Apple WWDC 2020: The 18 Biggest Announcements

WWDC 2020 was exclusive to Apple before it even began. It is the first time Apple has hosted its developer conference solely online with no in-person event. Nonetheless, there have been some major announcements, including several that you would have predicted and some that might shock you.


We walked through every moment of our live blog, featuring commentaries from Nilay Patel, Dieter Bohn, and none other than Walt Mossberg, and I suggest you read that if you want the conference’s play-by-play analysis. So, if you only want the rundown on what you need to know about WWDC 2020, the biggest announcements are here.

Apple details iOS 14, its next major software update

Apple WWDC 2020: The 18 Biggest Announcements

Apple offered a first look at iOS 14, this year’s latest update to iPhones. The most notable change comes in the form of widgets on the home screen that you can place. It is as if Apple Watch apps have entered the home screen of your iPhone — it is a very big deal that changes the appearance of the iOS device. Apple is debuting these new widgets in a range of shapes and sizes, and the hope is that you can have more data-rich details on your home screen. If you want more, you can have them through the Widget Gallery.

This is also introducing App Library, a new functionality that organizes applications automatically based on their categories. It looks great for quick access to applications that normally live outside the first or second page.

Picture-in-picture is moving into iOS 14. If you watch a full-screened video swipe away, the window will float on your home screen allowing you to resize and transfer the video. PiP is not a completely unique feature, but Apple does make it its own by allowing you to reduce the PiP in a small button on the screen side. That way, if you need to look at the whole screen for a moment, you do not need to exit the video.

More varied Memoji are coming with iOS 14

Apple WWDC 2020: The 18 Biggest Announcements

In the next big software update, Memoji are getting an upgrade like more age choices, Memoji accessories including face masks, and emotions like blushing. It may seem like a small addition, but if you wanted to live the dream of interacting only via Memoji it is perfect.

Apple Maps is getting a dedicated map view for cycling and EV users

Apple WWDC 2020: The 18 Biggest Announcements
Image: Apple

Coming with iOS 14 is a major update to Apple Maps which includes, among other things, a new cycling-specific navigation. It may alert you to elevation increases as well as a notification if you need to carry it up stairs to get to where you are going. Apple says this will come first in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Shanghai and Beijing, though more will come in the months after the release of iOS 14.

WWDC: It will also get a view that helps EV drivers to know where chargers are along their routes.

Apple is debuting its digital car key, coming in iOS 13 and iOS 14

Apple introduced a new way to unlock and start your car, well, for now it is only the BMW 5 Series. You will register a key in your Apple Wallet, and you will unlock it via NFC when you walk up to a sponsored vehicle, then start the engine once your phone rests on a table. The keys are stored on computer, so if you need to, they can be deleted from the cloud. What is cool about this feature, too, is that you can create unique driving profiles for other iPhone users, granting user-specific permissions for, say, your child, or no restrictions for someone else, like a spouse or other trusted individual.

App Clips are coming in iOS 14

Apple WWDC 2020: The 18 Biggest Announcements
Image: Apple

Apple has debuted App Clips that are like its Android version of Instant Apps. The point is that, in addition to being able to make a purchase via it through Apple Pay, you do not need to download a complete app to obtain access to what it provides. If you are someone who does not want to download more apps than you really need, it seems great.

A few changes coming to iPadOS 14

Compared to iOS 14, widgets arrive on the next iPadOS version. If you can put those out of today ‘s view and into the home screen, as you do on iPhone, is not yet clear.

Apple is bragging about a new sidebar as its way to make navigating apps much easier. It showed it works on Apple Music and other applications. If you use your iPad as a substitute for a laptop, the sidebar will make it easier to do more without having to touch the screen.

WWDC: Apple has also updated an iPad app, which looks almost exactly like Spotlight on macOS. It can help you find contacts, search the web or serve to launch apps as a Launchpad-like function.

