Apple, as expected, provided a preview of iOS 14 at at WWDC20, this year’s online-streaming version of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference — which includes new tools for navigating the iPhone home screen and enhanced privacy.
The iOS 14 operating system will be released this fall as a free software update for iPhone 6s and later. It features redesigned “widgets” that can be accessed directly on the home screen (above left) to provide expanded access and information. Users also have the option to let Apple devices organize their apps with App Library (above right), which automatically groups apps not included on one of their home screens into categories.
It’s “the biggest update we’ve ever made to the home screen,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of software engineering.
In another expected announcement, Apple confirmed that it is moving away from Intel processors in Macs to its own internally developed silicon. Apple CEO Tim Cook called it “a huge leap forward for the Mac,” and that the company having its own in-house silicon design team is “a game-changer.”
Apple plans to ship the first Mac with Apple silicon by the end of 2020 and complete the transition in about two years, although Cook noted Apple will continue to support and release new versions of macOS for Intel-based Macs “for years to come.”
With iOS 14, the new widgets can be pinned in different sizes on any iOS home screen page. Users can create a “Smart Stack” of widgets, which uses on-device artificial intelligence to display a widget based on time of day, location and activity.
In addition, iOS 14 is adding picture-in-picture support for videos (so you can now watch a video or take a FaceTime call while using another app).
On the privacy front, all iOS apps will now be required to obtain user permission before tracking — including information collected about a user on an app or website owned by one company with information collected separately by other companies for targeted ads, ad measurement, or via data brokers. Also, the company will later this year require developers to self-report privacy summaries for their apps in the App Store. In addition, Apple devices with iOS 14 will allow users to share only their approximate location (in addition to the option of blocking that altogether) users can get more details into an app’s use of the microphone and camera.
Meanwhile, iOS 14’s App Clips feature is a new “app experience” associated with a particular product or business that Apple says will load “within seconds” to complete a specific task, such as buy a cup of coffee or filling a parking meter. The App Clips can be discovered and accessed by scanning a new Apple-designed App Clip code or QR codes, or shared in Messages or from Safari. App Clips are integrated with Apple Pay for easy payment and Sign in with Apple for quick and private login.
In iOS 14, when you ask Siri a question, it doesn’t take over the whole screen: In the new compact design, when Siri has a result for you it appears at the top of the screen like a notification. Siri is expanding its translation capabilities, with support for over 65 language pairs.
Also at WWDC20, Apple screened a trailer for “Foundation,” a new original series for Apple TV Plus based on the sci-fi classic trilogy by Isaac Asimov, coming out in 2021.
For Apple TV devices, tvOS 14 will expand multiuser capabilities to include Apple Arcade and other games (so all users on Apple TV can resume games where they left off). The upgrade also will let users access HomeKit-enabled video cameras and accessories by using Siri or Control Center (as well as receive doorbell notifications with live camera feeds showing who is there):
Among other news announcements: Apple Maps is coming to more countries, including the U.K., Ireland and Canada, and adding cycling directions; iPhones and iPads will have a smaller pop-up screen for incoming phone calls; and AirPods are adding spatial audio and automatic audio switching (e.g., moving the source Mac to iPhone to receive an incoming phone call).
Cook, at the start of the WWDC20 keynote, called out the company’s recently announced $100 million pledge to donate to racial equity and justice causes, as well as committing to increasing spending with Black-owned suppliers and professional partners and to increase its steps to hire and support underrepresented groups.
Cook also touched on the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that Apple users are relying on “our products more than ever” to stay connected and to perform their work.