Apple’s WWDC 2020 has finally arrived. The keynote is done and dusted and a hell of a lot was announced. From iOS 14 to Apple’s new custom silicon for Macs, we have quite a bit to cover.
iOS 14 has been revealed and it comes with a tonne of new features. We’re also happy to report that the leaks were correct — it will support all devices that can use iOS 13.
If you’re sick of swiping 40 times across your home screen, we have some good news for you.
iOS 14 is completely reorganising it with the introduction of App Library. You can move and group apps in a whole new way and even have App Library automatically organise them for you. If there are a bunch of apps you don’t want to see, or hardly use, you can hide them in wiggle mode.
App Library also can make suggestions on what to actually have on your home screen, based on what you use most.
If you’re wondering if there was a reason for all this extra screen real estate, you’re right. iOS 14 will really be pushing Widgets. It will allow you to add different widgets to their home screen in customisable sizes.
A new feature called Smart Stack will even let you place multiple widgets on top of one another so you can swipe through them. Smart Stack can also display widgets automatically on screen – like the latest news in the morning to a calendar alert in the afternoon.
A new version of Control Centre for further customisation is also making and appearance and the Notification Centre will allow for notifications and widgets to be grouped together.
Perhaps the coolest edition to iOS 14 (and one that has been begged for) is picture-in-picture. Video will play over the home screen, or apps, and can be dragged around as well as pinched to zoom. It will follow you between apps and you can even keep playing audio if you want the video entirely in the background.
Messages is also getting some new features outside of new memojis. Inline message replies will be a thing, so you can have reply threads or @ a specific person in a group chat. You will also be able to pin select chats if you want to keep your most used at the top of your conversation pile.
As for Siri, her biggest improvement relates to the new Translate app, which can even work offline thanks to Apple’s Neural Engine. Siri can now support more languages and Translate lets the user tap a mic icon and say something. They will receive text and audio back in the second language immediately.
Maps is also getting an upgrade to accommodate cyclists and EV drivers. We’re not sure how useful the latter will be in Australia considering how EVs are treated here. But we’ll see.
iOS 14 is adding a dedicated cycling option that will alert riders to roads, bike lanes and paths. It will also let you know if a ride will be uphill, on a busy road or if you’ll have to carry your bike upstairs. It will only be rolled out in limited cities in China and the U.S. for the time being.
EVs are also getting some attention. This maps feature aims to eliminate range anxiety by routing drivers via EV charging stations.
Customisable Guides are another new feature that lets users adds favourites to suggested places.
And after months of waiting for it to be added to iOS 13, it looks like CarKey won’t be dropping until later this year. It basically lets you unlock your car wirelessly from your iPhone or Apple Watch. It also has keyless start, meaning you can start the car by placing it over an NFC receiver built into a wireless charging pad.
It will be launching exclusively in the 2021 BMW 5 series, so don’t expect to see this functionality in your Toyota Corolla anytime soon.
As for other CarPlay updates – there will be some new wallpapers and apps that will help with finding parking, EV charges and food.
While we’re talking about apps, you will no longer have to use all of one. Yeah, you read that correctly.
This new feature is called App Clips. It let’s you use part of an app without even having to download the full thing. This really taps into the cleaner approach to the home screen and I like it. A good working example is being able to pay for a car park (it’s compatible with Apple Pay, of course) without having to download that parking app or entering your credit card info.
App Clips will be accessible by NFC tags, QR codes or the new Apple Clip Code.
Lastly, calls will no longer be full screen on iOS 14 or iPad OS so it “doesn’t take you out of context”. This will also be functional across some third party calling apps.
iPad is getting a lot of the same new features as iOS 14, but with a few fun extras. No App Library though.
Sidebar is first on the list. It basically makes it far easier to navigate and switch between apps such as Notes, Photos and Files. You can also drag and drop things like specific photos to move them to a folder.
Search is getting a new compact design that allow you to start from the home screen or over the top of any app. If you start typing you can scrub apps, documents and even web searches. We have already seen this functionality on macOS, but considering how hard Apple wants to push iPad as a workhorse, this addition makes sense.
The most visually cool change to iPad OS of course involves the Apple Pencil. The new Scribble functionality includes writing-to-text conversion in any text field – including the search bar. It can do this in multiple languages simultaneously which is super impressive. And if you write down a phone number or address it will let you tap to call or bring it up in Maps.
Shapes and lines can also be corrected to look less like something a small child scrawled.
These upgrades are awesome and I can’t wait to try them out.
We’ve been waiting years for a native sleep tracker for Watch OS. And it has finally arrived for the Series 5 Apple Watch.
It uses the accelerometer to detect micro-movements and heart rate. From there it can deliver you an on-wrist insights report in a dedicated section of the Health app in the morning.
New alarms are also being added, such as haptic. Apple also kind of made a big deal of being able to easily see how much battery you have left in the morning. I would think most people charge their Apple Watch overnight, but sure okay. If you’re a bed wearer, you will also now be able to set up nightly routines that coordinate with you phone – such as reducing screen time functionality and pushing you towards relaxation apps.
Watch Faces are also getting a bit of a… face lift. Not only are there new Faces, but you will be able to discover curated faces from third party apps. You can even send or receive your Watch Face to your contacts if you so wish.
The real win here is for developers, who can now provide multiple complications per app on any watch face.
On the workout side of things, the Activity app is being changed to Fitness. It comes with a new summary aesthetic that makes workouts, awards and trends a little easier to view.
You’ll also find better calorie tracking and algorithms for core training, cool downs and functional strength training.
