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What’s New in Apple’s Latest Series of Software Updates; The iOS 14 (iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, AirPods, etc.)

Tech giant Apple recently held its WWDC developers conference online due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the conference over, we have learned from Apple the new features coming with the iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and so much more sometime this fall. Apple also announced the new macOS 11 Big Sur and the transition it will make to ARM-based silicon chips in future MacBooks.

iOS 14

Let’s get into what we expect from Apple in this series of software updates;

What’s Coming with the iOS 14 Software Updates

Widget Support

Widgets have become a staple on the iPhone since the launch of the iOS 12. These handy features are now making their way into smartphone’s home screens. Once users update to the iOS 14, they will be able to drag widgets right out of a widget gallery and place them anywhere they like on their home screens.

Widget Support

Users will also be able to change the size of their widgets (once they are offered different size options by their developer). In the latest WWDC developers conference, Apple introduced what it termed the “Smart Stack” widget. This “Smart Stack” widget allows you to swipe between various widgets on your iPhone’s home screen.

If one is not interested in scrolling through the different widgets, The “Smart Stack” widget can be set to change automatically at different times of the day.

You could decide to set it so as to get the weather forecast as you wakeup, get the traffic conditions as you’re about leaving for work, check your investments and stocks at lunch, and then have access to the news and smart home control after the workday is finished.

Automatic Grouping and App Library

The new iOS 14 will also come along with a better app organization than its predecessors. Apps will automatically be sorted and grouped into an App library, as opposed to a bunch of pages or folders that are never looked at.

Automatic Grouping

Apps will be dropped into a named category box that makes it easier to sort through. This setup gives you the ability to make your essential apps a priority by putting them on the home screen, while other apps get sorted in the App library.

App Library

This is a bit similar to Android’s App Drawer, with the difference being that the App library will be found on the right side of the last home page. However, the Android App Drawer is found by swiping up on the home screen. An added advantage is that this makes it easier for the user to clean up the home screen, as any page that needs to be hidden is checked off.

Major Redesign of the Siri Interface

Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant has quickly become a household name. Since its launch on iOS, it has had a full-screen interface that covers the entire smartphone. Apple does away with this feature in the iOS 14, instead, users will see Siri’s animated logo being displayed at the bottom of their smartphone screen.

You can see a picture of this below. When the animated logo is displayed, it indicates that Siri is listening.

iOS 14 Siri Interface

This same redesign is also applied to results gotten from Siri.

iOS 14 Results from Siri

Instead of users being taken away from the app or screen they are presently looking at to the former virtual assistant result page, the built-in assistant displays all results as a small floating graphic at the top part of the screen.

Inline Replies, Pinned Messages, Mentions

With its new update, Apple makes it easier for users to keep track of the most important and favorite conversations in their messages. With the new iOS 14, conversations will be able to be swiped over and also pinned to the top of the app.

iOS 14 Messaging App

Another feature the iOS 14 brings to the app is the ability to jump into a chat by tapping on the contact’s photo, instead of getting a text preview. Furthermore, in order to step away from the feel and look of a standard texting app and moving towards a chat app, the tech giant has decided to enhance group messaging.

Users of the iOS 14 will now be able to mention specific people in group chats and send inline messages. These two features should help users not to have messages that are directed at them get lost in conversations that comprise of a lot of talkative people.

Another feature to be added to group chats is the ability for users to set custom photos and emojis to help identify each group. While this might not seem like much of an improvement, Apple took it a step further by adding that once the image is set at any picture but the default, participant’s avatars appear around the group photo.

Furthermore, these avatars will change in size whoever was the latest person to send a message to the group.  In addition to all this, Apple is also adding several new customization features and memojis. These additions include 20 new hair and headwear styles (like the bicycle helmet).

The Silicon Valley Company is also adding several age options, three memoji stickers, and facemasks. Chatting just got a lot cooler.

Support for Picture-in-Picture on iPhones

Picture-in-Picture (PiP) is a feature that gives you the ability to start a video and then continue to perform other tasks while still watching the video as a floating window. This feature has been available for the iPad, but iOS 14 brings it to the iPhone.

Picture-in-Picture on iPhones

The PiP feature on the iPhone will also enable users to move the floating window off-screen should they require the full display. As users do this, the audio of the video will still continue to play.

Apple Maps Cycling Navigation

Apple Maps has been offering turn-by-turn navigation since its inception. It previously offered navigation for travel by public transit, car, or on foot. The iOS 14 adds a new dimension to Apple Maps with users being able to get navigations for cycling.

Apple Maps Cycling Navigation

Apple Maps allow users to select from multiple routes, which is similar to Google Maps. With this new update, users will be able to check if routes have dedicated bike lanes and also check elevation change. Apple Maps will alert users to routes that have a steep incline or a set of stairs.


A New Translation App

Apple in an effort to keep up with Google included a translate app with the new iOS 14 update. Apple’s translate app comes with a conversation mode that permits two people to speak into the iPhone, allow the iPhone to detect the spoken language, and finally write out the translated version.

iOS 14 Translation App

Because Apple focuses on privacy, all conversations and translations are done on the device and not sent to the cloud.


App Clips

Apple has added a feature with the iOS 14 that will allow developers to create smaller clips that will offer basic functionality without users downloading the full App. These App Clips are basically the lite version of the apps.

