Apple showcases iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and more with next-gen tools in Covid times

Apple on Monday kicked off its annual developer conference WWDC20 in a virtual avatar with CEO Tim Cook addressing racism and a call to “being a force for change”. What followed was mega updates in the Apple ecosystem starting with iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and WatchOS7 amd MacOS, among others.

The next major version of iOS is set to be released later this year and the most visual change is that the home screen will now have widgets.

In iOS 14, Apple users can pin widgets with updating information on the home screen, including calendar and maps mini-programmes. Users can drag a widget onto the iPhone home screen, where it will remain.

Users can create a Smart Stack of widgets, which uses on-device intelligence to surface the right widget based on time, location, and activity, said Apple.

“At the end of the Home Screen pages is the App Library, a new space that automatically organises all of a user’s apps into one simple, easy-to-navigate view, and intelligently surfaces apps that may be helpful in the moment,” said the company.

With Picture-in-Picture support, iPhone users can now watch a video or take a FaceTime call while using another app.

“iOS 14 transforms the most iconic elements of the iPhone experience, starting with the biggest update we’ve ever made to the Home Screen,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.

New Memoji options in Messages are even more inclusive and diverse with additional hairstyles, headwear, face coverings, and more.

In iOS 14, Apple Maps makes it easier than ever to navigate and explore with new cycling directions, electric vehicle routing, and curated Guides.

Apple also announced Translate which is designed to be an easiest app for translating conversations, offering quick and natural translation of voice and text among 11 different languages.

On-device mode allows users to experience the features of the app offline for private voice and text translation.

“Siri expands its knowledge, helps find answers from across the internet, and can now send audio messages. Keyboard dictation runs on device when dictating messages, notes, email, and more,” said Apple.

In iOS 14, AirPods gain the ability to seamlessly switch between Apple devices with automatic device switching..

Apple also announced digital car keys that would give users a secure way to use iPhone or Apple Watch to unlock and start their car, beginning with BMW.

Digital car keys can be easily shared using Messages, or disabled through iCloud if a device is lost, and are available starting this year through NFC.

Apple also previewed iPadOS 14, with new features and designs that take advantage of the unique capabilities of iPad and its large Multi-Touch display.

iPadOS 14 introduces an all-new compact design for incoming FaceTime and phone calls, Siri interactions, and Search to help users stay focused on the task at hand.

iPadOS 14 brings Scribble to iPad with Apple Pencil, allowing users to write in any text field – where it will automatically be converted to typed text – making actions like replying to an iMessage or searching in Safari fast and easy.

The company also announced new watchOS7 that delivers enhanced customisation tools and powerful new health and fitness features to Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch will have new watch face configurations and health features like sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection, additional workout types including dance, and a new hearing health feature.

Conveniently on the wrist, Maps is updated with cycling directions and Siri now offers language translation, said Apple.

“watchOS 7 brings sleep tracking, automatic handwashing detection, and new workout types together with a whole new way to discover and use watch faces, helping our users stay healthy, active, and connected,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.

With watchOS 7, Apple Watch introduces sleep tracking, taking a holistic approach to sleep by providing valuable tools to help users get the desired amount of sleep, get to bed on time, and create a pre-bedtime routine to meet their sleep goals.

Washing hands properly for at least 20 seconds can help prevent the spread of illness like Covid-19 virus.

Apple Watch now uses the motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning to automatically detect handwashing motions and sounds.

It then initiates a 20-second countdown timer, and if the user finishes early, they will be prompted to keep washing. Apple Watch can also conveniently remind the user to wash their hands when they return home.

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