Siri often gets left out when Apple talks about iOS, however this year that’s not the case. Apple’s virtual assistant has received a big refresh, with new abilities and a big redesign. Siri now pops up with new animations and it’ll offer up specific widgets for questions like ‘what’s the weather like?’. Siri also finally supports sending messages and improved translation support thanks to the new Translation app. These translation requests work offline, so you don’t need an internet connection. Apple said Siri has 20x more ‘fact than just three years ago’ so it should be better than before.
Apple is redefining the iOS homescreen this time around. App Library is a new space at the end of your homescreen that automatically groups apps together into larger, more visual folders. There’s a search bar at the top and Apple is using on-device intelligence to group together suggested apps and most-used apps. There’s even a dedicated Apple Arcade folder, and one for your recently downloaded apps.
Widgets are coming to iOS too – finally. These widgets can be resized and they look far better than they did before. You can also add them to your homescreen, rather than having them stay locked to the Today view and these take the place of your typical apps. Apple showed off a few examples, including a Smart widget and ones for Podcasts and Weather (you can see more in the image above). All of these examples looked far better than the previous widgets and we assume developers will be able to build their own widgets into their apps to bring this functionality across the board. The iPad and iPadOS will also get this feature. We’ve been asking for this update to the homescreen for years and it’s great to finally see Apple add it.
There’s a new app coming in iOS 14 and it’s called Translate. You can probably guess what it does. This is Apple’s rival to Google Translate and it lets you translate text or voice into 11 different languages. It looks like this app will work offline, which is always a handy touch when you’re out of data range.
Picture-in-Picture has been around on the iPad for a while now, but with iOS 14 it’s coming to iPhone. This will automatically happen when you close an app with a video playing and that video window will be resizable, just like on the iPad. This sounds like a minor feature, and one that has been on Android for ages, but we’re sure iOS users will love its addition.
From Siri no longer taking up the whole screen to phone calls showing in a tiny box at the top of the display, iOS 14 has a myriad of UI tweaks that make a whole lot of sense. This also included picture-in-picture for FaceTime chats, a far more visually appealing Home app and little notifications for when your AirPods are running low on juice.
Car Key support is here in iOS 14 and if you have a very specific BMW model you can unlock, share and restrict your vehicle within iOS. A nifty little trick ensures you don’t lose access to your car if your phone dies as Apple says the key works for five hours even with no battery.