Widgets, Virtual Car Keys, And 19 Other Cool Updates From Apple's Developers Conference

Let's take a look at some of the new software updates and products that were announced yesterday.

Cover image via Apple/YouTube

On Monday, 22 June, Apple live-streamed its 31st Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) to announce a series of upcoming products and software updates

Apple's chief executive officer (CEO) Tim Cook addressed an empty theatre with his opening statement regarding recent events in the US and across the globe. After which he swiftly moved on to talking about the new things they are launching.

Image via Apple/YouTube

Let's take a look at some of the new features and products that were revealed at the conference yesterday:

1. iOS 14: Virtual car keys

iOS 14, the beta version of which is to be released in July, is set to use the near-field communication (NFC) in recent iPhones to unlock cars. Though this may not be new technology, having the feature on your iPhone will allow you to give your kids, relatives, or friends access to the car via Messages, saving you from needing to get another key cut.

It also has added security benefits as you can turn off your keys via iCloud if your phone goes missing.

This function will be available with the release of BMW's 5 Series next year.

Image via Apple/YouTube

2. iOS 14: Picture in Picture

Already a feature of the iPad, Picture in Picture will finally be available on the iPhone. 

Alongside the main function of having a video continue to play no matter which app you are on, Picture in Picture on the iPhone also comes with much needed upgrades. 

If you find the window distracting, you may choose to swipe the video off to the side, where it will be docked. However, the audio will continue to play. This ability differentiates Apple's Picture in Picture capabilities as compared to Android's. 

Image via Apple/YouTube

3. iOS 14: App Library and widgets

You can now more easily navigate your app pages with the App Library and widgets.

The App Library, which will be found at the end of all your app pages, organises your apps into more user-friendly folders.

If you would like to de-clutter your iPhone further, you now have the option of hiding app pages, leaving behind just the App Library.

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Though home screen widgets have featured on Android since its release in 2008, you will now be able to customise your home page with certain apps, such as Calendar or Weather, to fit your daily needs. 

Image via Apple/YouTube

4. iOS 14: Siri

Siri will no longer take up the whole screen, but instead will be minimised to the bottom of the screen. 

Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi noted during the conference, "This is especially great when there's information you want to reference on screen." 

Image via Apple/YouTube

Apple's virtual assistant also got an upgrade as Siri now has 20 times more facts that it did three years ago. 

Aside from that, Siri can also help with sending voice messages and translation.

Image via Apple/YouTube

5. iOS 14: Translate

The new app, Translate, is equipped to interpret between any of these 11 languages: Arabic, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Russian.

Conversation mode puts the two languages side-by-side on the screen while automatically detecting which language is being spoken at the time.

It can run completely offline to ensure all conversations are private.

Image via Apple/YouTube

6. iOS 14: App Clip

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you simply did not have the right app at the right time? Well, Apple has introduced App Clips to solve just that. 

Using this, you can scan any QR code or NFC tags - at restaurants or parking meters - and sign into your Apple account to log on or pay the fee directly. 

Image via Apple/YouTube

7. Maps

With the new iOS update, Maps will see several new additions.

The EV Routing algorithm will now take into account charging stations for electric vehicle drivers, along with the weather, a route's elevation, and the car's current charge.

Partnering with other companies, Apple is releasing 'Guide' on Maps - curated lists of restaurant and attraction recommendations. These will be automatically updated so that you will receive the latest information.

Image via Apple/YouTube

8. Memoji

Memojis will soon be customisable with 20 new hair and headwear styles, as well as greater options for age. 

Image via Apple/YouTube

9. Messages

The newly configured Messages app will enable users to pin their favourite contacts at the top of the app for easy access. 

Pinned contacts will also come with animations that makes incoming messages a priority. 

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Just like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, group chats will be streamlined as users can soon directly reply to a specific message or person.

They will also be able to tag someone within the group conversation. You can then choose to only be notified when your name is mentioned.

Image via Apple/YouTube
Image via Apple/YouTube

The app also received a minor makeover that makes group conversations more personalised. Aside from customising the group chat's icon, each person's profile picture will surround the icon, and even animate when that person is typing!