Handwriting with Apple Pencil is about to get better with iPadOS 14

Apple has debuted a new feature called Scribble that allows you to write with the Apple Pencil in any text field and then it will automatically be converted to text. The function will automatically detect the meaning of the details you write, such as a phone number or address, and then, when filmed, direct you to the appropriate app.

This functionality can also turn multi-language handwriting into text on the iPad.

AirPods will soon be able to seamlessly switch devices

WWDC: Apple is updating the software running on AirPods to allow it to automatically connect to any paired device that will start playing audio. You will no longer need to manually select the source to which you wish to connect.

The AirPods Pro are getting spatial audio

Apple WWDC 2020: The 18 Biggest Announcements
Image: Apple

In the AirPods Pro, Apple uses the accelerometer to provide spatial audio that tracks your head (and the location of your device). Spatial audio should give you a more immersive listening experience by making you feel within the audio mix.

WatchOS 7’s Face Swapping feature makes it easy to share and get new watchfaces

WWDC: You have seen a watchface you like but do not know how to get it? Apple is making the sharing of watch faces easier with a new feature called Face Swapping. You can attach a watchface to your Apple Watch by finding one on the website of a developer, or by using the social media.

The Apple Watch will track dancing in watchOS 7

The fitness app uses the gyroscope and accelerometer of Apple Watch, combined with the heart rate data, to monitor a variety of styles of dance. This is a type of workout that no other firm has figured out, so I am curious to see how it turns out.

Sleep tracking is coming with watchOS 7

Apple is monitoring your sleep using machine learning. It uses sensor from Apple.

WWDC: Watch to monitor your motion. The companion app on iPhone does not require an Apple Watch to use, but with one, your metrics will probably be a little more thorough. Apple has not dived into the nuances of how it monitors sleep, but in the future we will be searching for that.

WatchOS 7 can track handwashing

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, handwashing is a huge deal right now. With this, watchOS 7 gets a feature that uses learning machines to decide when you start washing your hands. The watch’s microphones listen for the splashing water sound to indicate you are actually washing your hands, then a sweet countdown on the watchface begins.

Apple develops a new smart home standard alongside Google, Amazon, and others

Apple 2020: The 18 Biggest Announcements

WWDC: In addition to HomeKit-compatible products, Apple aims to expand what kind of smart home software its consumers will use, so it has established a new partnership with the likes of Google, Amazon, Zigbee and other companies to do just that. It has totally flew through this section without any other detail, but we are going to be watching to see where this is going.

Apple TV is getting multiuser support for Apple Arcade

If you have ever wanted to swap profiles quickly so that someone else can play an Apple Arcade game without losing your progress, with an upcoming update you will be able to do that quickly. The Xbox Elite 2 wireless controller and the Xbox Adaptive controller are supported by Apple too.

Apple TV is getting picture-in-picture in tvOS 14

Any video app in tvOS 14 can display on Apple TV in a PiP formation. Simply put, you will be able to watch more stuff on your TV without switching apps. You can keep tabs on the news while you are working out, to give an example.

Apple’s new macOS Big Sur software looks a lot like iOS

Apple 2020: The 18 Biggest Announcements

Apple released the next big software upgrade for the mac, dubbed macOS Big Sur. It features a big design redesign that more closely fits where iOS and iPadOS have been going for the last few years. It also gets a lot of features coming up on iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, including widgets, messaging upgrades including grouping and pinned messages, and the ability to edit your Memoji.

Apple is announcing its new silicon for its future computers

For years, Apple has been using Intel-based processors, but it does make the long-rumored move to its own silicon. It is been using its own technology for iPhones and iPads and it does not make the leap to cover the entire computing product range.

WWDC: The transformation is huge. It is a big hardware change, unleashing Apple’s own efforts to make components, rather than being tied to Intel’s progress, but it is also a huge software shift. Apple allows applications made for Intel-based devices to be installed on the latest Macs as well as devices from other systems, such as Linux. Furthermore, it can also run iPhone and iPad applications, which is a big deal, to say the least, due to the use of custom hardware

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