Apple in June 2020 introduced the latest version of its iOS operating system, iOS 14, which is set to be released this fall. iOS 14 is one of Apple’s biggest iOS updates to date, introducing Home screen design changes, major new features, updates for existing apps, Siri improvements, and is set to be released this fall.
Here’s What’s New In iOS 14
First and foremost, iOS 14 brings a redesigned Home screen that includes support for widgets for the first time. Widgets can be dragged from the Today view right onto the Home screen, and can be pinned in different sizes.
With a Smart Stack feature, the iPhone can use on-device intelligence to surface the right widget based on time, location, and activity. Each Home screen page can display widgets customized for work, travel, sports, and more. The Today section where widgets are housed has also been redesigned, and there’s a widgets gallery where users can choose new widgets from apps and customize those widgets.
Apple has developed a new App Library page on the home screen. It categorizes the apps based on category, creates a group, and gives it a relevant name. It all works automatically without user input.
Swiping all the way to the end of the app pages on an iPhone opens the new App Library, which is an interface that shows all of the apps on your iPhone to see everything at a glance.
Apps are organized into your folder system, but there are also Apple-created folders like Suggestions and Apple Arcade that intelligently surface apps.
Picture in Picture
A feature that previously was available for iPadOS, Picture in Picture lets users watch a video that floats above other applications.
Like on the iPad, the video can be resized and moved around. It can also be swiped to the side to play in an audio-only mode.
With a Picture in Picture mode, users can watch videos or talk on FaceTime while also using other apps at the same time, with FaceTime or a video playing in a small icon that can be relocated to any corner of the iPhone’s screen.
Apple’s digital assistant is being given a new appearance. Instead of a full-screen Siri, it will now appear as a smaller icon, which will also pop up small snippets of apps to show the result of performed requests.
New audio messages via Siri will record the user and send it via messages. Dictation has also been improved with on-device processing.
Siri is smarter in iOS 14 and can answer a greater range of questions with info pulled from across the internet, and Siri can also send audio messages. Keyboard dictation runs on device, adding an additional layer of privacy for dictated messages.
Digital CarKey Support
Digital car keys give users a secure way to use iPhone or Apple Watch to unlock and start their car. You can also share it using Messages, or disabled through iCloud if a device is lost.
Apple also unveiled the next generation of digital car keys based on Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness delivered through the U1 chip, which will allow users to unlock future car models without removing their iPhone from their pocket or bag and will become available next year.
The CarKey support will come to the 2021 BMW 5 Series.
Apple added App Clips to iOS 14, letting users take advantage of some app features without needing to download the full app. App Clips can let you do things like rent a scooter, purchase a coffee, make a restaurant reservation, or fill a parking meter just by scanning a code, with no need to download a full app.
CarPlay lets users set wallpapers and it supports new app types for parking, electric vehicle charging, and quick food ordering.
Apple’s QuickTake feature lets you record a video by holding down the shutter button in photo mode. That way you can capture video-worthy moments without moving to video mode. As of now, the feature was only available for the iPhone 11 series. iOS 14 brings the QuickTake to iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max.
A useful addition for developers wanting to encourage more users to try out their apps, Clips enables users to try out elements of an app on their iPhone, crucially without needing to download or install the entire app.
Functionally, Clips can download only parts of an app that enable specific functions to occur, instead of all of the app. To users, this will provide the ability to quickly try out an app before proceeding with a full purchase or download, in a similar way to demo software.
This is also intended for apps like Yelp that can provide information but do not necessarily require a full installation. Users can use Sign in with Apple to log in, and with payment via Apple Pay.
The Messages app is getting an improvement as a part of iOS 14 as well. Apple will now let you pin a conversation in the Messages app so it sits right at the top. The Memoji feature is also getting improved and you can customize it as per your profession, age, face masks, and more.
To make group conversations easier, Apple is adding @mentions support in the app. One can also customize the group image.
There are new Memoji options that include additional hairstyles, headwear, face coverings, and ages, plus new Memoji stickers for hug, fist bump, and blush. Memoji are more expressive than ever thanks to revamped facial and muscle structure.
For the Health app, Apple has added support for Sleep Tracking on Apple Watch, plus a Health Checklist for managing health and safety features (Emergency SOS, Medical ID, Fall Detection, and ECG) and an addition to help users better understand how audio levels can impact hearing health.
In the Weather app, there’s info on severe weather events, a next-hour precipitation chart, and minute-by-minute precipitation readings when rain is forecast, all features adopted from Apple’s Dark Sky acquisition.
The Apple Maps app has cycling directions for bike commuters and cyclists, with the directions taking into account elevation, how busy a street is, and whether there are stairs along the route. For those who own electric vehicles, there’s an option to route with EV charging stops customized for current vehicle and charger types.
The Home app is smarter with automation suggestions and Control Center quick access buttons, plus an Adaptive Lighting feature lets HomeKit lights adjust their color temperature throughout the day. On-device Face Recognition lets cameras and video doorbells tell users exactly who is at the door (based on People saved in Photos), and HomeKit Secure Video cameras support Activity Zones for the first time.
As a part of iOS 14, Apple is bringing new Apple Maps data to more countries including the U.K. The app itself in iOS 14 will make it easier to find great places using Guides which are automatically updated with new places.
Apple Maps is also getting a new Cycling directions option and it will also take your elevation into account to ascertain your ride experience. In selected countries, Apple is adding an option in Apple Maps to find EV charging stations as well.
New Translate App
There’s a new Apple-designed Translate app that provides text and voice translations to and from 11 languages. An On-Device Mode lets languages be downloaded for on-device translations only, and a Conversation Mode speaks translations aloud so users can talk with someone that speaks a different language, and it automatically detects the language being spoken and translates appropriately.
Supported languages include Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
Updated privacy protections require developers to get permission before accessing devices on a local network, and there are new options for limiting access to select photos or providing apps with only approximate location data. All apps are also required to get user permission before tracking them across websites, and new icons show up on the Home screen when an app is using a camera or microphone.
Later in the year, App Store product pages will include summaries of developers’ self-reported privacy practices provided in an easy-to-read format, and Apple is adding a feature that will allow existing accounts to be updated to Sign in with Apple. In Safari, Apple provides a Privacy Report that lets you know which website trackers are being blocked.
Apple is also adding Safari password monitoring that lets users know if a saved password has been involved in a data breach, along with a built-in Safari translation feature for webpages.
With iOS 14, AirPods can seamlessly and automatically switch between Apple devices with automatic device switching, and for AirPods Pro, there’s a new spatial audio feature for surround sound, complete with dynamic head tracking. iOS 14 also provides notifications when the battery in AirPods or AirPods Pro is close to dying.
When iOS 14 is released, the Find My app will include support for third-party products and accessories, so item trackers like Tile can be located directly in the Find My app.
There are dozens of tweaks and changes for other apps. Apple Arcade supports cross-platform saving, developers can make App Store subscriptions available for families, the Camera app has a new Exposure Compensation control, Photos has new organizational options, Reminders has smart suggestions and quick entry, and, for the first time, third-party email and browser apps can be set as default.
iOS 14 Compatibility
iOS 14 is compatible with the iPhone 6s and later, which means it runs on all devices able to run iOS 13. It is limited to registered developers at this time, but Apple plans to make a public beta available in July.
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone SE (2020)
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone 11
- 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 (2016)
- iPod touch (7th generation)
iOS 14 Release Date
Based on past releases, iOS 14 will be officially be released in the fall of 2020, likely in September alongside new iPhones, if new iPhones come in September in 2020.