Widgets and picture-in-picture are the big additions
Apple previewed iOS 14 at its WWDC event on June 22. It was the first time Apple had staged the event virtually.
Among the new software’s chief additions are widgets, which can be added to the Home screen, and a Smart Stack widget that gives prominence to relevant apps based on the time of day.
The new App Library automatically organises apps into groups and lists based on similarities.
Apple is also added picture-in-picture to iOS videos, so videos and FaceTime calls can play in the background while other apps are in use.
Another new feature is the App Clip, which allows users to use snippets of apps they have not downloaded when they need to. Apple demonstrated examples such as parking apps, or cafe reward program apps. App Clips supports the Sign in with Apple feature that debuted with iOS 13 to avoid having to make new accounts for these apps.
Additionally, Siri and incoming calls appear as pop-ups, instead of taking over the entire screen.
Further updates include built-in translation of 11 languages including English, Mandarin, Japanese, French and Spanish, pinning important Messages conversations to the top of the app, curated guides in Apple Maps, and a news Sleep Mode that turns on do not disturb and dims the phone’s screen.
“A lot of the updates in iOS 14 seem to be designed to close the gap on features already available on Android smartphones, such as picture-in-picture support, widgets on the home screen and in-line responses to message threads,” said CCS Insight head of research Ben Wood. “They will be welcomed by iPhone owners as a major step forward in overall usability.”
iOS 14 will be available to the public this autumn, with a developer preview available to Apple Developer Program members starting today. It will work on all Apple smartphones from the iPhone 6S onwards.
Other key announcements at WWDC included Apple’s new desktop software update, called macOS Big Sur, and Apple’s announcement that it is switching to its own processors from Intel for its computers.