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Apple announces iOS 14 with home-screen widgets, PiP mode, and better iMessage

Apple's iOS 14 brings a tonne of new features, including the home screen widgets and the Picture-in-Picture mode. But there is more to that operating system.

twitter-logoShubham Verma | June 23, 2020 | Updated 00:44 IST

Highlights

  • Apple has finally launched the iOS 14 at the WWDC 2020.
  • The iOS 14 brings the home screen widgets and PiP mode.
  • It is expected to roll out later this year with the iPhone 12 launch.

Apple has announced the next generation of the operating system for the iPhone, the iOS 14 at the first online-only WWDC held at the Steve Jobs Park in California. The iOS 14 brings the most-awaited home screen widgets for native and third-party apps, in addition to a Picture-in-Picture mode and an App Library, which automatically categorises apps with a single tap. Apple's lovingly popular voice assistant Siri is getting compact, much like what Google did to the Google Assistant on Android 11. And with the latest announcement, the rumours of iPhoneOS have died.

The major change that is coming to iOS with the new update is the ability to create widgets of the apps, powered by Artificial Intelligence. With automatic stacking, the widgets can even be set to change according to different times of the day. The widgets will be resizeable, as well and Apple says they can be put anywhere on the home screen using what is being called the Widget Gallery. The widgets can be dragged anywhere on the screen and the other apps will make space for the widget to fit in.

iOS 14 is also introducing App Library that can categorise apps on the basis of their nature. For example, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other chat apps will be categorised in a single folder. Now, this folder can be chosen to show on the home screen and even be hidden by going into the settings.

Next up is the iOS 14's new ability to play videos in the Picture-in-Picture mode. Available on Android for a long time, the PiP mode on the iOS 14 will allow the advanced functionalities of YouTube Premium and Netflix to work seamlessly on iOS. The PiP mode will also work for Apple's own video player.

Apple is also making significant changes to Siri, which will now be smaller in size and take only a little space on the screen. It will now show results in a notification format for things such as weather, reminders, and timer. The interface will be more like what Android 11 has done to the Google Assistant. The way how Siri opens apps and pages will also change.

Another major change is coming to the iMessage. The iMessage is finally getting the support for mentions and inline replies, much like what you see on pretty much every chat application today. So, you can now reply to a particular person in a group and have your own private chat within it. The mentions will help you address your message to someone. The iMessage is also getting pinned conversations, so when someone's chat is pinned, their thumbnail will hover on the top of the screen, much like the Stories on Instagram.

Even after so many years, Apple Maps is not where Google Maps is but the company is bullish. Which is why, with iOS 14, Apple is bringing more detailed navigation to Apple Maps in collaboration with companies such as Zagat and AllTrails to provide better recommendations for places to eat or hang out. Apple Maps now shows options for cycling, along with options such as the elevation of the road ahead, bike paths, stairs, and roads. Cycling functionalities will be available in select locations, not including India for now.

The Apple Maps is also getting support for EVs wherein the iPhone will show the battery level on the vehicle, factor in elements such as weather and elevation level to determine the remaining battery, and suggest the recommended routes. The facility is launching with BMW and Ford EVs but there is no concrete timeline to it.

Finally, Apple is introducing CarKey to iOS 14 that will allow iPhone users to unlock and lock their cars using just the device. It will leverage NFC and the credentials will be stored in Apple's Security Enclave. These credentials are shareable as well so that other members in a family can use the feature to unlock the car. The facility is arriving with the BMW 5 Series. Apple has said the CarKey feature will also come to iOS 13 soon and that there will be more automobile partners.

The developer beta of the iOS 14 is available starting today but the stable version will release this fall, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in his keynote.

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Tags: Apple | WWDC
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