Apple on Wednesday brought iOS 14 as a free software update to iPhone 6s and later, delivering a major push to the Home Screen with beautifully redesigned widgets and the App Library, new ways to use apps with App Clips, and powerful updates to Messages.
New widgets present timely information at a glance and can be added in different sizes on any Home Screen page.
“We are thrilled to see the incredible ways developers are taking advantage of widgets and App Clips to create new experiences that we think customers are going to love,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering said in a statement.
Users can choose a Smart Stack of widgets, which uses on-device intelligence to surface the right widget based on time, location, and activity.
At the end of the Home Screen pages is the App Library that makes it easier for users to get to all of their apps with a simple, easy-to-navigate view.
With Picture-in-Picture support, iPhone users can now watch a video or take a FaceTime call while using another app.
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“Incoming FaceTime and phone calls and Siri interactions take on an all-new compact design that enables users to stay in the context of what they are doing,” Apple said.
Users can pin now conversations to the top of their messages list, easily keep up with lively group threads through mentions and inline replies, and further
customize conversations by setting a group photo using an image or emoji.
“Maps makes it easier than ever to navigate and explore with new cycling directions, electric vehicle routing, and curated Guides,” Apple announced.
Users can now choose to share their approximate location with app developers rather than their precise location when granting an app location access, and get even more transparency into an app’s use of the microphone and camera.
Developers can offer users the option to upgrade their existing accounts to Sign in with Apple.
“Later this year, App Store product pages will feature summaries of developers’ self-reported privacy practices, displayed in a simple, easy-to-read format. Starting early next year, all apps will be required to obtain user permission before tracking,” Apple said.
AirPods and AirPods Pro gain powerful capabilities with iOS 14.
Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking brings a theater-like experience to AirPods Pro. By applying directional audio filters, and subtly adjusting the frequencies each ear receives, sounds can be placed virtually anywhere in a space to provide an immersive listening experience.
In iOS 14, the Home app makes smart home control even easier with new automation suggestions and expanded controls in Control Center for quicker access to accessories and scenes.
“A new Health Checklist that includes Emergency SOS, Medical ID, ECG, fall detection, and more offers users a centralized place to manage health and safety features in iOS 14,” Apple informed.