New Home Screen(s)
With iOS 14, Apple’s iPhones will finally have an app drawer – well, sort of. The feature doesn’t work exactly the same way as Android’s app drawer, but the idea seems to be the same.
On iOS, users will be able to see how many home screens they have from one spot and hide some of these, while the rest of the apps will show up on the App Library. So when you’re swiping left and have swiped through the available home screens, iOS will spring the App Library.
This shows suggested apps, which uses on-device artificial intelligence (AI) to suggest the apps you’re most likely to use. The App Library also intelligently curates categories, so your apps show up in pre-named folders according to the category they belong to. There’s a search bar on top to reach an app directly too.
Another big change Apple made was in how widgets will work on iOS from here on. While they have so far been relegated to the “Today View” section of iOS, with this new version you can put widgets on the home screen, alongside your apps. The company is also adding a new “widget gallery” that shows what widgets are available in your phone. This will presumably include widgets that developers create eventually, meaning any app on your phone will be able to place a widget here.
Widgets also come in different sizes, so that they can be put in different sections of your screen. Apple also has a new “Smart Stack” widget, which is one widget that combines multiple widgets inside it. It will show relevant widgets based on the time of day.
System wide PiP
Apple is also bringing a feature from its macOS, which runs on the company’s laptop and desktop computers, to the iPhone. Picture-in-picture video playback will now be coming to iOS as well, meaning you can work with other apps while the video you’re watching continues playing in a tiny window on one corner of the screen. You can also adjust the size of this window if required.
Siri also becomes less intrusive, in the sense that it will no longer take up the whole screen when you use the voice assistant. Instead, Siri appears as an overlay at the bottom of the screen through an animated icon. It also allows you to send audio messages now, instead of only taking message dictations.
Much like Google Translate, Apple also has its own live translation app now. The Translate app will be coming to iPhones with iOS 14 and can currently translate 11 languages on the go. At the moment, this includes English, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese,Korean, Arabic, Portuguese, and Russian. No Indian language is included at the moment.
The app allows users to speak into their phone and automatically translates into the desired language. You can also flip the phone into landscape mode to turn on “conversation mode”, which lets two people talk continuously as the app translates what they’re saying. In this mode, it intelligently detects which language is being spoken and translates to the other one.
Upgraded Messages app
Perhaps the biggest addition to Messages is a new mask wearing Memoji. Messages will also allow users to pin contacts and threaded conversations for group chats. You can also use the new mention feature, which is the same as using the @ sign on WhatsApp group chats. Using this will send a notification to the mentioned user.
While Apple has made changes to Maps, none of these seem very relevant to India. The company has added some curated guides from a few companies that don’t operate here. There’s also support for cycling and directions specifically meant for that too. The cycling feature also accounts for elevation, stairs, roads and bike paths, and will launch in New York City, Lost Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Beijing at first.
For electric vehicles, Apple Maps will have a feature that tracks the car’s charge and routes it to the nearest compatible charging stations. The company hasn’t mentioned which companies or cars support this right now, but said it’s working with BMW and Ford already.
While Carplay has some new wallpapers and app categories, the biggest addition is the ability to turn your iPhone into a car key. The new feature allows near-field communication (NFC) based keys to be stores on your phone and you can just bring your phone near the car to unlock it. The feature uses iOS 14’s software and Apple’s U1 ultra-wideband chip for this. It also allows people to share keys with other users, so that their phones can also work with the car. Users can also set driving limitations with these keys.
Last but not the least, Apple is adding a new App Clips feature, which seems very similar to Google’s Instant Apps on Android phones. Though Apple’s feature is similar in terms of functionality, the usage is quite different. It allows users to try a small snippet of an app without actually downloading it.
According to Apple, people will be able to point their phone’s camera to specific things in the real world, like a parking NFC tag, a coffee shop’s name etc. to bring up these clips. Users will also be able to access the App Clips they have seen through the App Library.
Developer beta for all operating systems announced and will available from today, public beta from next month and available this fall.