There are some big changes coming to your iPhone, which Apple suggests will dramatically upgrade usability, without sacrificing familiarity. Included in iOS 14, revealed at its WWDC 2020 developer event, is the biggest update yet to the Home Screen and some productivity tweaks. Much will seem familiar to Android users.
So what can you look forward to?
The headline news is widgets that can now be pinned in different sizes on any Home Screen page, perhaps themed for work, travel, sports or entertainment.
You’ll also be able to create a Smart Stack of widgets; they’ll surface smartly when you need them, depending on time, location, or activity.
Another useful addition looks to be the App Library, a new feature that automatically organises all your apps, intelligently presenting those that may be helpful at any given moment. You’ll be able to choose how many Home Screen pages to display and easily hide pages for quicker access to the App Library.
And with the addition of Picture-in-Picture support, iPhone users can now watch a video or take a FaceTime call while using another app. You can enlarge the PIP window, or simply swipe it out of the way, to better see your main screen. It’s not clear just yet how many apps will support this PiP functionality.
Similarly, Messages has also been overhauled. Users will be able to pin conversations to the top of their messages list, or customise conversations by setting a group photo using an image or emoji.
Siri interactions are also getting downsized, appearing as an icon at the bottom of the screen.
“Apple iOS 14 transforms the most iconic elements of the iPhone experience, starting with the biggest update we’ve ever made to the Home Screen…”
“iOS 14 transforms the most iconic elements of the iPhone experience, starting with the biggest update we’ve ever made to the Home Screen,” declares Craig Federighi, senior VP of Software Engineering. “With beautifully redesigned widgets on the Home Screen, the App Library that automatically organizes all of your apps, and App Clips that are fast and easy to discover, iPhone becomes even more powerful and easier to use.”
An App Clip is a mini application associated with a particular product or business, that will load within seconds. Android users will already know them as Instant Apps. They can be discovered and accessed by scanning a new Apple-designed App Clip code, or through NFC tags and QR codes, shared in Messages or from Safari.
Finally, maps has had a revamp, ostensibly to make it easier to navigate and explore. Niceties include curated guides able to direct users to noteworthy locations, such as restaurants in the vicinity, or popular attractions. Useful for city breaks, we think.
A public version of the iOS 14 beta will drop in in July, with final version availability at the end of the year. It’ll also come as standard on the new iPhone range, expected at the same time.
Sound quality has also been improved, with the introduction of Spatial Audio…
In related news, sound quality is also about to be improved, with the introduction of Spatial Audio to AirPods Pro.
Spacial Audio apparently works by applying directional audio filters, and adjusting the frequencies each ear receives. According to the company, this allows sounds to be placed virtually anywhere in three dimensional space to provide an immersive listening experience with movies and music.
Spatial Audio will support Dolby Atmos audio, as well as audio encoded in 5.1 and 7.1 surround formats. As yet there’s no info on availability, however this does seem to be a precursor to Dolby Atmos Music being supported by Apple Music.
Currently Dolby Atmos Music is available on rivals Tidal and Amazon Music services.