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Apple has hosted its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) and this year it was unlike any event before. Held from June 22 to June 26, this year’s event was entirely digital due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and featured updates to iOS, iPad OS, Apple Watch and more.
Here’s an insight into what was announced at this year’s WWDC.
WWDC is one of the big-ticket events for Apple each year with a focus predominantly on software. This year the tech co unveiled updates to iOS, along with revisions to iPad OS which was unveiled as the dedicated iPad operating system only last year.
Now in its 14th revision, iOS is the game changing software found on Apple’s popular lineup of iPhones. This year’s update is all about ensuring users have access to the items they want more intuitively.
To facilitate this, Apple has introduced auto-generated apps on the Home Screen, allowing you to see all your frequently used apps in one simple space, and hide pages of apps you don’t really use. It also keeps these apps segmented in relevant categories like entertainment, social etc.
A widget gallery then takes this organisation a step further. Now you can add widgets to your Home Screen, and they’ve been redesigned to give you more information at a glance. Users can even choose from different sizes and arrange them however they like.
Apple has also introduced a little intelligence to this widget usage. Now users can add a ‘Smart Stack’ of widgets which means the ones they use most will show up at the time of day they’re likely to be utilised.
While the Home Screen and widgets were a major focus, iOS14 also delivers some neat changes to iMessage and calls. Calls from your iPhone, FaceTime and other third party apps will now show up in a compact screen rather than taking over the entire display and you can also keep watching videos or continue your FaceTime call while you use another app.
Meanwhile, messaging is also set to become more sorted, courtesy of pinned conversations. This feature allows users to pin up to nine conversations to the top of a conversation list, so they can be easily accessed.
Mentions have also been incorporated into iMessage, allowing users to type a name to direct a message at someone in a group conversation, and your name will be highlighted when you are mentioned.
Apple’s ever-accommodating virtual assistant Siri has a suite of news tools too as part of iOS14. She now boasts 20x more facts than she did three years ago, and will feature a more compact design.
Perhaps one of the most exciting reveals of iOS14 is that now users will soon be able to unlock and start their vehicle using their iPhone.
At the moment this capability is limited to the latest iPhones and only the BMW 5 series supports the feature, but effectively the technology will also enable users to share keys with family members virtually and will work up to five hours after your phone goes flat.
Last year Apple announced a dedicated operating system for iPads that is designed to make better use of the greater real estate available.
This year they have updated the software to further capitalise on iPad’s size and purpose.
To accommodate this, apps have been given sidebars and toolbars that consolidate controls in one place, making them more streamlined.
There are also new Apple Pencil features, including Scribble for iPad, which are designed to deliver a whole new way to work with handwritten notes.
Meanwhile iPadOS 14 also incorporates many of the new features of iOS14 such a compact phone calls, a new-look Siri, and better organisation of widgets and apps.
Although iOS and iPadOS were the major beneficiaries of software updates, AirPods also received some neat new features at WWDC. Now, if you’re watching a movie on your iPad using your AirPods and your iPhone rings, the AirPods will automatically switch from one device to the other.
AirPods also offer new intelligence that will cater to directional surround sound.
Also unveiled were updates to the Apple Watch software. Sleep tracking is the big new addition, while a hand-washing tracker has also been added, and users can now create their own watch faces.
The next Mac update is to be called Big Sur. With it comes new features such as the Control Centre found in iOS, a notification centre, and map improvements.
Safari has also been tweaked, with greater transparency about privacy including a focus on what information sites are actually accessing. Safari will also keep an eye on your passwords and monitor them for data breaches, and a new feature has been added to tab management that allows users to hover over a tab to see a preview of a page.
These are just some of the big reveals from WWDC 2020, and there are plenty more features that don’t even get a look in here. As always, Apple has stayed true to its ethos of constant innovation, with iOS14 and iPad OS likely to be publicly released in late September this year.