MY THOUGHTS ON IOS 14 AND WHAT’S NEW

Apple hosted its WWDC event on 22 June 2020 which was basically just a pre-recorded production whereby Tim Cook and company introduced new software updates across all their platforms. Though, it has to be said that the video production of this Livestream was incredible.

The standout from this event was obviously the updates to Apple’s most popular product, the iPhone. This is the usual formula for Apple in terms of their announcement & release schedule as the new version of iOS is always announced just a few months before the new version of the iPhone is announced, which in this case is the iPhone 12 versions. This is so that developers can begin preparing and optimising their apps so that everything is ready once the new iPhone releases.

Before I begin, I just have to state that it is impossible to speak about these new features in iOS 14 without the topic of Android being brought up or without comparing these features to that of Android. I am a huge fan of Apple and more often than not I am the guy who makes excuses for some of their decisions because I do feel that I understand them well enough since I have been using Apple products long before even the iPhone was a thing. So it isn’t easy for me to pick at them because I am a huge fan of what they do and their products. Unfortunately, sometimes I do feel that limit us a bit too much.

I’ve seen that a lot of people are incredibly excited about these new iOS 14 features and even though I do welcome them, I’m not particularly as impressed as everyone else. This is due to the fact that together with my iPhone, I also carry the latest Android smartphone with me as well and this event really put into perspective how limited iOS has been over this decade. Basically, almost every “new” feature that Apple announced in iOS 14 has been available on Android devices for years and years. Some have even been available since Android’s inception over a decade ago. It just confuses me when I see Apple make a huge deal about a new feature that they introduce when I have been using that feature for years on my Android devices.

Anyway, I digress. I do understand that Apple always delays certain functionality and eventually when they do implement it, they do a good job. And I’m sure that the millions of iPhone users will definitely appreciate these features. That being said, please be aware that there will be some occasional comments 🤦‍♂️.

I hope I don’t miss anything but after watching the entire event live, this is what iOS 14 will be bringing for iPhone users:

WIDGETS

The main and standout feature of IOS 14 is definitely the introduction of Widgets. Well its about time.

I do give Apple some points for at least putting their own spin on it and I admit that after using it for a few days, the implementation and use does feel different than what we’ve had on Android. There definitely isn’t a lot of customisation options but I don’t feel that iPhone users need that at all. You will now be able to select widgets for a particular app and choose from a small, medium and large variation of that app’s widget and place that on one of your home screen pages alongside your app icons.

Widgets can be added to the Today view and can then be dragged over to any of your home screens.

A widget feature which i found unique is the Smart Stack widget. This widget will use on-device intelligence to choose the right widget to display based on your activity, where you are and the time of the day. I can see this being useful.

Since the beginning, every iPhone users’ devices would all look the same so it is a relief to know that users can finally add their own touch to their iPhones.

So yes, it is a good addition in my opinion despite the 10 year + wait…

APP LIBRARY

Sticking with the redesigned home screen, Apple introduced the App Library interface which intelligently organises all your installed apps into folders. Your newly downloaded apps can also live in this App Library or can be added to your home screen as usual.

SIRI & CALL OVERLAYS

One of the most annoying things when using an iPhone are when you are using your smartphone and you want to use Siri or there’s an incoming call, you cannot continue using your phone because the entire screen becomes occupied. You have to wait for a phone call to end or cut the call to continue using your iPhone. The same thing goes for Siri, while using Siri, the entire screen is filled up.

You now interact with Siri while continuing on with whatever you are doing as Siri will pop up as an overlay rather than take you to the Siri screen.

For calls, you now get an overlay like we’ve had on Android since the beginning which isn’t intrusive and can just be swiped away.

Again, this is a welcomed feature but it is difficult to understand how it took so long to be released.

PICTURE IN PICTURE

This has been available on iPads and Macs so I’m not sure why it took so long to come to the iPhone.

Picture in Picture allows users to continue watching a video while doing other things on their iPhone. For example, you can have a Netflix movie pop up on your screen that will display on top of other apps which can be moved around the screen. This is great when you want to watch a video while browsing through social media or just for multitasking in general. This will work for FaceTime as well.

You will also be able to pin the video off to the side of the screen while still having the audio playing at times when you need to see more of the screen which is neat.

APP CLIPS

This is a great feature. App Clips will allow users to make use of the features of a particular app without the need to download the full version of the app.

For example, you would be able to call a car to pick you up or make a restaurant reservation without the need to download the full versions of those apps. Users will be able to also take advantage of these clips by using QR codes and NFC tags.

