At last, it will give users the option to choose their own email clients and web browsers, as well as stopping incoming calls from taking up the full extent of the screen.
Both features have been high on users wishlists for years. But they will finally arrive when iOS 14 is released later this year.
In addition to the new features, the update brings a new look to the iPhone's home screen, with widgets that can show when the phone is unlocked and the option to hide apps away rather than scroll through endless pages.
Apple did not address the two new updates heavily in its presentation, which was the first time that Apple has held a keynote event without an audience.
But they did mention the phone notifications in passing, as part of a broader new "Compact UI" that keeps other information – such as the Siri indicator and videos – on the screen while doing other things.
When a new call comes in, it will appear as a banner at the top, rather than taking up the whole screen. Users can tap it to answer, as usual, but will also have the option of dismissing it by swiping up, or getting extra options to respond by swiping down.
The feature will apply to both traditional calls and FaceTime ones.
Apple suggested that apps that offer calls – such as Skype – will have to add support for compact incoming calls through an API. That means that some software might still use the older, full screen notification, at least initially.
The change to the default apps was hidden right down on the long list of iOS 14 features found on Apple's website. Almost at the end of the page, the list includes an indication that users will finally be able to indicate that they want Gmail to be their default mail client, or Chrome their default browser, for instance.
"Set a default web browser and email app that launch when you click a link or want to compose a new mail message," the update reads.
Apple did not give any indication that the feature would come to other apps. Users have argued that the phone should also have a way of choosing the default app to take photos, look at pictures, or listen to music, for instance – but it will be limited to those two use cases, at least initially.
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