Apple concluded its first-ever virtual-only WWDC in June 2020. The power-packed keynote included iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, watchOS 7, macOS Big Sur, a transition to Apple Silicon chip on Mac, new AirPods features, and much more. Let us take a closer look at each of the announcements and the new features it brings to the table.
The iPhone maker moved WWDC to a digital format for this year’s event after the coronavirus pandemic forced Apple to cancel the in-person conference. Apple unveiled updates to operating systems across its ecosystem of products and confirmed plans to end its long-running partnership with Intel, which previously manufactured processors for Mac computers.
The primary update to the iPhone operating system is its App Library, which categorizes apps on a user’s phone based on their function. For example, Facebook and Twitter would list under a social media tab while Apple TV+ and Netflix will list under entertainment.
Last year Apple debuted iPadOS, a new version of operating system optimized for iPad. The latest iteration gains a ton of important features like Sidebar inside apps, smaller call screen, and redesigned Siri. Also, Apple Pencil gets new features that allow users to insert text by using hand-writing in various apps including Safari, and Reminders.
Searching stuff on your iPad has now become easier, thanks to the improved universal search feature. You can now find apps, contacts, documents, and search within apps. iPadOS 14 also packs in a slew of UI changes like a non-intrusive call notification and full-screen Apple Music. Check out all the new iPadOS 14 features.
Apple said its latest operating system for Mac devices was built for smooth integration with its new processors over the next two years and beyond. The update’s primary features included a refreshed version of Safari. The browser will run faster and be more customizable, with a variety of downloadable widgets available in the App Store.
watchOS 7 marks its entry with new home screen features, fitness features, and the much-awaited sleep tracking feature. Apple Watch users can now create rich complications and share it with their friends and family. On the fitness front, the Workout App now offers a new Dance workout and a cooldown feature for Core workouts.
The Sleep Tracking feature works in tandem with the Bedtime feature. Apple Watch display will automatically be turned off in Sleep Mode while the alarm will not play any sound and will be haptic based. In the wake of COVID-19, watchOS 7 comes with a Handwashing feature that reminds users to wash hands and sets a 20-second timer for doing so.
The latest tvOS 14 comes with new features including better support for HomeKit accessories, audio sharing, picture-in-picture mode, and Home app support. Apple has introduced a new way that allows tvOS to directly control HomeKit accessories. Audio sharing with AirPod has been considerably improved and Photos app now supports 4K video streaming.
Apple TV users will also get multi-user support and will be able to resume their respective gameplay for the Apple Arcade game. Lastly, tvOS 14 now supports the Adaptive Xbox One controller.
In a major decision, the tech giant said it would ditch the Intel processors that have long powered Macs and roll out computers made with Apple chips. The first Mac computers with Apple chips will be released later this year as a part of a transition that is expected to take about two years. The switch is meant to make Mac devices more energy efficient, ensuring better performance and battery life.
Mac computers will be able to run apps originally made for the iPhone and iPad. Developers will able to develop apps that work on all Apple hardware. Apple’s new operating system, Big Sur, was built for integration with the new processors to allow for a smooth transition. Apple computers had used Intel processors for the last 15 years.
“From the beginning, the Mac has always embraced big changes to stay at the forefront of personal computing. Today we’re announcing our transition to Apple silicon, making this a historic day for the Mac,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “With its powerful features and industry-leading performance, Apple silicon will make the Mac stronger and more capable than ever. I’ve never been more excited about the future of the Mac.”
New AirPods Features
Apple has announced a bunch of new features for AirPods and AirPods Pro. The AirPods will now automatically switch between iCloud devices depending on which device the audio is originating. For instance, if a call comes while watching a movie on iPad then the AirPods will automatically switch to the call. The feature requires devices to be connected to the same iCloud account.
AirPods Pro gets a Spatial Audio Feature that simulates movie theatre sound. The technology uses motion tracking to alter the sound as your iPhone moves. It works with video and audio tracks that support Dolby 5.1/7.1. The new AirPods Pro features will only be available on devices that run iOS 14/iPadOS 14.
Apple’s smart home platform will now utilize facial recognition software. It will allow users to see who’s at the door through their smart doorbells and cameras. Users can also adjust the lighting in their homes. Apple touted security, noting that its Home App and HomeKit utilize end-to-end encryption to protect customers.
Apple is partnering with Amazon, Google and other tech leaders to set up a smart home network. This will enable easier use of the burgeoning technology.
Another addition is App Clips, a feature that allows immediate loading of a pared-down version of certain apps for easier access. App Clips is meant to streamline day-to-day tasks such as ordering coffee.
Other updates include picture-in-picture functionality for video, an improved Apple Maps with a special view for cyclists and a Translate app that works in real time.
Apple reiterated its long-running stance that user privacy is a core feature of its products. The App Store will display a short summary of an app developer’s privacy practices, including the degree to which they have access over a user’s iPhone microphone and camera.