Apple recently flagged off its 2020 edition of the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a new twist. The keynote event was streamed online and was available for viewing to not just the Apple developers, but to anyone else who was interested. This move made the WWDC 2020 one of the most inclusive events in recent tech history.
For those of you who are new to this, the Apple WWDC event is the platform where Apple shows off and basically unveils the next generation of Operating Systems for their different devices. The 2020 edition shaw some monumental changes to the mobile OS platforms we all love so much with a MASSIVE announcement at the end which served as a true game-changer.
Today, we will be covering all things announced at the Apple WWDC 2020.
Let’s kick things off with the flagship mobile OS from Apple – iOS 14.
iPhone Experience Reimagined
Apple’s iOS platform has been evolving ever since its inception with the first iPhone and over the past few versions, things seemed to be slowing down a bit. Little did we know that deep inside the developers hut at the Apple HQ, something immense was brewing. Say Hello to iOS 14.
The iOS 14 will reimagine your entire iPhone experience with changes to the core functionalities and added features to make your iPhone that much more responsive, powerful, and secure.
Number 1. The App Drawer
First off, we have a new app drawer layout coming to the iPhone, that Apple has named, the App Library. The App Library will be placed at the end of your default Home Screens and will consist of an app drawer that will display apps in the form of systematic collections, arranged in alphabetical order. This feature will make it easy to access your apps from just one location rather than having to swipe across multiple Home Screens trying to look for the app.
“iOS 14 transforms the most iconic elements of the iPhone experience, starting with the biggest update we’ve ever made to the Home Screen,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “With beautifully redesigned widgets on the Home Screen, the App Library that automatically organizes all of your apps, and App Clips that are fast and easy to discover, iPhone becomes even more powerful and easier to use.”
Number 2. Redesigned Widgets
Speaking of widgets, you can now drag and drop widgets directly on to your Home screen and the apps will make way for them by rearranging themselves to the side. The widgets will also be available in different sizes, so you can now choose how big or small you want the widgets to be. Thanks to the ground-up redesign, widgets are now more data-rich than ever giving you all the crucial data right on your home screen.
What’s more, users can create a Smart Stack of widgets, which uses on-device intelligence to surface the right widget based on time, location, and activity.
Number 3. New Call and Siri UI
Today, whenever you get a call on your iPhone or activate Siri, the whole iPhone screen gets superimposed by the Call or Siri UI. This prevents you from continuing your work and focussing more on these rather trivial tasks. iOS 14 is set to change that experience forever by introducing a new compact UI design for both calls and Siri. Calls will now appear in a nice redesigned compact bar at the top of your screen while activating Siri will bring in a nice unobtrusive Siri icon animation that will help you with whatever query you have.
Also, with Picture-in-Picture support, iPhone users can now watch a video or make a FaceTime call while using another app.
Number 4. Bring in the App Clips
Apple smartly mentioned that today, whatever you want to do, there is an app to help you do it. This mantra has evolved into the new App Clips. Alright, so let’s say you are out shopping and you need to scan a QR code to make a transaction., and you don’t have the app to get it done. Today, you have to go through the process of downloading the app, installing it, signing up, and then finally using it for the transaction.
When you upgrade to iOS 14, you will be presented with a nice little app click which will allow you to use the app instantly for that period of time. This way, you don’t have to keep downloading stand-alone apps for every small service that is available in the market.
App Clips will be accessible by means of a custom-designed Apple App Clip Code, an NFC tag, or even through a QR code. Developers around the world are working on adding in this facility into as many services as possible world-wide, thus making this feature an absolute blessing for the iPhone.
Number 5. Messages get a much-needed upgrade
Apple’s messaging app is a very popular platform for iOS and macOS users around the world. Many users prefer the Messages app over third-party apps like WhatsApp and Messenger. For a few years, the Apple Messages app was left to fend for itself while its competitors went about getting significant upgrades. iOS 14 is set to change the game once more with major upgrades to the Apple Messaging platform.
First, we have inline conversation support in group chats. This way, you can respond to a particular message in its own inline thread and the cheery on top is that you can even view these thread as standalone conversations to get a little more clarity.
Next, you can simply type in the name of the user in your group to mention them, and you can set your own message notifications such that you are notified every time you are mentioned. This way, you can jump into the conversation only when needed.
Groups will now feature small thumbnails of all the users at the top of the chat. The users who are most active will have bigger thumbnails than the rest which you can also add a group icon if you want to, and the thumbnail will be arranged around it.
Coming to the single conversations, you can now pin a certain conversation to the top of the list so that you don’t miss out on important updates. Also, if the pinned user is typing a message, you will see a small animation near their thumbnail, along with a message preview.
