For the first time ever, Apple hosted their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) exclusively online.
The conference was all about the big software changes that are coming through iOS 14, iPadOS 14, WatchOS 7, the Big Sur and more. Here’s some of the biggest announcements made by Tim Cook.
1. iOS 14 brings big updates the home screen
iOS 14 is not a huge surprise. As expected, the new operating system for iPhone has a lot of user-friendly improvements, an interface upgrade and improvements that make it easier for users to get the information they need.
The new iOS 14 promises to declutter your home screen with automatically organised collections. This means your apps will be better organised, by use and category. For the first time in a very long time you will have a bigger part of your screen visible.
The widgets feature is finally here for those who have been longing for it. You can customise the size of the widgets, the information displayed and they are nested right next to the rest of your apps. Users will finally be able to access information without opening apps or navigating through screens. Features like Siri and incoming phone calls are more compact and will take up less of your display.
Apple’s Messages apps will have threaded messages and pinned contacts. These new tricks are here to make group messages easier to follow. Moreover, thanks to them talking to the people that are most important to you becomes more convenient.
The greatest novelty is a new Translate app. It offers close to real-time translations for conversations between two speakers. This is great news for all those who love to travel. It will make life much simpler.
Another novelty is “Apple Clips”. This means you will have lightweight versions of popular apps you can quickly use to pay for purchases or use services at participating businesses without downloading larger apps you might not want on your phone.
Good news for Apple’s CarPlay automotive interface too. It will give you the ability to unlock your car with a compatible iPhone and share keys with approved drivers simply by sending them a message. This feature will be available in new cars starting 2021.
2. Wear your Apple Watch to bed
Sleep tracking is finally coming to users with the new Apple WatchOS 7. The native sleep tracking app will be monitoring your sleep. But it will also be your sleep assistant. It will make sure you get to bed on time and wake up when you want. you will have more wake up alarm choices too. At bedtime, the watch will dim the display. While you sleep, it will track your movements and breathing patterns to analyse how long and how deep your sleep is.
Another useful and present addition is “handwashing detection”. The watch will be able to tell when you are washing your hands. It will display a timer to help you scrub your hands for the appropriate amount of time. If you love dancing, there’s great news for you. Apple WatchOS 7 can now track dancing as a workout. It can detect hip-hop, latin, cardio, and bollywood.
3. iPad and the Pencil are becoming inseparable
The new iPadOS will feature many of the changes brought to iOS 14. We’ve already covered some of those above. The iPadOS will also have some pretty nifty features specific to the iPad only. The most significant upgrade is, of course, related to the Apple Pencil. It will have handwriting recognition, called “Scribble”. This will allow the user to interact with written text as if it were typed. It can be selected, manipulated and converted to typed text. This feature can be used to write queries in text fields and web browsers. They will be converted into typed text.
Considering Apple’s history when it comes to styluses, this upgrade is not surprising. The Apple Pencil is well loved, especially by artists.
4. macOS gets a new look and app updates
The recent refresh of Apple’s Mac Pro and Mac mini desktop computers have brought attention back to one of the more neglected platforms. And what good news this is. The new macOS, called “Big Sur” will feature visual and interface changes. Their greatest purpose is to make using Apple’s own apps easier. Sound and brightness setting will become easier to access. Widgets will also be available to those who want them. Big Sur will borrow elements from iOS and iPadOS. One of these is Control Center.
5. Meet Apple Silicon
Here’s the greatest news from WWDC 2020: Apple will drop Intel processors and move to in-house “Apple Silicon” processors. After a decade of creating mobile processors for iPhones and iPads, Apple has decided to dive into making their own laptop and desktop processors.
Of course, this comes with challenges. Developers will have to build apps that will run on Apple Silicon chips. But no reason to fret. Apple has announced a two-year road map to help developers transition from building Intel-based apps. They will be loaned a Mac Mini powered by the company’s upcoming A12Z Bionic processor as part of a $500 Developer Transition Kit.
At the moment it is unknown when the Apple Silicon-powered devices will replace the Intel machines. Tom Cook said that Apple will still create Intel-powered Macs in the future. For how long? We’ll just have to wait and see.