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Apple WWDC 2020 had three main consumer announcements. The next version of iOS 14; iPadOS 14; as well as its biggie – that Macs are going ARM processor-based starting at the end of the year.

As predicted, Apple WWDC 2020 made no hardware announcements. Likely due to supply chain issues it (and the entire tech industry) faces as factories and suppliers gear up post-COVID-19.

We covered the Mac changes here. It is great that years of speculation about the merging of macOS and iOS are over. Most analysts see the move as a good one.

iOS14 updates (Preview website here. Spring release for iPhone 6s and later)

The biggest change is to Home Screen pages. Redesigned widgets, App Library, a new way to tap into the App Store with App Clips, updates to Messages, and more. 

The new widgets are pinnable in different sizes on any Home Screen page. Users can create a Smart Stack of widgets, which uses on-device intelligence to surface the right widget based on time, location, and activity.

You can customise Home Screen pages can display widgets for work, travel, sports, entertainment, and other areas of interest. At the end of the Home Screen pages is the App Library, a new space that organises all of a user’s apps into view, and intelligently surfaces apps that may be helpful at the moment. Users can choose how many Home Screen pages to display and easily hide pages for quick access to the App Library. 

Incoming FaceTime and phone calls and Siri interactions have a new compact design that enables users to stay in the context of what they are doing. With Picture-in-Picture support, iPhone users can now watch a video or make a FaceTime call while using another app.

iOS 14 app privacy improved. Any app requesting tracking requires user permission. Users can upgrade existing accounts to Sign in with Apple, choose to share their approximate location with app developers rather than their precise location when granting an app location access and get more transparency into an app’s use of the microphone and camera.

Apple WWDC 2020

Additional iOS 14 Features

  • Quick on-device translation mode for 11 languages.
  • Siri can now send audio messages. Keyboard dictation runs on-device when dictating messages, notes, email, and more.
  • The Home app makes smart home control easier with new automation suggestions and expanded controls in Control Center for quicker access to accessories and scenes. Adaptive Lighting for compatible HomeKit-enabled lights automatically adjusts the colour temperature throughout the day. With on-device Face recognition, compatible video doorbells and cameras can identify friends and family. Information about a user’s home accessories is end-to-end encrypted. 
  • AirPods gain the ability to seamlessly switch between Apple devices Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking brings a theatre-like experience to AirPods Pro. By applying directional audio filters, and subtly adjusting the frequencies each ear receives, sounds can be virtually anywhere in a space to provide an immersive listening experience.
  • Digital car keys give users a secure way to use iPhone or Apple Watch to unlock and start their car. Digital car keys can be easily shared using Messages or disabled through iCloud if a device is lost, and are available starting this year through NFC.
  • Find My adds support for finding third-party products and accessories with the new Find My network accessory program. This will allow customers to use the Find My app to locate other important items. A draft specification is available for accessory makers and product manufacturers.
  • Safari offers a Privacy Report – identifies cross-site blocked trackers, secure password monitoring to help users detect saved passwords used in a data breach, and built-in translation for entire webpages. 
  • Health has all-new experiences. Manage sleep, better understand audio levels that may affect hearing health, and a new Health Checklist. It is a central place to manage health and safety features. Includes Emergency SOS, Medical ID, ECG, Fall Detection, and more. Health also adds support for new data types for mobility, Health Records, symptoms, and ECG (not for Australia).
  • The Weather app and widget keep users up to date on severe weather events, and a new next-hour precipitation chart shows minute-by-minute precipitation when rain is in the forecast.
  • Accessibility features include:
    • Headphone Accommodations (H1 chip devices only), which amplifies or dampens certain frequencies to help music, movies, phone calls, and podcasts sound crisper and clearer
    • Sign language detection in Group FaceTime, which makes the person signing more prominent in a video call.  
    • VoiceOver, the industry’s leading screen reader for the blind community, now automatically recognises what is displayed visually onscreen, so more apps and web experiences are accessible to more people.

IPadOS 14 (Preview website here)

iPadOS is a variant of iOS for larger tablets where the screen size is not an issue. So it gets all of iOS new feature plus

Incoming FaceTime and phone calls appear as a lightweight banner – tap to answer the call or flick to dismiss. Siri is at the bottom of the screen when activated.

Apple WWDC 2020

Search will locate and launch apps to accessing contacts, files, and quick information, get answers to common questions about people or places. Users can start a search from anywhere, without having to leave the current app.

Redesigned sidebars across many apps, including Photos, Files, Notes, Calendar, and Apple Music, consolidate navigation into a single place. Streamlined toolbars and new pull-down menus provide access to app controls all in one place. 

iPadOS 14 brings Scribble to iPad with Apple Pencil. It allows users to write in any text field — where it will automatically be converted on-device to typed text. This makes actions like replying to an iMessage or searching in Safari easier.  Shape recognition allows users to draw shapes that are made geometrically perfect and snap into place.

Data detectors now work with handwritten text to recognise phone numbers, dates, and addresses, and offer users the ability to take actions like tapping a written number to make a call, adding an event directly to Calendar, or showing a location in Maps. 

Scribble initially has support for English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, and mixed Chinese and English, so users can write English and Chinese words together without needing to switch languages. 

ARKit 4 delivers a new Depth API that allows developers to access even more precise depth information captured by iPad Pro LiDAR Scanner. New features include taking body measurements for more accurate virtual try-on, or testing how paint colours will look before painting a room. ARKit 4 also introduces Location Anchors which leverage the higher resolution data of the new map in Apple Maps, where available, to pin AR experiences to a specific point in the world.