It’s the latest update for Apple’s mobile operating system, an autumn tradition that brings new features to the iPhone and iPad as well as a new coat of paint to older models.
On Tuesday, Apple will hold its annual product launch in a virtual demo from its corporate campus in Cupertino, where new versions of the iPad and Apple Watch will be showcased and users will be reminded of some of the new features in iOS14. (You can view the presentations on apple.com.)
This year, Apple is putting privacy at the center of the new iOS, which Apple traditionally released in the third week of September (last year on September 19). The iPhone release is postponed until October, and Apple is expected to host another event for the iPhone next month.
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The privacy feature, which Facebook has come out against, lets users know when apps like the social network are using data to “track” you or “be linked to” you by using your financial and contact information, browsing history and the Capture location. Users are asked for their permission to allow Facebook to do so. With Facebook expected to say no, Facebook has been warned that it will suffer a financial blow if the feature is activated.
Apple is delaying this feature until early 2021 to give developers like Facebook, Snapchat, and others time to resolve the issues. However, there are a few other features to look forward to. I downloaded the beta version of iOS14 last week and spent some time on it. Let me tell you what I found.
For years fans of Android smartphones have been able to customize their home screens with a “widget” feature that lets you decide whether you want to see a big clock, the weather, headlines, and the like. Now you can do that in iOS14 by swiping the home screen left and clicking the edit button for a better experience. Even if it’s a bargain, it’s a nice thing, just as the Google Translate app has always been a lifesaver when traveling internationally. Now Apple is adding its translation function to the operating system via the new, pre-installed translation app or Siri’s personal assistant. Ask a question like “How do I say hello in Japanese?” You get the answer and the ability to keep the conversation going.
If you’re like me, you have tons of apps on your phone, so many that you lose track of them. In the past, Apple offered the option to create folders of your choice. Apparently, Apple feels like consumers aren’t making the effort. Because this year Apple is rolling out automatic bundling of similar apps with entertainment, social, utilities, reading, health, and others categories that they’ll create for you whether you like it or not. That is theoretically good. However, because this is done automatically, you may not agree with the decisions Apple has made. And there is no tool to change the selection. (You can still create folders the old-fashioned, manual way, however.)
You were on the phone before and the black background of the call has taken over your screen. In a move that is especially helpful for those who speak on speakers, the call portion takes up a small percentage of the screen and you can see more of your iPhone property.
Apple’s map app is getting two useful new functions this year. Bike instructions, which have been an integral part of Google Maps for years, are finally due at Apple – even though they didn’t work in the beta edition for my region. Second, Apple offers “guides” to cities like New York, San Francisco and London with tips on what to do when visiting – after the pandemic, of course. There will only be a handful of them at the beginning, but more cities will be added in the coming months.
The personal assistant, which debuted in 2011, is smarter this year, according to Apple. According to Siri, there are “more than 20 times more facts than there were three years ago”. In my tests, it was actually more talkative and smarter. Siri still has the annoying tendency to answer a question by saying, “Here’s what I found on the web,” instead of answering you, but it has happened less often this time.
Start your car with iOS
This is arguably the most fascinating new feature of all, the ability to use your iPhone to open your car and get your engine running. But even if it’s part of iOS14, don’t get your hopes up. The feature works with just one manufacturer, BMW, on a range of models made after July 2020. But it is definitely worth looking forward to.
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