At the virtual Worldwide Developer Conference today, Apple previewed iOS 14 (which wasn’t renamed “iPhone OS” as rumored), which saw a major update to Home Screen pages with redesigned widgets and the App Library, a new way to tap into the App Store with App Clips, updates to Messages, and more.
The new widgets present timely information at a glance and can be pinned in different sizes on any Home Screen page. Users can create a Smart Stack of widgets that uses on-device intelligence to surface the right widget based on time, location, and activity, according to Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.
“This helps you get info at a glance,” he adds. “The Home Screen is more beautiful and data rich.”
Home Screen pages can display widgets that are customized for work, travel, sports, entertainment, and other areas of interest. 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 view, and intelligently surfaces apps that may be helpful in the moment, says Federighi. Users can choose how many Home Screen pages to display and easily hide pages for quicker access to the App Library.
Incoming FaceTime and phone calls and Siri interactions take on an all-new compact design that enables users to stay in the context of what they’re doing. With Picture-in-Picture support, iPhone users can now watch a video or take a FaceTime call while using another app.
An App Clip is a small part of an app experience designed to be discovered the moment it is needed. App Clips are associated with a particular product or business, and load within seconds to complete a specific task, such as renting a scooter, purchasing a coffee, or filling a parking meter. They can be discovered and accessed by scanning a new Apple-designed App Clip code, or through NFC tags and QR codes, or shared in Messages or from Safari,.
With Messages, users can now pin conversations to the top of their messages list, keep up with group threads through mentions and inline replies, and further customize conversations by setting a group photo using an image or emoji, according to Stacey Lysik, senior director, Apple.
“You can pin conversations at the top of your list,” she adds. “There are now over one trillion ways to customize a message’s look with Memoji and we’re adding more Memoji options that are more inclusive and diverse with additional hairstyles, headwear, face coverings, and more.”
iOS 14 also adds in-line replies to group messages. While in a group message, you can type someone’s name to replay to that person. You can also create a unique visual look for a Messages group.
Meg Frost, product design for Apple Maps, says Maps in iOS 14 makes it easier than ever to navigate and explore with new cycling directions, electric vehicle routing, and curated Guides. Cycling directions take into account elevation, how busy a street is, and whether there are stairs along the route. Electric vehicle routing adds charging stops along a planned route based on current vehicle charge and charger types.
Guides provide a curated list of interesting places to visit in a city, created by a selection of trusted resources. Frost says that 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.
Frost says the cycling and electric vehicle features are coming to Coming to New York City, Los Angeles, LA, San Franciso Bay Area, Shanghai, and Beijing at first with more cities added over time.
With iOS 14, Federighi says apps will now be required to obtain user permission before tracking. Later this year, App Store product pages will feature summaries of developers’ self-reported privacy practices, displayed in a simple, easy-to-understand format, he adds.
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.
Federighi says additional iOS 14 features will include:
Translate is designed to be the best and easiest app for translating conversations, offering quick and natural translation of voice and text among 11 different languages. On-device mode allows users to experience the features of the app offline for private voice and text translation.
Siri expands its knowledge, helps find answers from across the internet, and can now send audio messages. Keyboard dictation runs on device when dictating messages, notes, email, and more.
The Home app makes smart home control even easier with new automation suggestions and expanded controls in Control Center for quicker access to accessories and scenes. Adaptive Lighting for compatible HomeKit-enabled lights automatically adjusts the color temperature throughout the day, and with on-device Face Recognition, compatible video doorbells and cameras can identify friends and family.
Digital car keys give users a secure way to use iPhone or Apple Watch to unlock and start their car. Digital car keys can be shared using Messages, or disabled through iCloud if a device is lost, and are available starting this year through NFC. Apple also unveiled the next generation of digital car keys based on Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness delivered through the U1 chip, which will allow users to unlock future car models without removing their iPhone from their pocket or bag, and will become available next year.
Find My will add support for finding third-party products and accessories with the new Find My network accessory program. This will allow customers to use the Find My app to locate other important items in their lives, in addition to their Apple devices. User privacy remains central to the Find My network with end-to-end encryption built in. A draft specification is available for accessory makers and product manufacturers starting today.
Safari offers a Privacy Report so users can see which cross-site trackers have been blocked, secure password monitoring to help users detect saved passwords that may have been involved in a data breach, and built-in translation for entire webpages.
Health has all-new experiences to manage sleep, better understand audio levels that may affect hearing health, and a new Health Checklist — a centralized place to manage health and safety features — includes Emergency SOS, Medical ID, ECG, Fall Detection, and more.10 Health also adds support for new data types for mobility, Health Records, symptoms, and ECG.
The Weather app and widget keep users up-to-date on severe weather events and a new next-hour precipitation chart shows minute-by-minute precipitation when rain is in the forecast.
Accessibility features include Headphone Accommodations, which amplifies soft sounds and tunes audio to help music, movies, phone calls, and podcasts sound crisper and clearer, and sign language detection in Group FaceTime, which makes the person signing more prominent in a video call.12 VoiceOver, the industry’s leading screen reader for the blind community, now automatically recognizes what is displayed visually onscreen so more apps and web experiences are accessible to more people.
The developer preview of iOS 14 is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting today, and a public beta will be available to iOS users next month at beta.apple.com. New software features will be available this fall as a free software update for iPhone 6s and later. For more information, visit apple.com/ios/ios-14-preview. Features are subject to change. Some features may not be available in all regions or all languages.