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iOS 14, WatchOS 7 & tvOS – WWDC 2020

WWDC 2020 not only introduced us to the new direction for the Mac with Apple Silicon & MacOS Big Sur, but rolled out big changes with iOS 14, WatchOS 7 and tvOS. 

iOS 14 features

iOS 14 Steals From Android – But Does Better

One of the biggest changes to iOS 14 is the introduction of Home Screen widgets, a long time Android feature. But before we slap those wildly gesticulating Android users with a plethora of features Apple had first, know that this is an Apple classic way of making things better. As opposed to the ad hoc, clumsy and disorganized way Android implements its widgets, Apple has made beautiful, organized widgets that fit beautifully within Apple’s design aesthetic. 

iOS 14 widgets

The widgets are designed for “information at a glance”, not full interactivity. Most apps will be able to be turned into a Widget, being able to take up a variety of sizes and spans that determine the amount of information displayed, but still conforming to the visual grid. A very interesting feature is that you can stack widgets, and using AI will show you which one it thinks you’re going to use. A simple swipe will allow you to rotate through them. 

Your Home Screen is undergoing other massive changes as well. First off, you have the ability to hide entire pages, a simple way of keeping things cleaner. The last page is now referred to as the App Library, it contains intelligently organized groups of all your apps, including recently added, Siri suggested, then categories. By tapping on the header, you get an alphabetical list of all your apps. 

iOS 14

Messages in iOS 14 Becoming Full Fledged Chat App

Big improvements to group chats are bringing Messages closer to Slack or Discord. Being able to use threads in messages, @-people and message pinning make for great upgrades. Group chats will feature new profile pic graphics, indicating who is in the chat, and showing who the most recent message is from. Memojies are getting more customization options of course. 

Siri Get’s Out Of The Way

Siri is getting a new interface makeover in iOS 14, and she’s getting the hell out of the way! Instead of taking up your entire screen, the colourful waveform graphic will appear in just the bottom. First blush, as a graphic artist, it looks terrible! Hopefully, they’ll polish it before launch. Siri has new translation powers, including a new landscape orientation two-party translation assistant.  You can send voice messages with Siri, and tell her to share your ETA with another party. 

Apple has expanded this “compact-UI” to the call interface as well. Again, instead of taking up the entire screen, an incoming call will appear as a notification at the top, at least while you’re using it. 

A Million iOS 14 Wee Tidbits

  • Maps are introducing cycling directions in major cities. Things like elevation gain, bike lanes and stairs are included. For those electric car drivers out there you can get a map of recharge stations along your route. Folks are rejoicing they can now set 3rd party defaults for mail and browser options.
  • FaceTime is now getting 1080p quality, the very cool AI correction of your eye tracking, and sign language detection.
  • The annual privacy enhancements are front and center; a new indicator shows you if the camera or microphone is enabled, you can have an app use an approximate location instead of a precise. The Safari privacy reports from Big Sur are present and accounted for. You can tell an app exactly what photos they can access instead of your entire library. And really pissing off advertisers, you can blanket block app tracking altogether, augmented by a soon to be implemented app by app privacy report in the App Store. 
  • Some really cool Accessibility features are coming as well! For people with hearing impairments, the phone will be able to listen for things like babies crying, door knocking, doorbells, and even distinguish between types of sirens. Another cool feature is the ability to detect a finger tap on the back of the phone,  a single or double tap can be mapped to several functions. 

  • The ability to tweak audio for various hearing issues has been introduced as well. AirPods will get really cool spatial audio enhancements, using the sensors to determine your head position and changing audio direction to accommodate. Furthermore, with AirPods, they will automatically switch between your devices now, following you as you change between your Mac, iPhone or iPad. 
  • A nice thing for folks that use Voice Memos, there will be an audio enhancement button that gets rid of background noise and echo. You can now use folders to organize your memos as well. 
  • Apple purchased the Dark Sky weather app and has implemented features such as hour-by-hour, and daily precipitation, severe weather alerts and sudden weather change alert. 
  • iPhones and iPads can now stream 4k video from youtube, finally taking advantage of our beautiful screens. 
  • App Store subscriptions are now sharable between family members. 

WatchOS 7 Get Sleepy

WatchOS 7 brings even more interesting Faces to the mix, as well as the ability to share a custom layout with your contacts. With this, you can also download custom curated Faces from the 3rd parties. The ability to add multiple complications from a single app makes your Faces even richer. 

WatchOS 7 New Faces

With Apple’s increasing focus on our health, sleep tracking has been introduced natively on the Apple Watch. The watch will use sensors to monitor your quality of sleep, giving you a full report. During sleep, it will turn on Do Not Disturb, keeping you from waking you up. Before bed, the watch will prompt you to wind down, dimming your lights through HomeKit, suggesting any meditation apps, then remind you about your bedtime when it’s time to hit the hay. A nice suite of wake up sounds is also there, giving you a wake-up notice and things like weather report to start your day. 

A bunch of new workouts can be tracked, Functional Strength Training, Core Training, post-workout Cooldown and most notably, Dance.. not all Apple employees should dance on camera… and you better believe that’s the pot calling the kettle black.. my wife reminds me many times I have ZERO rhythm… prolly not a feature I’ll be making use of.

via GIPHY

WatchOS 7 will also bring your activity viewer onboard, renamed Fitness. The cycling features from Maps also comes to Apple Watch. Siri functions are also processed onboard a lot more, making it more private and faster. 

A nice Accessibility feature that watches out for your ears is coming, a weekly summary of loud noises, and a warning if you have exceeded doctors’ recommended noise limits. 

A sign of the times is making its way to our wrists with a new Handwashing feature. The watch is able to detect the sounds of running water and suds and automatically start an animated time to help you in proper handwashing!

AppleTV Brings The Big Shows

AppleTV will be getting an update with tvOS 13, gaining multi-user support. Based on AppleID’s, it’s easy to switch between and have access to your stuff, music and Apple Arcade for instance. New home screen layout, control center and picture in picture ability are coming as well. If you are a karaoke fan, dynamic lyrics are coming to AppleTV Music app as well! Time to party!

But, what made nearly the entire WWDC 2020 Keynote was the unveiling of the much-anticipated trailer for Issac Asimov’s Foundation, based on what is basically the greatest science fiction story ever told…

WWDC 2020 Was Incredible

The announcement of the switch to Apple Silicon, the near merging of iOS and MacOS in MacOS Big Sur, and a feature-rich iOS 14 made this WWDC Keynote a truly momentous one indeed. My hope is one day we will return the off the cuff, not completely scripted hay days of Steve Jobs lead WWDC, but I’m not sure if that is going to happen. A lot of folks, including myself did actually prefer the pre-recorded keynote as it provided a much richer variety of scenes and seemed to be a better format then the stage show. Contact us if you have any questions regarding iOS 14! 

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Ryszard (Rick) Gold, From Calgary, Alberta, Canada has over 20 years of experience working with Apple products in a technical capacity. Passionate about technology in general, his natural troubleshooting abilities, curiosity and appreciation of good design lead him into working exclusively with Apple Computer products.
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