As you might have heard already (or not), Apple has released some information on their software and some hardware in their annual WWDC 2020 conference. You can watch their whole presentation here:
There are some interesting things they are bringing this Fall, but I’ll focus on iOS stuff because that’s what I’m most interested in. Some of them were not mentioned in the keynote and were revealed by users who tried the BETA version of upcoming iOS 14.
Apple announced widgets support that can be added to any page, almost anywhere. They still aren’t full blown widgets like on Android, but more like dynamic tiles from Windows Mobile that can come in various sizes and can be fit into any page, almost anywhere. Apparently you still can’t stick them in the middle of icons so they still kinda align through entire display width, to the left or to the right side of the display, but hey, we’ll finally be able to have them outside of the first page which was dedicated for widgets only till now.
Up till iOS 14, if you didn’t really need some apps, you had to either dump them into a certain folder or certain page just to get them away from your usual apps. In iOS you can simply hide entire pages if you feel like you don’t need apps located on them.
Apps grouping/categories page
Another new thing is the new page located at the end of all the pages which stores all the apps grouped based on their functionality. So all the games will be bunched into one category, all the entertainment apps in another, all the gadgets like calculator and stuff in third one etc. On top you’ll also have Frequently used apps category and “Just added” category where newly installed apps will appear. This panel also include alphabetical listing of all apps so in a way it’s like a launcher on Android, but not quite.
I still have mixed feelings about it and will have to try it myself to really see if it’s useful to me or not. Because even on Android, I was never a fan of app drawer. Especially the grid list was terrible way of finding things quickly. Alphabetical list was always my favorite if I had to use the app drawer. Sliding finger across letters to quickly jump to where app is instead of looking at icons in a grid. Then again I always preferred Huawei’s EMUI and Xiaomi’s MIUI as a phone launcher and those are super similar to how iOS behaves so I kinda felt at home in iOS when moving away from Android.
Technically, you can just have widgets page and this new page with categories and you can hide away ALL the other pages that have apps on them. I’m actually going to try it this way to see how it works for day to day use.
iOS 14 is also bringing more wide PiP support which is petty seamless. You can flick the app to go from full screen mode and then you can move and resize the video popup however you wish. You can even move it outside of the screen where it’ll turn into an arrow on the side of the display. You’ll still hear the audio so you can listen to music or news without watching video. But you can always instantly pull it into view if something interests you during the video. Pretty neat.
Set default browser and e-mail app
One of longest awaited features that is confirmed for iOS 14, but not included in the keynote. And while Android fans are mocking Apple for not including it years ago, it wasn’t that annoying even though I transitioned to iPhone relatively recently (from Android). It was annoyance, but not as big as everyone is making it to be. It’s certainly a nice convenience addition that I welcome.
It’s for now limited to browsers and e-mail clients only, but it’s where you need it the most anyway. Browsers are still limited to use Safari’s rendering engine. Which I’m generally ok with even though I’d like it if browsers could use their own rendering engines so browser developers don’t have to write entirely different browser compared to Android. Which is often a reason why iOS browsers are neglected badly or just don’t exist because developers feel like it’s not even worth their time for some reason…
Smaller Incoming calls and Siri
Not as ground breaking of a change, but a nice addition, they changed incoming calls and Siri pages so they don’t take up entire display anymore. I kinda understand why Apple preferred it whole display so it really catches your attention, but it’s probably more convenient to deal with when it’s not covering entire display. Especially with incoming calls that you can just flick away at the top to dismiss the call without rejecting it.
Back tapping gestures
Another neat addition with iOS 14 are back tapping gestures. You can assign commands to double or triple tap on the back of the phone. And apparently you can even chain Shortcut commands on those tap gestures so you can make iOS launch almost anything using specified gesture. It’s a small feature, but can be hugely convenient as you always have fingers at the back of the phone whether you hold it with one hand or both so you don’t even have to take your hands away to reach physical buttons or virtual buttons on display. You can request Siri this way, launch browser, fire up flash LED or even launch Camera (you need to use Shortcuts to do it as they don’t offer direct Camera selection for some reason). But hey, you can do it and I think it’s pretty neat.
Things I wasn’t so impressed by…
My biggest annoyance is how Europe is treated like a 3rd world region. Sure, I get it that USA is Apple’s primary market and they focus on that the most, but come on, the new Translate app mostly only focuses on few languages and that’s it. Sure, my expectations of Apple supporting Slovenian language are tiny since my country is also tiny and I can see how we aren’t exactly high on Apple’s priority list, but given how big of a company Apple is, they could do better imo. They should at least be on par with Google. Especially since Google is Apple’s main competitor in this segment.
And same goes for Apple Maps. When I can’t do something with HereWeGo maps (which is rare) I resort to checking Apple Maps since I don’t use anything from Google anymore. But it just seems like all the cool functionality is only dropped in for US users and the rest of us just get very cut down and basic maps functionality and it’s quite disappointing to a point I never even think of going to Apple Maps as my first navigation or maps selection.
They really need to step up the game for European region if they want to excite more users to grab iPhone instead of countless Android offerings.
What are you excited about in iOS 14 that I maybe haven’t mentioned here but is a cool feature or function? Let me know 🙂