iOS 14: iPhone 6s and higher (including 1st generation iPhone SE)
watchOS7: Apple Watch Series 3 and higher
iPadOS14: iPad mini 4, 2017 and later iPad, 2016 and later iPad Pro and 2014 and later iPad Air.
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