MESSAGES

In South Africa, Apple’s messages app is basically just used as an SMS client but in lets say, the USA, Messages is the main chat app like we use WhatsApp over here. So I dont think this will be huge for us but nonetheless, APple has made some upgrades.

Nothing revolutionary has been added here and a lot of the features are already present in apps like WhatsApp such as inline replies, the ability to mention users in a group chat in messages or the ability to pin important chats to the top of the list but they are good updates for users.

One area that I do feel Messages does excel in is their interface and how the app handles actions using animations and graphics.

SIRI

Siri will now be smarter than ever and will be able to access more information across the internet to give you better responses to a wider range of questions.

You can now also use Siri to send audio messages.

MEMOJI

This is probably the feature that I have used least since its release with. The iPhone X a few years ago.

If this is something you like, you’ll be happy to know that Memojis now have a revamped facial and muscle structure so they will look more realistic and be more expressive than ever.

There are also some new additions such as more ages, hairstyles, accessories, stickers and your Memoji can have a face mask because why not..

APPLE MAPS

There is now a new Curated Guides feature which will make exploring and finding new places to eat and visit easier.

Cyclists will be happy to know that cycling directions have been added to maps which will tell them when they would need to use stairs along their route, how busy areas along their route are and navigation will also take into account elevation which is quite impressive.

If you have an electric car, you will be able to choose an option which will set up the best route for you and will include all the EV charging stops along the way which matches your particular vehicle model.

CARPLAY

Not only will you now be able to order food, have parking apps and apps for your electric vehicle but you will also be able to change the wallpaper in your CarPlay dashboard 🙃.

Users will be able to unlock their cars and start them with their iPhone. Unlocking your car will also be possible while your iPhone is in your bag or pocket with the new and upcoming iPhone and Apple Watch.

Another feature that was available with Android devices is the ability to have your iPhone act as your cars remote and key.

WEATHER APP

One of my favourite weather apps on my iPhone was called Dark Sky. This app was acquired by Apple and now the weather app has some neat features which were part of Dark Sky.

You can now get better readings and data on precipitation and get severe weather event information.

You can manage your Car Key functionality via iCloud and can also disable a device if it is stolen.

HEALTH APP

You can now track your sleep with your Apple Watch which is something i have been waiting for.

There is also a new Health Checklist for managing features such as Medical ID, Emergency SOS, Fall Detection and ECG.

NEW SECURITY & PRIVACY FEATURES

This is an area that Apple excel in. They are always adding new privacy and security features that allow users to control their data.

You will now be able to give apps access to an approximate location rather than your actual location. Apps will now ask to track you across websites. Developers will need to request permission before accessing any devices on your local network. You will also be able to only provide access to certain photos rather than your entire library.

You will also know when an app is using your microphone or your camera.

The app store will also start displaying the self-reported privacy practices from developers on app pages. When using Safari, you will be provided with a Privacy Report which will tell you which website trackers are locked. Safari will also be able to tell you when a saved password may have been breached.

AIRPODS

Useful features are also coming to AirPods and AirPods Pro.

Your AirPods will be able to seamlessly switch between devices automatically which in my case will be very handy. This means that you can, for example, be using your iPhone with your AirPods and then switch to using your iPad and the connection of your AirPods will automatically switch over to the iPad. Currently, you have to manually connect to your AirPods from each device you start using.

There is also a new Spatial Audio feature coming to AirPods Pro which will bring surround sound with dynamic head tracking.

THE FIND MY APP

The Find My app will now support third-party products so you can track your Apple products and all your other products from third-party manufacturers.

SET DEFAULT APPS

Yet another feature that we have been waiting for is the ability set third-party apps as the default which has also been possible on Android for a while.

You will now be able to set a third-party internet browser and email client as defaults which is an essential in my case.

AVAILABILITY

IOS 14 will be available for the iPhone 6s and later. Apple has always been great at supporting older devices for years ahead and that is something that cannot said about Android manufacturers.

So basically, if your iPhone runs iOS 13 already, it can definitely support and be upgraded to iOS 14.

MY CONCLUSION

SO yes, iOS 14 is definitely a huge update for iPhone even though what it brings isn’t revolutionary at all. New features, improvements and updates are always going to be a good thing. iPhone users generally aren’t doing any intense tasks or have the type of usage that I have so the gripes I have wouldn’t even be noticed by them so I do get Apple’s play.

That being said, even though I do feel this update is really good for iPhone users and I will be benefitting from it, I do feel that we are owed a lot more of these smaller features which are available on other operating systems because once you add all of them up, it is quite significant.

Anyway, iOS 14 is currently only available to developers but there should be a public version that should be available sometime in July.

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