Finally, the memories have also been upgraded with added appearance options including clothing, decor, and age options. The Memoji stickers have also been upgraded to include three new actions (Hug, Fist Bump, and Blush).
Number 6. Apple Maps jumps back into action in style
For years, Google Maps has been the default go-to app for navigation and discoveries. With iOS 14, Apple Maps has been given a slew of new features that will bring it right back into the mix for the title of the best navigation app.
First up, we have the cycle navigation. Apple maps will give you the best route for cycling to your destination. It will take into account, all the various factors like the elevation, traffic status, and also the presence of stairways to give you the most optimized route for your traveling pleasure.
Next, we have EV tracking. If you are an owner of an electric car, Apple Maps has got a new feature that will drive away your range anxieties. The EV tracking mode will use information like your current charge status, type of charger required and the total distance to traverse, and offers you the best possible route to help you reach your destination without getting a panic attack because of dropping range.
Number 7. Apple takes privacy to a new level
This feature will be present on the App Store and will be mandatory for all apps so that users can get a clear idea about their data privacy before deciding whether or not they want to go for the app.
Also, in-app permissions will be under the purview of the users and not the developer company. You can now decide how much data the app can access rather than leaving it in the developers’ hands.
Number 8. Unlock your Car with your iPhone and Translate on the Go
One of the more glam features of the iOS 14 platform is that you can now open your car using your iPhone. The digital key will be stored on your iPhone and you can bring your iPhone near your car to unlock it. What’s more, you can even share your car key with your family by sending them a unique unlock code on iMessage. They can now walk up to your car and drive it. This feature will be available with the new upcoming BMW 5 series, but Apple plans to extend this to all the cars in the market.
Apple has also added a new translate app into iOS 14. Working offline to maintain privacy, the translate app will allow you to live translate from the detected language to any supported language instantaneously. The translate app will also run on machine learning algorithms and as such, will improve the more you use it. Apple has committed to adding more languages in the coming months as well.
Overall, iOS 14 has got a major upgrade in terms of iOS 13 and along with the other minor features that have been sprinkled across the OS, we are looking at a grand slam home run from Apple in terms of iOS. Now, let’s move on to the bigger version of the iOS platform, the new iPadOS 14.
The iPad improves in every single way
The iPadOS platform was introduced to draw a line of differentiation between the Phone and Tablet platforms. While the core experience is the same, the iPadOS makes use of the bigger screen and significantly more powerful processor to give users a little more oomph in terms of speed, productivity, performance, and security.
The iPadOS 14 features all the changes that come into the iOS 14 platform with a few added features and functionalities. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Number 1. Universal Search
The iPad family has become a daily driver for many content creators, artists, and even corporate users thanks to the Laptop grade performance that the tablet offers. One thing that was lacking in the iPad was a universal search feature, which is finally coming in the new iPadOS 14.
The Universal search bar a redesigned effort form Apple and feature a sleek translucent design and can be activated from absolutely anywhere on the screen, even over web pages if needed. This makes sure you remain in context while using the search to get around to the desired materials.
Number 2. Sidebars get a much needed revamp
One more aspect which felt rather half baked in previous iPads was the sidebar. The sidebar elements in the iPadOS platform felt clunky and difficult to use at times, but with iPadOS 14, the sidebar has been redesigned from the ground up and now features a top to the bottom layout. Your content remains front and center while the sidebar acts in the side giving you quick access to all your content in a sleek and mellifluous manner.
The redesigned sidebar will be visible in all major Apple services like Photos, Files, Notes, Calendar, and Apple Music as well.
Number 3. All new ARKit for Developers.
The new family of iPad has featured some seriously great AR capabilities, and Apple has enabled developers to create even better apps with AR capabilities using the new ARKit 4 with the all-new Depth API. Apple believes that the developers can make use of these features and functionalities along with the LiDAR sensor on the iPad Pro to create some beautiful new apps.
Number 4. Apple Pencil makes the experience complete
The Apple Pencil has been a must-have accessory for all Apple users who own an iPad. The Apple Pencil has given standard stylus peripherals a run for their money with some top of the line features, amazing gesture controls, and lag-free experience.
With iPadOS 14, the Apple Pencil is set to become even smarter with the introduction of Handwriting Recognition. Whenever you see a text entry window, you can now simply write into it with your Apple Pencil, and the inbuilt Data Detectors will convert your handwriting into text and this whole exercise will make it that much more personal and exciting for users around the world.
