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| April 21, 2021

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What's new in iOS 14, iPad OS 14, MacOS Big Sur & more | WWDC 2020

What’s new in iOS 14, iPad OS 14, MacOS Big Sur & more | WWDC 2020
David McGinley

Today heralded Apple’s latest WWDC – it’s developer conference where we get a sneak peek into features we’ll see in software later this year. It’s a busy one so let’s get started.

iOS 14

Homescreen, App Library and Widgets. The biggest change to the iPhone home screen since it was first invented 14 years ago, now you’ll get widgets –  looking better than ever, coming in different sizes and finally being pinnable on the iPhone home screen. Wonder where we’ve seen that one before 😉 but we are still really excited about this one! With Picture In Picture – One for all you Netflix junkies out there, you can keep watching Tiger King while you catch up on Twitter. There’s also the App Library – instead of having pages of apps, you can have automatically generated folders and an easy list of apps to help clean up your iPhone.

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This mixes nicely with enhanced universal search across Apple devices. You’ll also see some of these come to other apple products, with widgets extending into iPad OS 14 and MacOS Big Sur. It’s divided opinion in TheEffect Whatsapp group but I’m personally a fan of having the option and I’m excited to see what developers do with it.

In terms of the best of the rest coming to iOS 14..

Siri gets a visual redesign when invoking it and also when displaying results. With 20x the answers, language translation and audio messages – it’s nice to see Apple finally reinvest in Siri. Messages – now lets you pin conversations (like WhatsApp), has new memoji (including face coverings!), in-line replies to specific messages and being able to @mention people. You can finally choose default apps for Browsers and Email – now do Music apple! Maps get enhanced maps in Ireland with better detail and looks – guides to cities and cycling directions – sadly that last one isn’t coming to Dublin yet. Calls finally don’t take over your whole screen. EV routing comes to iPhone which I’m sure Derek will love and new EVs from BMW and Ford will integrate even closer, taking charge levels into account. Speaking of cars, there is more support for new types of app – from Parking to EV charge points and food ordering services, wallpaper support and something that’s a first for any non-Telsa owner – Carkey. This lets your iPhone become your car key and incredibly lets you share your car key with varying degrees of access choosable via the messages app. We’re truly living in the future with that one!

With the App Store, we heard about App Clips – mini versions of apps that let you do specific stuff without downloading an app. It might be scanning a QR code on a Dublin Bus Stop to get the real time information or scanning a bleeper bike and being able to instantly register and pay for access using Sign In With Apple and Apple Pay. Now those two examples don’t exist currently but we’d love to see them become a reality. App Clips really do feel like a small announcement but that’ll see huge success – especially for those who travel a lot and find downloading and registering for a ton of apps a bit of a hassle.

What’s new for iPad OS, Airpods, Home WatchOS and TV OS

Not a huge amount of updates specifically for the iPad this time around with a new refined design language for iPad showed off in Photos and Music. Search works great with iPad OS with universal search. Scribble comes to iPad so you can write text and convert to normal text anywhere using the Apple Pencil. Airpods get seamless transfer so if you get a call on your phone while you’re listening to Netflix on your iPad, it’ll automatically switch over and the Airpods Pro get Spatial Audio (working with 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos). Home gets some nice upgrades with an easier flow for adding new devices and if you have an Apple TV – being able to see your cameras in Picture In Picture and set alert zones via the Home App.

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WatchOS 7 enables multiple complications from an app (think multiple shortcuts for different types of workouts), new watch faces, new workouts like dancing but most importantly sleep tracking. Here’s hoping Apple manages to make charging Apple Watches even faster and easier with the new model later this year because we’re feeling skeptical about this one. Plus, you’ll even see automatic hand washing detection with a guide to ensure you spend your 20 seconds washing your hands. Who knew we needed technology to tell us to wash our hands properly but here we are! Finally, we saw updates to privacy with more options, transparency and enhanced functionality for Sign In With Apple – letting you update your regular accounts to Sign In With Apple.

MacOS Big Sur

MacOS gets a total visual redesign, bringing it much closer to iPad OS 14 and iOS 14 in it’s visual look and feel, everything has a bit more room to breathe and has a deeper focus on content which is nice. The doc now looks like an iPad dock, the sidebar is slightly transparent and the toolbar looks much cleaner. With the same iconography as iOS 14 it also looks more consistent too. It does look like something that suits 2020 and not 2010 finally. Those small tweaks make a difference. The new macOS also introduces a huge up to Safari, claiming its browser loads popular websites 50 percent faster than Chrome and is easier on battery. With control centre on the mac and grouped notifications too it does help bring it in line with iOS 14. Speaking of iOS 14, expect more iOS apps coming to mac with programming languages converging and lots of backend stuff done to ensure you can run apps across iPhone, iPad and the Mac but Apple’s final announcement will let you access and run any of their iOS and iPad OS apps… 

Finally, Mac is transitioning away from Intel to it’s own Apple Silicon meaning you can expect a new level of performance and hopefully battery life. We’ve seen exactly how strong Apple has been at making their own chips with the iPhone and iPad so we’re hopeful. The transition will take two years with the first public devices available by the end of the year. Even if you hop on the bleeding edge here, we’re promised great performance with tools to ensure there won’t be much disruption.

So, was it a good WWDC this year? Yes! Apple continued their trend of actually listening to their customers, giving us a bit more choice and a few features we didn’t even know we wanted and yes, I want CarKey for my car yesterday. We got to the the iPhone get one of it’s biggest visual and day to day changes ever, the Mac / iPad OS convergence getting it’s latest boost and lots of nice little upgrades that add up to a lot for day to day users. Developers can test from today, the public from July and then everyone gets it at general release later this year (most likely September knowing Apple!).

For all the latest on Apple’s new software and devices, keep an eye on

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