WWDC 2020: iOS 14, Macs with iPad chips, and everything else announced

Here's the biggest news from this year's socially-distanced event.

This is a Digital Trends story.

Apple’s big Worldwide Developers Conference keynote has come and gone, all via a virtual event on June 22. Included among the announcements are iOS 14, the transition away from Intel chips on Mac, and much more.

What was missing? Well, any kind of hardware. Rumors about AirPods Studio headphones or a redesigned iMac didn’t turn out. Instead, the focus was mostly on changes to software across all of Apple’s ecosystem.

Apple started off its WWDC keynote with a special message on inclusiveness in light of the death of George Floyd. Apple reaffirmed its commitment to education, economic equality, and criminal justice. The company also introduced a new entrepreneurial developer camp for Black developers.

"We are committed to being a force for change," Apple CEO Tim Cook said.

Apple also thanked healthcare workers for their work amid the global health pandemic.

"Great challenges have been met with great creativity," Cook said, as he kicked off a socially distanced WWDC that was streamed from different locations.

 

iOS 14

Apple is making it easier to find your apps and information from your home screen. App Library is a new space at the end of your home screen pages that automatically arranges your apps in an easy to navigate view, Apple said.

You can think of App Library as a collection of intelligently grouped apps in folders, similar to how Apple’s Photos apps uses AI to create photo collection out of your photo library. One possible for App Library include recently used apps. The feature is introduced as a way to make it easier to find right app when you need it.

A big change is also coming to Widgets, which now comes in different sizes for your different data needs. This way, you can pick the right amount of information for each one.

Widgets can also be placed on the home screen alongside apps and folders. There is also a new Widget Gallery to choose from all the available widgets.

To multitask and stay entertained, Apple is also bringing picture-in-picture video to video apps, allowing you to continue playing videos in the background.

Siri is getting a huge update, taking less space in the interface. Siri’s engine can now be used for dictation, and speech-to-text will now be handled on-device for greater privacy. A new Translate app also leverages Siri for translation. Translate works in a conversational manner when rotate your phone into landscape mode.

An update to Messages will help iOS 14 users to keep up with messages by allowing you to pin messages to the top of your list, along with a beautiful photo of the sender. Now you can do inline replies to stay track of messages, and you can also be alerted of new messages with mentions. Now, you can set alerts in group messages only when you’re mentioned!

And to help you discover new places when you’re out, Apple is introducing a new feature into Maps called guides. To get to where you need to be, public transit and walking directions will be joined by cycling routes that feature bike lanes, paths, and roads. Cycling routes also takes elevation into account, along with quiet and busy roads, to ensure that you will have a safe time riding your bike. The routes will come with options to avoid stairs on your path as well as places where you can walk your bike.

There is also an EV routing mode for electric vehicle owners with charging stops. EV mode knows what car you’re driving so it can route you to compatible chargers for your vehicle!

Apple is also updating its car experience with a digital key called Car Key. With Car Key, your vehicle can be unlocked and started with your iPhone, thanks to NFC, allowing you to tap your phone to unlock your key. The digital car key lives in the secure enclave of your phone, and you’ll find your stored digital vehicle keys within the Wallet section. Keys can be securely shared with others as well, and parents can also set driving restrictions on the keys for younger drivers in the household.

These keys are more secure than physical keys, Apple said, and digital keys can be shared with family and friends. It will arrive first on BMW’s 2021 5 Series, and Apple said it is working on standards with industry groups to more broadly roll out Car Key. Apple said Car Key will be available on iOS 14, but will also work on devices running iOS 13 as well through a software update.

It is working on a U1 chip for connectivity, allowing you to unlock your car with your phone in your bag in the future so you don’t need to have your phone out if you have your hands full.

Apple is also announced AppClip, which is a small part of an app that’s light, fast, and easy to discover. You can launch the app clip from Safari, messages, maps, NFC tags, QR codes, or new Apple AppClip code. Apple showed AppClip working with Yelp to create an app for every restaurant.

iPadOS

Many of the new changes Apple introduced this year on iOS 14 will be making their way to the larger iPad screen with the latest release of iPad OS, Apple said during its WWDC keynote. Widgets, and the accompanying Widget Gallery, will be one of the many features headed to the iPad.