Another little nugget in this feature set is the copy as a text feature. If you have handwritten notes on your iPad, you can now select the content and from the pop-up options, just tap on the ‘Copy As Text’ option. When you paste this copied content into your document, the handwritten notes will be posted as regular text into the document.
Thanks to AI and Machine Learning algorithms, this feature will only get better with time, and since it works in an offline capacity, none of the written content or phrases are shared with any third party agencies.
Overall, it looks like the iPad lineup is about to get an internal facelift with iPadOS 14, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the new version of Apple’s beautiful iPad Operating System.
Next up, let’s move to the wearable section with the new WatchOS 7
Apple Watch becomes a better personal trainer
The Apple Watch showed the market what wearable tech needs to be in an ideal scenario. Over the last few years, the Apple Watch has seen an exponential rise in users thanks to its simple setup, second to none performance, and intricate attention to fitness. With the latest generation of Apple Watches featuring the ECG sensor, it is clear that the Apple Watch is now firmly placed in the ecosystem with a long term plan in place already.
“We’re energized by the positive impact Apple Watch is having on our customers and are excited to deliver meaningful new tools that support their health, fitness, and wellness,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “watchOS 7 brings sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection, and new workout types together with a whole new way to discover and use watch faces, helping our users stay healthy, active, and connected.”
At the WWDC 2020 keynote, Apple showed off some major new additions to the WatchOS which will take your Apple Watch experience to a new level altogether.
Number 1. Customize Watch Faces with more Complications
When you look at conventional watches, you will see a number of complications available in the model. Apple Watch has done a great job of adding in the complications capability in the current generation, but with the new WatchOS 7, customization options have increased to allow for a variety of new complications and appearances.
What’s more, you can now share your own watch face or a watch face that you loved with your friends by simply clicking on the share button and send them a link to the watch face.
Number 2. New workouts Detected
The Apple Watch allows you to get customized metrics based on the kind of workout you are doing. Currently, the Apple Watch supports 14 types of preset workouts, but with WatchOS 7, Apple has added in support for new styles including Dance.
The Apple Watch detects if you are moving your Hands only, Legs only, or both, and records the workout metrics accordingly. All this without prompting you to press any buttons or fiddle with any settings.
Number 3. Sleep Analysis
One of the most requested features has finally made its way to the Apple Watch and it is none other than ‘Sleep analysis’. You can now set a sleeping schedule into the iPhone or your Apple Watch and you will see that the Apple Watch will help you pace yourself throughout the day in order to hit the bed at the designated time. Apple has called this feature ‘Wind Down’.
Once you get closer to sleeping time, the Watch will switch to a static time only display while your iPhone will turn on Do Not Disturb mode automatically. While sleeping, the Apple Watch will study every micro-movement of your body , and graph out your sleep pattern and every other bit of data that can help you improve your sleep cycle and be more productive during the day.
The world wanted an Apple Watch Sleep Analysis feature, and Apple has delivered a whole lot more.
Number 4. Hand wash Detection
The ongoing pandemic has made it important for us to maintain cleanliness and to wash our hands periodically for 20 seconds. The WatchOS 7 will bring in a new hand wash detection functionality into the Apple Watch. Here, the Apple Watch will detect the sound of running water and soap and start a 20-second timer. If you pause the hand wash session midway, you will be notified to keep going for the remainder of the countdown and you will also get a neat little animation once you are done.
This feature is something of an added bonus, but it will go a long way in ensuring that Apple Watch users and even those around them take that one step towards a healthier lifestyle.
This and a lot more will be available to all Apple Watch users starting with the WatchOS 7, but you might see a few of these features come into the current versions as well to help people get used to them and get started with them as soon as possible.
Let us now move on to the big daddy of OS releases, the new macOS Big Sur.
The Mac is now bigger, better and more secure than ever before
The product line that got by far the biggest upgrades is the Mac and MacBook series. Users have been pining for an overhaul to MacOS for while and Apple finally delivered with their biggest visual and performance overhaul to the MacOS platform and to top it off, they even gave it a ‘Big’ name.
“macOS Big Sur is a major update that advances the legendary combination of the power of UNIX with the ease of use of the Mac, and delivers our biggest update to design in more than a decade,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “With its modern and clean look, huge improvements to key apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps, and new privacy features, we think everyone is going to love the breakthrough experience that macOS Big Sur offers.”
The macOS Big Sur will be a start of a whole new line of Mac Operating Systems and its only appropriate that we go through all the new additions one by one.
Number 1. Overhauled Design for a brand new experience
The macOS Big Sur is the biggest visual overhaul to the MacOs platform since the introduction of macOS X, and while the UI elements have now been given a new identity, the ease of use has just gotten better.
