Apple’s WWDC event kicked off on June 22 and was streamed online from an empty auditorium due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some of the big announcements made and what iOS users should expect in the future.
Check out live reports from the event at The Verge
iOS 14 – App Clips, Picture-in-picture
Apple gave a first look at iOS 14, the new update coming to iPhones later this year. The most notable change comes in the form of widgets that you can place on the home screen. It’s like if Apple Watch apps invaded the iPhone home screen — it’s a really big deal that changes the look of the iOS software. Apple is debuting these new widgets in different shapes and sizes, and the idea is that you’ll be able to have more data-rich info on your home screen. If you want more, you’ll be able to get them through the Widget Gallery.
It is also adding App Library, a new feature that automatically organizes apps based on their categories. It seems great for quickly accessing apps that normally live outside of the first or second page.
Picture-in-picture is coming to iOS 14. If you swipe away while watching a full-screened video, the window will float on your home screen, allowing you to resize and move the video. PiP isn’t a super unique feature, but Apple is making it its own by letting you minimize the PiP into a small button on the side of the screen. That way, you don’t have to exit the video if you need to look at the whole screen for a moment.
Apple has debuted App Clips, which are like its version of Android’s Instant Apps. With App clips, you won’t need to download a full app to be able to gain access to what it offers, in addition to being able to make a purchase through it via Apple Pay. It seems great if you’re someone who doesn’t want to download more apps than you really need.
Apple debuted its next major desktop software update, called macOS Big Sur. It features a big overhaul in design that brings it more in line with where iOS and iPadOS have been heading for the past few years. It’s even getting a lot of the features coming to iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, like widgets, messaging improvements like grouping and pinned conversations.
Apple Silicon will power future computers
Apple has been using Intel-based processors for years, but it’s making the long-rumored switch to its own silicon. It has been using its own tech for iPhones and iPads, and it’s not making the jump to covering its entire suite of computing products.
The change is huge. It’s a big change for hardware, unleashing Apple’s own efforts in making components instead of being tied it to Intel’s progress, but it’s also a huge shift in software. Apple is making it possible to run apps made for Intel-based apps on the new Macs, as well as apps from other environments, like Linux. Additionally, thanks to using custom hardware, it can even run iPhone and iPad apps, which is a huge deal, to say the least.
Apple is updating the software running on AirPods to let them connect automatically to whichever paired device starts playing audio. You’ll no longer need to manually select which source you want to connect to. You can see it working in the GIF above.
Apple is utilizing the accelerometer in the AirPods Pro to provide spatial audio that tracks your head (and your device’s) location. Spatial audio should provide a more immersive sound experience by making you feel like you’re inside of the audio mix.
Similar to iOS 14, widgets are coming to the next version of iPadOS. It’s not clear yet if you can bring those out of the today view and into the home screen, like you can on iPhone.
Apple is touting a new sidebar as its way of making it much easier to navigate apps. It showed it working on Apple Music and other apps. If you’re using your iPad as a laptop replacement, the sidebar should make it easier to do more without having to touch the screen.
Apple also redesigned search on iPad, and it looks almost exactly like Spotlight on macOS. It can help you find contacts, search on the web, or serve as a Launchpad-like function to launch apps.
Apple also debuted a new feature called Scribble, which allows you to write in any text field with the Apple Pencil, then it will be automatically converted to text. The feature can automatically detect the context of the information you write, like a phone number or address, then direct you to the correct app when it’s tapped.
This feature can also render handwriting in multiple languages into text on the iPad.
This article features The Verge.