In addition to widgets, Apple’s Photos app will also be getting a big update. With the update, photos will remain front and center, but now there will be a new swipe-out sidebar that will give you access to more controls and options. The sidebar can also hide away when it’s not needed for a clutter-free experience.

This sidebar, which works as it does on a Mac, is also coming to other iPad apps, like Notes, Calendar, and more. Apple is definitely giving its iPad OS apps a more mature, Mac-like feel, making the tablet feel more of a professional tool.

The compact Siri design on iOS 14 is also coming to iPad OS. Apple is also bringing the idea to its call notification, with a more compact display when a new call comes in so calls don’t interrupt what you’re doing.

Universal search is getting a big update as well. This experience has been redesigned from the ground up to work like Spotlight on the Mac. Apple hopes the new Search will be the single destination for you, and it works better than even an app launcher.

A new Apple Pencil that’s coming to iPad is Scribble, which allows you to jot down what you want to search, rather than peck away from the keyboard or type. If you need to search in Safari, use your Apple Pencil and start scribbling into the search field. Apple said that this works in any text field, and your scribble will get converted to typed text. It can work with other languages as well. Scribble can detect addresses, phone numbers, and more.

When you’re in Notes, you can select your handwritten text and convert it to type text as well.

AirPods update

Apple is updating AirPods with new features, including spatial audio for AirPods Pro. New algorithms help to direct audio to your ears spatially, similar to how you hear sound in a movie theater. Apple is using hardware features, like the gyroscope and your phone’s sensor data to understand how sound moves in relation to what you see. The result is a surround sound experience that keeps you in the middle of the action, Apple said. Spatial audio will work with 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos coded files.

Additionally, AirPods will support a new handoff feature, allowing you to pick up your music listening session as you switch between devices.

Apple Watch and watchOS 7

Apple is bringing more and richer complications to Apple Watch, making it easier to track your fitness and health. With WatchOS 7, Apple is also making it easier to share your favorite custom faces with Face Sharing. There are curated faces as well if you don’t want to set up your own watch face.

To share a face that you created yourself, you can long-press on the face, pick a contact to share with, and hit send, Apple said.

Bicyclists can now also get turn-by-turn directions for cycling directions, with options to dismount and walk your mount or take stairs to take time if you like.

The workout app can now track a fun new cardio workout — dance! Dance uses sensor fusion collects various sensor data to figure out your dance style and combines this with heart rate data. There is also function strength training and cooldown workout tracking. All this leads the Activity app to get a new name as well: Fitness.

Apple is also bringing sleep tracking to Fitness. To help you get to bed on time, Wind Down displays a screen on your phone to get you ready for sleep. In sleep mode, your screens will turn off. And when it’s time to wake up, you can choose from alarms to get you up slowly without waking your partner.

And to keep in sync with the global health pandemic, Apple is also integrating a new handwashing tracker. A.I. helps to automatically detect when you’re washing your hands, and the feature helps to keep proper hand hygiene by letting you know how the length of your handwashing sessions.

Privacy

Apple says that privacy is built into its products, and privacy matters now more than ever. The company tries to process as much information on your device as possible rather than sending it to servers.

There’s also transparency and control to allow you to make informed decisions on how your data is collected and shared.

An example of how Apple takes security and privacy seriously is its Sign in with Apple feature. Travel site Kayak reported that its users are twice as likely to sign in with Apple than with any other provider, Apple said.

New features this year include approximate location data sharing, recording indicators when the microphone and cameras are activated, and Safari tracking settings. Apple is also requiring developers to share with you what data is tracked and shared, similar to how nutritional labels are shown on food, the company said.

Home

Apple announced a new alliance with Amazon, Google, and other industry leaders to make it easier to make your home smarter. All this, Apple said, is controlled with the Home app, which now lets you set up automation. One example is adaptive lighting, which turns on your lights in the morning with warm colors and helps you stay focused throughout the day with cooler colors.

