Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) has been online-only this year as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
But that hasn’t stopped it from hosting the usual array of exciting announcements.
This year’s event may not have brought with it any new hardware reveals, but its focus purely on system updates for Apple’s existing products means we did get our first look at iOS 14, Apple's new operating system.
So what’s new?
Cleaner home screens
Perhaps the biggest new addition will help you keep your iPhone’s apps in check.
App Library is a new space at the end of the home screen’s pages which automatically orders and stores apps in grouped blocks.
Tired of swiping through countless pages of cluttered icons and struggling to find the one you want? Library should put a stop to that, and is designed to make it easier to access apps.
Apps are intelligently ordered into categories, and through the use of AI and machine learning, your phone will even include a ‘Suggested’ section, based on the apps a user is most likely to want to use based on previous usage habits and time of day.
Widgets are also coming to iPhones for the first time – a feature long seen on other brands of smart phone – and allow you to pin small programs to your homescreen that can keep you updated on things like weather, and stock prices.
Picture-in-picture allows users to continue watching video or take a face time call while using another app, with the image reduced to a smaller, less intrusive window while doing so.
It’s nothing new, but as part of iOS 14, the feature is getting some key enhancements.
Why this isn’t already a feature on iOS devices – as it is on other brands’ machines – is baffling, but with the new update, FaceTime and audio calls (including those from third-party apps like WhatsApp) will display as banners at the top of the screen, instead of filling the entire display.
Unlock your car using CarKey
Cars running Apple’s CarPlay software will be able to make use of the new CarKey feature, which uses near field communication to allow the user to tap their phone against the car’s door handle to unlock the vehicle.
Drivers will will be required to authenticate their identity using facial recognition or the Touch ID sensor, but can set up an ‘Express Mode’ to skip the need for this authentication.
To start the car, simply place your iPhone on the car’s charging pad and push the ignition button.
The ‘key’ can even be turned off remotely if the driver’s iPhone is lost or stolen, and shared remotely with friends and family – allowing them to drive the car without having to cut a new physical key.
Not many cars support it just yet though; the new 2021 BMW 5 series, which goes on sale next month, will be the first car with the new technology.
Apple Maps cycling support
Apple Maps has given many drivers useful directions, but the new update will now allow it to deliver bespoke route suggestions to cyclists, taking into account bike lanes, paths and roads, including narrow passages and stairs that may not always be obvious.
Those with electric cars will also see similar support, with the ability to plan trips that take charging point locations into account.
Google’s Translate is the go-to tool for users looking to quickly decipher foreign phrases, and now Apple is taking it on with a version of its own.
The Translate app will translate conversations into 11 languages (English, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese, and Arabic) offline when required for trips abroad.
When will it be released?
The full version of iOS 14 won’t be available to download until later in the year.
Apple did not give an exact date, though new iOS versions tend to launch in mid-September, to coincide with new iPhones going on sale.
A beta preview version of the new system is available to download now, but only for those with a paid-for Apple developer account.
The public beta version will be available from July say Apple.