iOS 14: Apple unveils major new update for iPhone software

New features also coming to iPad

Andrew Griffin
Monday 22 June 2020 19:07 BST
Apple release what iOS 14 looks like

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Apple has unveiled iOS 14, its new operating system for the iPhone.

The update includes a number of major changes to the way the operating system works, as well as new features and updates for apps within the operating system such as Messages.

iOS includes fundamental changes to the home screen that shows whenever a user opens up their phone. Instead of seeing their apps spread across a variety of screens, they will instead see an "App Library", which is intended to stop people having to search through their various pages.

It also includes new widgets, which are dramatically more rich and adaptable than they currently are on the iPhone. As well as showing more information and options, those widgets can be dropped onto the home screen, alongside the list of apps.

Users will also now be able to use a "Picture in Picture" mode that will let people use keep watching videos from other apps, while still using their phone. If a show is started from within the Apple TV app, for instance, it can then be shrunk down so that it will hover over other applications.

A version of that feature has been available in the iPad for some time. But it is the first time that the iPhone has been able to show information from more than one app at once.

Apple has also changed the way that calls come in on the iPhone or iPad. They will now appear only in a corner of the screen, rather than taking over the whole display, Apple said.

Siri has also received a major new update. It will now show in a smaller part of the screen rather than taking over the whole display, as well as being smarter so that it can answer more complex questions, Apple claimed.

iOS 14 also includes a new app – named Translate – which uses some of the technology from Siri to allow people to translate between 11 different languages. It can transcribe what people are saying, before translating it and then giving the option to either show the text or read out the result.

Like other Siri features, that uses on-device processing so that the audio will not leave the device.

Messages and Memoji have also received updates, Apple said. Texts will be arranged into "conversations" that can be pinned to the top of the app, groups are better organised so that people can reply to specific messages or people rather than their texts getting lost in a busy chat, and Memoji have extra options to customise people, including face coverings.

Apple will also release its new Maps feature – which came to the US over the last year – to other countries including the UK, it said. The new map infrastructure has also allowed Apple to roll out richer integrations including local guides that recommend ways to explore cities, for instance, and Apple has finally added cycling directions for limited cities.

iOS 14 also includes new features for the car. It updates Apple's CarPlay feature that allows iOS to run on a car's dashboard, but also allows users to turn their phones into keys, which will be used to unlock a car and can be shared with anyone else who needs to use the vehicle.

That feature will be one of the first major features to use Apple's somewhat mysterious U1 chip, which allows for precise location of where a phone or other item is. That will be used to allow the phone to unlock the car – even if it is still stored in someone's bag, for instance.

Another new feature, known as "App Clips", will allow people to make smaller versions of apps that can be easily discovered by scanning a special code or pointing it at a tag. Those clips are made to be quick and easy to download, allowing businesses that have apps to quickly encourage their users to get hold of an app, without waiting for it download while waiting in line at a coffee shop, for instance.

The new software will be available to developers in a beta version today, and the public will be able to get hold of those early versions from next month. The full release will likely come in September, alongside the new iPhone 12.

The reveal came as part of Apple's WWDC event, which is being held virtually and online for the first ever time.

Follow our live coverage of the event here.

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