And it wouldn’t be WWDC without a new work out — Dance. It combines accelerometer, gyroscope and heart rate data to track full body movement. As someone who has been categorising Just Dance as random exercises in iso, I’m keen for this.
Cycling was also called out as a continuation of iOS 14. WatchOS 7 will get the same cycling features in Maps. This includes travel time, bike lanes and elevation changes.
For anyone who uses the Noise app, which was introduced last year, it is getting a weekly notifications setting. This means that it can measure the ambient noise a across a week and let you know if you have been listening to too much loud stuff during that time.
And just remind us all that we’re in the darkest timeline, Apple Watch is getting a hand washing app. It will use ambient noise to auto-detect when it hears soopay washing noises and start a 20-second count down. Apparently these sounds will not be recorded or saved.
This feature can also prompt users to wash their hands when they get home.
AirPods are getting some extremely slick upgrades in 2020.
The first is something everyone can enjoy — switching between devices. AirPods will now go between devices seamlessly from simply picking one up, rather than messing about with bluetooth settings. So you could swap between watching something on your iPhone, iPad or laptop simply by interacting with them.
It will also switch the audio between devices if you need to take a call. So if you’re watching a movie on your iPad and your phone rings, the AirPods can switch over.
This new feature will be pushed out via a firmware update.
But the really shiny news belongs to the AirPods Pro, which is getting spacial audio. This will allow users to have a surround sound experience which “replicates the movie theatre experience.” It utilises the accelerometer and gyroscope to sync the audio with how your head and device are moving. Spacial audio will support 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos audio.
Not a huge amount of news for tvOS.
It’s getting multi-user support for Apple TV, which is interesting considering iPad doesn’t even have that — and it should. That being said, it’s limited to games for now.
It’s also getting picture-in-picture, Xbox Elite 2 and Adaptive Xbox One controller support and direct control of HomeKit accessories.
On the content front, a new Apple TV+ original was announced – Foundation. If you want to watch the trailer you’ll need to scrub back through the keynote because Apple hasn’t released it separately.
MacOS Big Sur
MacOS’ latest update finally has a name — Big Sur.
The new OS is designed to have more fluidity between Apple devices. It’s getting a lot of the same upgrades and functionality as iOS 14 — such as Widgets, Maps and the Notification Centre. And it really looks like an extension of a more portable device. It’s clearly being positioned to accommodate Apple’s new chipset as well, but we’ll get to that.
A whole lot has been reworked to be easier to see and interact with, including the Menu Bar and Sound Controls.
All of the new Message features from iOS 14, such an inline replies, will also work on Big Sur. You’ll even be able to pin conversations across devices.
You’ll find some new Mac Catalyst apps thrown into the mix.
The biggest change that we didn’t already see in iOS 14 is Safari. In addition to a cleaner look it will apparently run 50 per cent faster than Chrome (Apple really did throw that shade). It has a customisable start page and apparently has now discovered how tabs work.
Safari will also have a new API that will let users easily convert their extensions from other browsers.
On the privacy front, users will be able to access a tracking notification button that will show which sites are tracking them. A full privacy report is also available in the browser.
Another neat new feature will be dynamic in-site translation if you need to read something in another language.
We knew it was coming, but now its finally official. Apple is bringing its own ARM-based custom silicon processors to Macs.
Apple’s aim here is to use less power and have more commonality between all of its devices – from computers to phones. MacOS on these machines will be able to support iOS and iPadOS apps natively. There was a strong narrative during the keynote about how good this will be for developers. Apple says it will be easier to optimise across devices.
“Most apps will just work with no changes from developers,” Craig Federighi, SVP of Software Engineering at Apple, said.
Apple is confident that its own SoC will deliver improved performance despite being ARM-based. It demonstrated this with a quick demonstration of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, running on Big Sur. It looked pretty darn good.
Microsoft was also called out as a partner, with Office apps getting native updates for the new SoC. The new processor will also be able to run the likes of Photoshop and Lightroom. The former was specifically demonstrated in the keynote with a 5GB Photoshop PSD.
It’ll be a slow burn, though. While the first Apple Silicon Mac will arrive later in 2020, the transition period will be over two years. Tim Cook said during the keynote that it will continue to have Intel powered Macs during this time.
A developer transition kit for the new chipset will be available soon.
You can read more about the new processor here.
Apple always makes a big deal of privacy at WWDC. And this year is no different.
In addition to the new Safari privacy features, there will also now be disclosure prompts for apps. This allows users to see what type of data each app collects. App developers will now need to disclose what data type they use to track people online. This disclosure will appear on the app pages in every App Store so users can read it before they download.
Apps will now also need to request permission for cross-app tracking.
As for location sharing, users will be able to share a proxy location rather than coordinates. So you’ll be able to still use apps with geolocations without giving your exact location away.
And for anyone worried about recordings, a visual indicator will be added to iOS 14. This means that an orange light be be displayed if an app begins using your camera or microphone.
Apple used iso as a big excuse to talk about Apple Home and its new features.
Front and centre is Adaptive Lighting, which let’s you not only set different colours for different rooms, but also automate different colours. So you could, for example, have warm hues in the morning and then tone down the blue lights in the evening to encourage sleep.
There are also some new features for security cameras that allow users to set zones. For example, a specific line of site across your front yard that ignores busy activity behind it. Facial recognition is also being added, so your cameras will be able to tell who someone is if you have tagged them in Photos before.
This will be compatible with HomePod as well as Apple TV and will be supported through your device’s control centre.