Image via Apple/YouTube

10. iPadOS 14: Scribble

This is a pretty big one for all Apple Pencil users out there. 

Handwriting on the iPad has been optimised so that you no longer have to switch between using your Apple Pencil and the built-in keyboard. 

You will soon be allowed to handwrite in any text field and have it automatically convert into text. The iPad can also recognise multiple languages on the same line.

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Like Procreate, you can also neaten up any simple shapes by drawing and holding onto them

By integrating the Scribble function that was previously only on Mac computers, you will also be able to treat all handwritten notes like text. For instance, you can select, copy and paste, and move a chunk of handwritten text around.

Image via Apple/YouTube

11. iPadOS 14: Search

The all-in-one search bar on the iPad will allow you to search for just about anything. From apps to questions, and even website URLs, the search function will either answer or redirect you to the appropriate place. 

Image via Apple/YouTube

12. Minimised call alerts

On both the iPhone and iPad, users will experience a more sleek design as incoming calls will no longer take up the whole screen. 

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13. WatchOS 7: Fitness and added workouts

Likely available around October or November this year, WatchOS 7 will allow Apple Watch wearers to track dance workouts, particularly Hip Hop, Latin, Bollywood, and simple cardio dances. Additionally, users can soon track core and functional strength training, as well as cool-downs.

With the watch's in-built accelerometer and gyroscopes, any movement will be detected. 

All this will be summarised in the newly rebranded Activity app on the iPhone, Fitness. 

Image via Apple/YouTube

14. WatchOS 7: Complications

Similar to the introduction of widgets, one can now customise the watch face to reveal the exact information you need. 

Some examples include utilising the app Glow Baby so that your watch shows your child's nap, changing, and feeding times, or integrating the Nike Run Club app which will reveal the pace from your last run and weekly run goals on the watch face. 

These personalised faces can be shared with other Apple Watch wearers through Face Sharing.

Image via Apple/YouTube

15. WatchOS 7: Sleep tracker

Through the machine-learning model, your Apple Watch will be able to detect any motion or micro-movements, like the rise and fall of your chest, while you sleep. 

This will connect with your phone to reveal your sleep patterns. You can also configure the 'Wind Down' feature on the iPhone so that it can help you prepare for your desired bedtime with gentle reminders. 

Image via Apple/YouTube

Apple also introduced the taptic-only (vibration) alarm on the watch, so that you will not disturb your partner or child when waking up.

16. WatchOS 7: Handwashing sensor

Amid the pandemic, Apple has tried to reinforce the need for thorough handwashing with an update to the Apple Watch. 

A countdown for 20 seconds will now be initiated whenever the watch detects the motion of handwashing and the sounds of running water.

Image via Apple/YouTube

17. AirPods: Automatic switching

Tired of having to manually connect your AirPods each time you switch to a different device? Well, Apple has come up with a solution. 

With automatic switching, you can now seamlessly move between your devices for when you need to pick up a call on your iPhone while you are using your AirPods to watch a video on your Mac.

Image via Apple/YouTube

18. AirPods Pro: Surround sound

Apple is bringing the cinema experience directly to you with spatial audio on the AirPods Pro. 

Using directional audio filters and making subtle adjustments to the frequencies each ear receives, the AirPods Pro will be able to create an immersive surround sound experience.

Image via Apple/YouTube

19. Privacy

Apple has improved privacy in several ways including:
- Offering the option to share your approximate rather than exact location with applications.
- An orange dot will appear on the top bar if an app is using either the device's microphone or camera.
- It will ask before tracking you.
- The App Store will now show privacy summaries for each of the applications.

Image via Apple/YouTube

20. Apple TV: Multi-user support

If you have multiple people in a household playing Apple Arcade games, you can now save each user's game progress with Multi-user support.

Image via Apple/YouTube

21. Apple Silicon

Finally, Apple announced their very own Apple Silicon, a new processor for Mac computers. It is intended to deliver better performance at lower power consumption. This means they will be shifting away from Intel processors.

The company is hoping to ship new systems by the end of this year, with hopes of rolling out the processor across the rest of the Mac line over the next two years. 

Image via Apple/YouTube

What was your favourite release from WWDC? Let us know!

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