App Clips on iOS 14

Apple displayed this new feature with a scooter company. In the demonstration users instead of downloading the vehicle’s full app, will be able to tap an NFC tag and open the App Clip. They would then enter a little information, pay, and start riding.

This feature is advantageous for users that would like to use an app only once and for those that have maxed out their data cap.


Transfer Your Login to “Sign in With Apple”

Apple introduced the “Sign in With Apple” feature a year ago. It is supposed to be more privacy-focused that signing in with Google or Facebook. It was stated during the conference that the option had become really popular.

Sign in With Apple

With the new iOS 14 update, Apple gives users the option of transferring the login used in an alternative option to “Sign in With Apple”.

Default Email and Browser Apps Setting

Rumors before the WWDC keynote speech led the world to believe that Apple would allow iPhone users the ability to set other third-party apps as default apps.

Even though this feature was never mentioned during the conference, Joanna Stern of Wall Street Journal fame spotted the above mention of the feature.

iPad OS 14

It has been a year since its split from the iOS and the iPadOS 14 is truly growing into being its own operating system. The tech giant made several changes to this operating system over the course of the last several months. Touchpad and mouse support are a few of the features added.

iPadOS 14

The iPadOS 14 focuses on a lot of changes that the user can see. This should make the tablet a machine to be reckoned with. For starters, most of the features that were announced for the iOS 14 will make their way to the iPadOS 14 also.

Here are the features that will be exclusive to the iPadOS 14;

New Call Screen

As with its virtual assistant Siri, incoming calls to the iPad will no longer take over the full screen. However, a small notification box appears on the top of the screen, where users can easily reject or accept calls without leaving whatever the user was doing.

Call Notification Box on iPadOS 14

This feature, Apple states, will be made available for FaceTime calls, voice calls that were forwarded from an iPhone, and other third-party apps.

Universal (Floating) Search

As with Siri and incoming calls, the spotlight search is getting a major redesign. It will no longer take over the whole screen. Users will be able to call up this new design from the home screen and within their apps.

Universal Search on iPadOS 14

Furthermore, universal search is being added to the search feature. Users will be able to search for information within their apps as well as online.

Apple Pencil Support in Text Boxes

Users of the Apple pencil can now rejoice as a new feature called Scribble has been added. This feature gives users the ability to “scribble” out a word or two in text boxes and allow the iPad to convert it into text. This is opposed to tapping a box and typing it in with a keyboard.

Scribble on iPadOS 14

Additionally, the new update will make it easier to edit and format handwritten notes.  Furthermore, with the ability to add space in a document and move handwritten text, its users will be able to copy their handwriting and paste it in a document as a typed text.

For users that like to doodle and draw shapes in their notes, the iPadOS 14 will be able to detect the shapes and convert them into images while it retains the size and color of the shapes.

watchOS 7

Even though the watchOS 7 does not come with a lot of major changes like the iOS 14 and the PadOS 14, it comes with user-facing features that will please a lot of people.

watchOS 7

Also, some iPhone new features like the cycling navigation feature will be included in the watchOS 7.

Sleep Tracking

Apple finally adds sleep tracking to the Apple Watch as can be seen in the picture below.

Sleep Tracking Feature

Even though the company did not give details about how the tracking will work, but users will be able to see the total time they spent in REM sleep. Also, they will be able to see how many times they tossed and turned during their sleep.


Watchface Sharing

Even though Apple isn’t allowing users or other developers create watch faces, the new watchOS 7 allows users to share watch faces with other people.

Watchface Sharing

If you have on-screen app widgets that others might like, you can now share these with them. And if the other person does not have any of the apps installed, they will be prompted to download it.

Activity App’s Name Gets Changed

The activity app on both the iPhone and Apple watch has grown and gained more functionality over the years and as such, it is only fitting that Apple renames it to Fitness.

Activity App is now Fitness App

This rebranding will help communicate the purpose of the app to new users who are unfamiliar with it.


Hand Washing Detection

Everyone should have learned how to wash their hands properly during this pandemic. But if you still find this activity tasking, the watchOS 7 is here to help you.

Hand Washing Detection

When the Apple watch is updated it will use its series of sensors to detect when its user is washing their hands. A countdown timer will be displayed and a prompt to tell the user to keep washing if he or she stops too soon.

Spacial Audio and Automatic Switching for AirPods

With the new software update, when AirPods are paired with an Apple device, they will be able to track the source of the music when you turn your head artificially.

Spacial Audio for AirPods

The tech giant did not specify which of its AirPods models will receive this spacial audio feature. However, it will work with audio that has been designed for 5.1, 7.1, and Atmos surround systems.

Furthermore, automatic switching between iPhone, iPad, and Mac is being added. If the users AirPods are paired with their iPhones, once they bring out their iPad and open a video or audio, the AirPods will immediately make the switch between the devices.

CarPlay Customization and Car Controls

CarPlay is getting a few changes with the software update. Users can now change the wallpaper on the infotainment software. Apple is also adding options like Locate parking and order food.

CarPlay Customization

For users with electric vehicles, Apple is also adding options like find electric vehicle charging stations. Apple Maps will work in conjunction with it to keep track of how many miles the electric vehicle has left and direct users to charging stations.

Apple also stated that it is working with several car manufacturers to let the iPhone work as a wireless key/remote which opens and starts a car. Also, it is working on making the handset perform these features without the need for users to take the device out of their pockets, bags, or purses.

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