Your Homekit connected cameras now come with facial recognition. This new feature not only lets you know if someone is at your Homekit enabled doorbell camera, but it also tells you who is at your front door based on the photos tagged in your photo library.

tvOS 14

To make TV more entertaining, Apple is introducing the ability to see lyrics as you watch music videos. Gaming is also getting a big focus with Apple TV, as the platform now supports Xbox controllers. Additionally, multi-user support for games is coming to the platform with tvOS 14.

Apple TV is also adding picture-in-picture mode, which allows you to watch the news, for example, in a smaller window while also viewing your favorite workout apps.

Apple also introduced a new Apple TV+ Original called Foundation, a sci-fi show based on the book series authored by Isaac Asimov.

MacOS Big Sur

The next release of Mac OS is called Big Sur and it introduces a new design and major updates to the Mac. Apple is bringing design refinements to user elements, like buttons, sliders, and more. This update rolls out at the first WWDC since famed designer Jony Ive departed the company. Apple highlighted consistency between the ecosystem, so users can fluidly move from device to device, which makes MacOS feel and act more like iOS than ever before.

All the app icons have been redesigned, and Apple says that it now uses a new compact, simplified toolbar. The menu bar is now translucent and takes on the colors of your desktop, Apple said. Apple is also bringing an iOS-like Control Center to give you quick access to system settings and toggles.

Notifications can also be grouped, and the notifications are now displayed alongside newly designed widgets. Like iOS 14, there is a gallery of widgets that are available in a variety of sizes.

Mac OS users can now create and send their own Memoji. Group enhancements, pinned conversations, and more are also making their way from iOS to Mac OS.

The Mac is also getting all the new Maps features that are introduced in iOS 14. Apple used its Catalyst toolkit to port Maps from iOS 14 to the Mac.

Safari now gives you a better idea of how a site tracks you with a site report. Apple is also bringing a web extensions API and a new category in the Mac App Store to showcase the new extensions. With extensions, Apple lets you choose which site each extension works with for greater privacy and security control. Apple is also bringing native translation capabilities that are built into Safari.

As you open more tabs in Safari, tabs get smaller and Apple will use icons as tab identifiers, rather than the webpage’s text name.

Apple processors usher in a new era for Macs

After 15 years of using Intel processors on the Mac, Apple is bidding adieu. The company announced that it has developed its own custom silicon for over a decade, which gives Macs better performance-per-watt. Apple announced that it will use its own SoCs (system on a chip) in the future for the Mac, a move that mirrors what the company had done with the iPhone and iPad, noting how its mobile products are now faster than most PC laptops.

This will give the Mac a whole new level of performance, Apple said. Apple also said that it will balance power and performance with this new chip. It will combine machine learning, a neural engine, graphics capabilities, and more. Apple announced that a family of Mac SoCs will be coming with a common architecture.

Apple has already built-in support for its own silicon on Mac OS Big Sur. All of Apple’s apps are built to natively support its own silicon, using Xcode. In addition to Apple apps, including pro apps like Final Cut, Adobe and Microsoft are also working on supporting Apple’s custom processors.

Apple is testing Big Sur using the same A12Z Bionic processor that’s used on the iPad Pro. Apple showed Microsoft Word and Excel, Adobe Photoshop, and Apple Final Cut Pro software running fluidly on this processor in its WWDC 2020 demo.

Apple also announced Rosetta 2, an emulation app that allows current MacOS apps to run on new systems with Apple silicon. Apple said that apps are translated at the time of install. There’s also virtualization for Linux. Apple showed gaming with Rosetta 2 with the title Shadow of the Tomb Raider working fluidly. And for mobile gamers, you can even run iOS and iPad apps as well, like Monument Valley. Apple announced that its new ARM powered Macs will be able to run iOS and iPad OS apps alongside native and emulated apps.

Apple’s transition to custom A-series ARM-based processors for Mac begins this week, Cook said. To help developers start coding for ARM-based Macs, Apple will be making its Developer Transition Kit available starting this week, which features a Mac Mini with an A12Z Bionic chip inside. If you’re looking to buy a Mac with Apple’s new processors, these new systems are expected to ship before the end of the year, and Apple noted that the transition is expected to last for two years.

All of Apple’s operating systems will be available as developer betas starting today. Public betas are expected to launch next month, and the final versions will ship in the fall, Cook said.

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