Yesterday at its WWDC developer conference, Apple dropped a lot of new updates and features that will be coming to the iPhone, iPad, AirPods, Apple TV and Mac this fall. No actual hardware was actually announced, but there were a lot of details about the upcoming iOS 14 and macOS “Big Sur.” We’ve rounded up the most exciting announcements from WWDC 2020 that you need to know.
iOS 14 is snagging a whole host of Android’s best features.
iOS and Android have always copied features from their competitors, and this year iOS 14 is getting a bunch of features that Android users will know well. iOS 14 is getting widgets for the home screen, allowing you to see information like the weather or upcoming appointments in your calendar at a glance right next to all the apps on your home screen. iOS 14 is also introducing picture-in-picture video (like Android has had with YouTube), so that you can watch video from select apps in a floating screen while you do other things in other apps. You’ll also be able to hide the apps you don’t use; iOS will let you hide entire pages of your home screen, and instead, get access to your apps through the new App Library: a home screen page that contains all the apps on your phone, automatically organized into folders based on type, with the apps that you use the most often surfaced for an easy click.
iMessage is making group messages infinitely better with threads and mentions.
Apple is bringing some key improvements to iMessage. First, you’re going to be able to pin conversations to the top of your iMessage conversations. This way, you’ll be able to find more important conversations faster. The biggest change to your actual messages is the new feature that allows inline replies and mentions when in group chats. This is a popular feature that has been on workplace apps like Slack for a long time because it makes group conversations to be way more manageable, and it should make your larger group chats more pleasant to be in as well.
Your iPhone is getting translation powers
iOS 14 is going to bring a brand-new app called Translate that’s very similar to the Google Translate that Android apps have had for years. The Translate app will have a side-by-side that will allow two people to have a conversation in two different languages.
App Clips will make managing third-party apps much easier.
App Clips are a software feature that enable you to use third-party apps to do things like pay for parking, rent a car or order food from a specific restaurant, without you having to actually download them. These new App Clips are compatible with Apple Pay and Sign in with Apple, and you can use them by scanning a QR code or a specific App Clip code to instantly summon them onto your phone, for the 30 seconds or so you need to use them.
AirPods Pro are getting Dolby Atmos surround sound.
Apple announced two new features that are coming to the AirPods you already own. First, there’s automatic switching. If you use your AirPods or AirPods Pro with multiple devices at the same time, like an iPhone and iPad, your AirPods will automatically and instantly be able to detect which one you’re using and switch to it. No more having to deal with Bluetooth Settings.
The biggest update is just for AirPods Pro. Apple is bringing a new “Spatial Audio” feature that allows you to listen to a more immersive 3D sound. The feature utilizes the built-in accelerometer in the AirPods Pro to know exactly where your head in relation to the screen you’re watching, and it’ll then adjust the audio accordingly. This new Spatial Audio feature will support audio immersive sound technologies that sound like you’re listening to a 5.1-channel, 7.1-channel or a Dolby Atmos home theater system. Basically, there’s another reason to upgrade from the regular AirPods.
A new sci-fi series called Foundation is coming to Apple TV Plus.
Apple announced that a brand-new sci-fi series would be coming to Apple TV Plus in 2021. It’s called Foundation and it’s based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov. According to Apple, it “chronicles a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization.” You can watch the trailer below.
The Apple Watch will (finally) get its own sleep tracking app.
The Apple Watch is getting a few key updates with watchOS 7, including more customizable watch faces (that you can actually share with other Apple Watch owners) and a dedicated Fitness app (previously, the Activity app) that can track dancing and cycling workouts. But the most anticipated upcoming new feature is sleeping tracking. With watchOS 7, your Apple Watch will have a native app called Sleep that will track your sleep cycles, as well as enable you to set bedtimes at night and alarms to wake you up in the morning. There’s also a Sleep Mode that will dim your Apple Watch screen at night. Naturally, this sleep tracking will demand more in terms of battery life from your Apple Watch, so if you’re committed to using it, you’ll probably need to charge your Apple Watch during the day.
The new macOS is “Big Sur” and it looks more like iOS than ever.
macOS is adopting iconography from iOS, and has a newer, simplified look for windows that brings the visual elements of MacOS a little more inline with how iOS looks. Most of the details are minor and cosmetic, but it all adds up to a much more unified look across all Apple devices. macOS is also picking up some other features directly from iOS, like Control Center.
Apple’s Macs are about to get a huge, huge change under the hood
Just as rumored, Apple is starting to make its own microchips for Macs, the same way it makes its own microchips for the iPhone and iPad. It’s an nerdy, under-the-hood change, but it’s a big big deal, that brings Apple’s laptops, phones, and tablets much much closer together than ever before, and maybe even lays the groundwork for them to eventually share the same operating system. In the meantime? If the transition goes as planned, Apple’s next generation of MacBook with these chips are going to be thinner and have better battery life than ever before. There may be a few hitches along the way though; this change also requires developers to make changes to their apps to support this big change. All of Apple’s first party apps (as well as the Office apps from Microsoft and Adobe’s Creative Suite) have already been converted, which should hopefully make the transition fairly smooth. For apps that haven’t been converted, Apple’s “Rosetta” technology will let you run apps that haven’t been converted.
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