Apple came up with a whole lot of announcement at this year’s WWDC 2020. The event took place amid the pandemic and was held in a completely virtual setting. Even the major annual keynote event of the company went virtual this time around. All the updates that are set to come to macOS, iOS, and other software were announced in this virtual keynote event. The unprecedented times called for such an unprecedented approach and Apple did it while announcing a plethora of new stuff for the upcoming software versions. Here’s a quick look at what’s coming from Apple this year.
The new iOS version will now be available in the preview mode for the developers while public beta release of the software is set to arrive somewhere in July.
There were quite a few interface changes showcased at the event. Here is how different interfaces will now look like.
- App Library: The app library is updated with a new page for home screen which shows up once the user swipes past their final apps page. On this page, the apps are automatically sorted and categorized, highlighting the ones that are mostly used.
- Widgets: The homescreen will now host the widgets as well alongside the app icons. There is no need to go to the Today screen for accessing your widgets.
- Picture-in-Picture on iPhone: Even though the picture-in-picture video play back was available for iPad since the release of iOS 9, everyone missed it on iPhone. Not anymore, though! When a video is playing and you try to switch apps, the video will keep on playing in somewhat of a minimized small box which can be dragged anywhere on the screen.
- Siri: There’s been an overhaul given to the Siri interface so that it may not get into the fullscreen mode, and speech-to-text transcription could be done completely on-device to ensure privacy and speed.
- Messages: The most important messages can now be pinned to top of the messages list. The users can also setup notifications from noisy groups to alert only when your name is mentioned. And Memojis will be able to wear masks now as well.
- Maps: The “new maps” feature of Apple will be rolling out later in the year in Ireland, Canada, and UK. Soon, cycling directions will be available in the maps as well (in SF Bay Area, NYC, LA, Shanghai, and Beijing at first). These will be aware of stuff like hills and bike lanes and there will also be directions for the owners of electric vehicles to factor in stuff like charging locations and battery ranges.
- CarPlay: There will be newer wallpaper options added to CarPlay, and some new inbuilt apps will also be there to focus on stuff like charging, food ordering, and parking. Apple has also been working with some car makers so that your phone could be used as your car key.
- App Clips: Fast, tiny, lightweight “Applets” which pop-up on your demand with no requirements of manually installing anything at all – like, for example, something for taking payment on the go when you’re looking to rent a scooter. These are triggered by QR code, NFC, or through Safari/Messages.
Even though most of the above-mentioned features of the iOS 14 will be there in iPad OS, there will be some specific new tricks added to the OS for iPad specifically. These include:
- New “Universal Search”: The search UI for iPad has been given a refresh by Apple and it won’t be full screen anymore. It can also dig deeper into the apps like Messages, Keynote, Files, and Mail.
Apple Pencil/Scribble: All the text fields can now work with handwriting recognition, letting users to jot down quick notes with no need of putting their Pencil down for typing. Users would also be able to draw some rough shapes now (such as stars, arrows, and octagons) while having them converted automatically to computer-drawn shapes that look prettier. All they have to do for that is to hold their pencil in its place once finished drawing.
A couple of new features announced for AirPods include:
- Automatic Device Switching: The AirPods are now given the ability to switch automatically between several devices. You can play videos on the iPad, and the audio could be heard through the AirPods; and if you get call on your iPhone, the AirPods will switch over automatically as needed.
- Spatial Audio: The new feature gives simulated surround sound which is only compatible with the AirPods. Considering your head position, using the built-in accelerometers of the new AirPods, the audio is made to feel like it’s “fixed” to the surrounding real world.
The WWDC 2020 also announced some amazing new features for the Apple Watch as well. These include:
- Face Sharing: Once you have set up your Apple Watch as desired, your current watch face setup could be shared with others you like to through Mail, Safari, or Messages. In case, if the other party doesn’t have the required app, this feature will show them where they can get it.
- Cycling Directions
- Multiple Complications Per App: All the watchOS apps are now capable of offering several watch face complications, rather than just a single complication per app.
- Sleep Tracking: Apple Watch now gets the capability of detecting automatically when you are asleep, and can then record the necessary data to help track your sleeping schedule over a period of time.
- Handwashing Detection: With your Apple Watch you can now detect when you are washing the hands. The accelerometer helps to spot relevant motions while the microphone listens for any scrubbing sounds. Once the watch detects you are scrubbing away, it starts a countdown timer automatically and helps ensure you have done it for 20 seconds.
Some privacy changes were also announced at the WWDC 2020 including:
- Approximate Location: If you have always wanted apps to know your approximate location and not the exact one, that’s very much possible now.
- Mic/Camera Indicator: Even though it’s not equally good as some dedicated hardware light, your iOS now shows the on-screen indicator when your camera or microphone is being accessed by an app.
- Simplified Privacy Policies: It will be necessary from now on for the app developers to provide simplified “highlights” of all the user data they’d be tracking and/or share it with the third parties. The summary or highlights will be available before the download in iOS and macOS app stores.
Here’s a look at HomeKit updates:
- Adaptive Lighting: The brightness/temperature of the connected smart bulbs can now be automatically adjusted through the HomeKit all through the day. This will allow for more cooler lights during the working hours while warmer temperatures could take over when you have to wind down.
- Activity Zones: If your security camera has been set up with HomeKit, alerts can now be limited to only a few particular sections in the video stream. For example, motion alerts are sent when something enters the yard rather than every time a vehicle drives by your home on the street and is barely in the frame.
- Face Recognition: Known faces can now be recognized by HomeKit-enabled doorbell cameras, and you get to know who is at the door through AppleTV/Homepod notifications.
The upcoming macOS version will be named as “BigSur”. It will include a few tweaks to make it feel more similar to the iOS (such as rounded square icons throughout the inbuilt app suite.)
- Control Center: Taking the idea from iOS, a dropdown will be added to the macOS in upper right corner of the screen which offers one-click access for display brightness, dark mode, volume, Wi-Fi controls, etc.
- New Maps: The macOS will come with redesigned maps and there will be support for the in-door maps, favorite locations, guides, etc.
- Notification Center: A little cleaning has been done in the Notification Center to bring notifications/widgets into a single unified view so that lots of notifications could be cleared out at once.
- Safari: Your saved passwords could now be monitored by Safari to find out any of them which might have been exposed during the breaches. There’s a “Privacy Report” button added that will give you a breakdown of the data being tracked by the website being visited currently.
- Overhauled Extensions: A refresh is also coming to the Safari’s extensions system and the focus will be on conveying/limiting the type of data extension accessible to the developers. If some extension asks for access to something, like browsing history, the system will grant it for a limited time period, on a particular site only or across all the websites.
New Processors Coming To Macs
After months of rumors, Apple is making a switch from the Intel CPUs to custom ARM-based alternatives that have been designed in-house, as they’ve been doing it for years throughout the iPhone/iPad/Apple Watch lineups. According to the manufacturer, it’s going to offer a “whole new level of performance” and will reduce the power consumption. It will also make it possible for Apple’s Secure Enclave to be available in Macs. In addition, the users will be able to run iOS apps on Mac as well.
While the developers will be required to update apps so that they could be run natively on new chipsets, most developers will be able to get things going within a few days according to Apple. In addition, “Rosetta 2” will help automatically/transparently translate the existing apps in Big Sur for compatibility.
That’s all we have from the WWDC 2020 and many of these things have already taken effect. Try the new iOS, iPadOS, and macOS experience.