The new iOS is here - well, at least in the beta phase. iOS 14 offers a ton of new features and user experience enhancements as compared to the earlier version and in this roundup we detail everything new in this year's release.
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About iOS 14
Like every year, Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) started on 22nd June and went through until 26th June. Apple has been hosting the event annually. However, with things a bit different due to the ongoing pandemic, it was hosted virtually. While an in-person event would've been terrific, given the circumstances - it was well produced.
Conferences such as the WWDC exist to showcase new software releases. Unlike the September Apple events, there is no hardware introduced here. Instead, and continuing on the tradition, multiple software updates were revealed in this year's WWDC. A few noteworthy ones include the new iPad's OS, macOS, etc.
However, the new iOS update took the spotlight. Being one of the most anticipated launches, it was no surprise. iOS 14 came out with a bang. Consumers had many expectations and luckily, these were met. The new OS is arguably the most feature-filled version to date.
New iOS Features
Similar to Android, iOS 14 also has an adapted App Library. Swiping on the home screen, users can now access a visually clean and arranged set of apps that function as the App Library. This is a welcome feature from Apple as there are many apps which we like to keep on our phones but do not want to see every day. The App Library will also help to declutter and bring organization to the mess on the home screen of most users' iPhones.
With widgets introduced first by Google seven years ago, one may wonder why Apple took seven years to catch up. The answer is simple. Initially, widgets had a lot of problems. Apple just solved most of them, with a few extra additions.
Widgets are small rectangular shaped icons that are placed on the home screen. They allow you to perform a wide array of tasks, for example, you can use a Calendar Widget to check your daily schedule without ever going in the Calendar app itself, or keep updated on the weather without opening the Weather app. All the widgets offered on iOS 14 are currently first-party developed by Apple itself. But with time, more developers are expected to jump the bandwagon and start rolling out widgets for their applications.
Smart stack is an extension of the Widget feature. You can add it to your home screen, and it will display multiple widgets in one icon. You can swipe on the Smart Stack to go between the widgets, or alternatively, you can let it automatically shuffle. By default, there are certain widgets already chosen. You can delete some of them and create a custom Stack. To do that, add a widget to your home screen. Simply hover a second one over the first one - that will make it a scrollable stack.
With iOS 14, users have the option to hide pages on the home screen. This works exceptionally well if you want to hide a few selected apps for the applications that you don't want to delete. Previously, you had to group them in a folder and put it in a corner. But now, you can add all of them to a single page, hold down the screen to edit, unselect the page, and you don't have to see the page.
Partial Screen Actions
Previously, some notifications used to take up the entire screen for no reason. If a call came up when you were in the middle of reading a book or texting with your boss - the whole experience and focus got ruined. Luckily, Apple has resolved the complaint.
Phone calls will now pop up as notifications from the top, ensuring you are not disrupted. Siri works similarly. You open up Siri by long-pressing the power button, and it only covers the bottom portion of the screen. You can continue working on other tasks while Siri is active.
FaceTime also has adapted the feature. Once in a video call, you can swipe up or press the home button to minimize the app. Furthermore, you can even multitask with video streaming applications such as Youtube. With full control over the minimized video, users can change their size and position on the screen to their liking.
Opening an application can take up time, and fortunately, Apple has tried to address the issue by introducing shortcuts. The time taken to open the said apps has reduced drastically with this feature. It uses sensors on the back of the iPhone, which detect taps to trigger a shortcut. For example, double-tapping on the back can launch up Siri. Probably the best part about shortcuts is that they can be configured to how you like. This opens a whole new world of ways you can optimize and personalize your iPhone experience.
Messages has also got an update in this year's release of the iOS. There are many small features added that will make messaging a lot more convenient. Pinned messages make texting your close contacts faster. You can join people whom you contact the most at the top. Up to eight people can be pinned. Photos can now also be added as group icons.
Other useful updates include mentions and inline replies. Whenever you type someone's name in a group, they are mentioned. It's similar to using the "@" function on other messaging applications. Inline replies refer to replying to a specific message. You can start a reply thread. Then people can respond to your responses.
The new iOS update has hundreds of features. All the major ones were listed above. Others not as significant but still worthy of praise are mentioned here.
- You can now search for emojis. This can be done using the native keyboard.
- There is a new translation application by Apple itself. It only supports a few languages right now. However, more languages and dialects are expected to be supported later on. This native translation app will be especially useful when visiting a foreign country.
- Default applications can also be changed. For example - Safari was the default browser for iPhone, which can now be changed to Chrome or any other browser or choice.
- App snips are another feature, enabling you to use applications without installing them. However, the functionality is limited.
- A sound recognition notification system has been added and you can be informed of certain events. In some instances, you are sent a notification. Using the iPhone's microphones, ambient noises will be detected, and a particular sound will notify you. These include a running faucet, phone calls, doorbells, etc.
- Bitmojis have been improved. The face detection is much better now. As a bonus, you can add a mask to your face.
- Apple takes your privacy seriously. The operating system will detect camera and microphone usage. If any app is doing so, you'll be informed. The LED light on the top bezel will turn green for the camera and orange for the microphone.
- Night mode has also been improved. In the Camera App with night mode activated, a gyroscopic guide appears to help you take a better photo.
- FaceTime has seen improvements. People who use sign language to communicate once detected will be shown at the top of the screen. This is to make them appear more prominent.
- The experience of Maps is better as well in iOS 14 and you can be given directions if you're biking. The route will be chosen considering traffic and other factors in mind.
- iOS 14 also has a higher refresh rate version. The current iPhone only has a 60Hz screen. Through this leak, we can confirm that the next iPhones will have a higher refresh rate.
Apple has an excellent reputation for supporting old phones with new iOS versions and this trend has continued with iOS 14. Most Android phones are more than lucky to receive two years of updates. Apple, on the other hand, is updating even the five-year-old iPhone 6s. The list iPhones that will support iOS 14 is provided below.
- iPhone 11
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 6s
- iPhone 6s Plus
- iPhone SE (1st generation)
- iPhone SE (2nd generation)
- iPod touch (7th generation)
Currently, iOS 14 has only been announced and a beta version released for developer testing. However, we can make an educated guess that it will roll out with the new iPhone due in September, later this year.