Everything from the curvature of window corners to the palette of colors and materials has been refined, and new features provide even more information and power. Icons in the Dock have been thoughtfully designed to be more consistent with icons across the Apple ecosystem while retaining their Mac personality. Buttons and controls appear when needed, and recede when they’re not. The entire experience feels more focused, fresh, and familiar, reducing visual complexity and bringing users’ content front and center.
Number 2. The Control Center comes to the Mac
The popular ‘Control Center’ that is available on the iPhones and iPads will now make its way to your Macs and Macbooks. The new control center for the Mac will enable users to get a more intimate experience in terms of settings and toggles. You can even drag an element from the control center and add it to your top toolbar for easier access.
An updated Notification Center includes more interactive notifications and redesigned widgets that come in different sizes, providing users with more relevant information at a glance. And a new design for core apps brings more organization to multiple open windows and makes interacting with apps even easier.
Number 3. Safari looks better, works faster and is much safer
The Safari browser will now give you detailed information about each website you visit. This includes the data that the website is requesting and what part of the data is being shared with third parties. If you have the habit of storing your passwords in the Safari keychain, you will be alerted if your password has been compromised so that you can take timely action.
Number 4. Developers get a new home
Apple’s developer community of more than 20 million use the Mac to create amazing experiences for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Xcode 12 makes developing great apps for macOS easier than ever. SwiftUI gets a major upgrade so that developers can write entire apps with shared code across all Apple platforms, while easily adding custom Mac features like Preferences windows. And SwiftUI is used in even more places, powering the new widgets for Mac, iPhone, and iPad using shared Swift code.
Mac Catalyst, which debuted with macOS Catalina last year, has made it easy for developers to bring their iPad apps to the Mac. And in macOS Big Sur, Mac Catalyst apps automatically inherit the new look, while giving developers powerful new APIs and total control over the look and behavior of their apps.
There’s one more thing.
In a move that sent ripples in the technology world, Apple has announced that they will be formally stepping away from Intel Processors in favor of their first home-brewed chipset, the Apple Silicon.
Apple has shown their prowess when it comes to mobile chipsets with industry-leading performances coming out of all their products, and it was only a matter of time that Apple turned its attention towards their most powerful product line.
“From the beginning, the Mac has always embraced big changes to stay at the forefront of personal computing. Today we’re announcing our transition to Apple silicon, making this a historic day for the Mac,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With its powerful features and industry-leading performance, Apple silicon will make the Mac stronger and more capable than ever. I’ve never been more excited about the future of the Mac.”
The time has finally come and we have the brand new Apple Silicon processor for Macs and Macbook devices. The Apple Silicon processor is said to be more power-efficient, adds in the neural engine, and also has speed enhancements that are capable of some incredible tasks.
Tasks like streaming three 4K videos in parallel, handling complex modeling and Rendering on Maya, or editing a 5GB photograph on Photoshop are like normal chores to the Apple Silicon processor, and the best part is that Apple is actually ready to ship it with their new generation Mac devices from the end of this year itself.
For people who are wondering about the compatibility of apps in the new platform, you need not worry because Microsoft has already prepared the Office Suite for the Apple Silicon PCs, while Adobe has successfully ported the Creative Cloud suite to the Apple Silicon platform. Over time, other brands and developers will also make the transition to Apple Silicon, but how does one cope until then?
Say hello to Rosetta 2. When Apple made the shift from PowerPC to Intel processors, the Rosetta platform helped translate PowerPC apps to run on Intel-powered PCs. The Rosetta 2 will now translate Intel apps to run seamlessly on the Apple Silicon PCs, and Apple actually has demonstrated this by using Maya directly on the Apple Silicon powered Mac.
The transition to Apple Silicon will begin with the macOS Big Sur, which already features all the apps built native for the Apple Silicon platform. As far as developers are considered, Apple has announced the ‘Quick Start Programs’. Apple Developers can now apply for the Quick Start Program’, which provides access to documentation, forums support, beta versions of macOS Big Sur and Xcode 12, and includes the limited use of a DTK, which will enable developers to build and test their Universal 2 apps. The DTK, which must be returned to Apple at the end of the program, consists of a Mac mini with Apple’s A12Z Bionic SoC inside and desktop specs, including 16GB of memory, a 512GB SSD, and a variety of Mac I/O ports. Developers can apply to the program at developer.apple.com.
All in all, the Apple WWDC showed everyone what they have been up to and the kind of amazing features we can look forward to in the upcoming upgrades. The transition to Apple Silicon has definitely opened up new possibilities and we are all waiting to see what Apple pulls off next with their absolutely unbeatable OS family in the coming months.