While we wait in anticipation for the official launch of the iPhone 12, Apple has already given us a preview of iOS 14 (Read about the WWDC announcement here). It boasts a suite new features and resembles similar UI features that Android has been tinkering for a while now. I am of course referring to the highly anticipated widgets function.
I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the iOS 14 beta and will take you through all the shiny new features before deciding if it’s a huge update or just a subtle one?
Feature 1: Widgets
If you're an iPhone lover who always wanted widgets cause they look cool on Android, this update finally brings it to iOS. I’ve only played around with the stock Apple apps as iOS 14 is still in beta and developers have yet to finalize their own widgets but for a demo this was plenty impressive.
All the widgets can also be resized into different sizes; enlarged to take up almost half of the home screen or just a part of it. Apple also introduced what they're calling a Smart Stack widget.
With a Smart Stack feature, the iPhone can use on-device intelligence to surface the right widget based on time, location, and activity. With the inclusion of widgets, Apple has finally allow us to also hide 1 or several pages of the home screen too, finally!
Feature 2: App Library
Android has this nifty feature called the app drawer that allows you to find all the apps installed on your phone at the tap of a button. Apple has since replicated that feature in iOS 14 calling it the App Library instead.
Accessing the App Library is easy too. Just swipe all the way to the end of the app pages on your iPhone to automatically bring up the App Library, which shows you all your apps in a single glance.
Apps are organized into a folder system, but there are also Apple-created folders like Suggestions. New app downloads can be added to your Home Screen or kept in the App Library to keep your Home Screen tidy. You can do this is by going into Settings > Home Screen and setting it from there.
Feature 3:New Incoming Calls UI
I think this is the feature that would get a lot more love than the widgets feature or maybe it'll be a tie.
Finally, incoming calls will not take up the whole screen! That means, no more spam calls interrupting you on your gaming/streaming/browsing time. I'm personally super glad that Apple finally listening to its customers and changing this UI. Android phased these awful full-screen calls out years ago so they really had no excuse 😅
Feature 4:Picture in Picture Mode
Another a well known Android feature (are you starting to see a pattern here 😂) that has made its way to iOS 14 is the Picture in Picture (PIP) mode. Users can watch videos on streaming apps like Netflix while browsing other apps at the same time.
Whatever you're streaming will simply be minimized to play on a small window that can be resized and relocated to any corner of the iPhone's screen. I’ve tested and videos on Safari and Netflix works perfectly. Unfortunately for Youtube, this feature has been disabled as Google only allows users who has Youtube Premium to utilise PIP (BOO 👎).
Meh for Youtube but Yass for Netflix. Now you can chat with your friends and watch your favorite show at the same time. This truly is multi-tasking at its best!
Feature 5: Siri new UI
Siri also gets a facelift with tweaks to her UI. Siri still rests at the bottom of your screen but now creates the illusion that she doesn't take up your entire screen (but actually still does). Overall, the interface looks much cleaner and is not as outdated as its current look on iOS 13.
Siri is also a whole lot smarter in iOS 14 with one report touting that she knows 20x more facts than she did 3 years ago.
Feature 6: New Apple Translate app
With the new Apple Translate app, Apple Users might be able to ditch Google Translate. That's if of course Apple Translate app works as well as Google does 😏
Apple Translate app essentially provides text and voice translations to and from 11 languages. An On-Device Mode lets languages be downloaded for on-device translations only, and a Conversation Mode speaks translations aloud so users can talk with someone that speaks a different language.
The coolest part is that it automatically detects the language being spoken and translates appropriately. Currently the only supported languages include Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. As I have no knowledge of the 11 languages listed, I can't say for sure how good the translation by the app is. Perhaps when Apple releases a Malay Language pack I can give feedback then.
Feature 7: Seamless transition for AirPods & AirPods Pro
With iOS 14, AirPods can seamlessly and automatically switch between Apple devices with automated device switching dependent on user behaviour. For example, they could detect that you’re watching video on your Macbook so your Airpods will automatically pair with your laptop but if there is an incoming phone call, the airpods will switch to reconnect with your iPhone.
For AirPods Pro, there's a new spatial audio feature for surround sound, complete with dynamic head tracking. iOS 14 also provides notifications when the battery in AirPods or AirPods Pro is close to dying. Unfortunately I was unable to test this feature out so I can’t vouch on how seamless it is on the transition.
Feature 8: More Privacy for Users
Updated privacy protections require developers to get permission before accessing devices on a local network. There are also new options that limit access to select photos or providing apps with only approximate location data.
All apps are now required to get user permission before tracking them across websites, and new icons show up on the Home Screen when an app is using a camera or microphone. Apps using the microphone are represented by an orange dot whereas video uses the colour green and if both the mic and video are on, both colours will displayed.
I personally love this feature cause I will know which app look into my clipboard and also who uses my video or microphone without knowing. Safari also will show if any website is using trackers to track or try to profile you.
iOS 14 is a brilliant new OS updates as it includes many features that will benefit Apple Users especially with regards to privacy. Personal data can be stolen/leaked so easily so the safeguards we mentioned are increasingly critical.
Any Android fans waiting to make the jump Apple but were hesitant to do so can now switch with confidence as Apple is closer than ever to the Android System with iOS 14. I've had a great time with the beta iOS 14 and honestly can't wait for the official release. When paired with the iPhone 12, I'm sure this will Apple's crowning achievement in 2020.
This article was contributed by our Circles.Life user: Danie Alexander Raymond
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