Apple just unveiled new versions of the Apple Watch and iPad, but a new iPhone isn’t expected until next month.
But even if you’re not holding out for the latest phone, the new iOS 14 update can give your current model a refresh — for free. The next version of the iPhone operating system rolls out to iPhone 6s models and later starting Wednesday.
Apple teased new features in the update at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, including new ways to discover and organize apps, as well as the ability to unlock your car with your iPhone. (The feature will only work with a BMW model for now.)
iOS 14 will include a new feature called App Library, which automatically organizes the apps on your homescreen so you don’t have to scroll through several pages to find what you’re looking for.
These are the biggest changes coming to iOS 14.
Apple is giving an easier way to discover and access new apps with a feature called App Clips. It offers a small part of an app for use at the moment it’s needed, whether it’s for ordering an on-demand scooter or a burger from a restaurant. These apps are small in size and integrate with Apple Pay. Users can then opt to download the full version of the app from the App Store.
The new functionality can be accessed by scanning a new App Clip code or using a QR. They can also be shared in messages or via the Safari web browser.
Upgrades to group chats
As group messaging grows on iMessage, Apple took inspiration for new features from one of the leading workplace messaging services.
Apple announced new updates to group chats, including the option to pin the most important conversations to the top of the list of messages and mention others in group chats, similar to Slac. Users will get a notification that they’ve been mentioned.
Users will also be able to set a group photo using an image or emoji. Plus, Apple’s avatars, called Memoji, have more hairstyles, age options and face masks, for the pandemic era.
Digital car keys
First Apple took on credit cards, now Apple wants to replace your car keys. It teased a new tool that will allow people to use an iPhone or Apple Watch to unlock and start their car. Initially, it will only be available with the new 2021 BMW 5 series.
Digital car keys can also be shared with other people, such as family members, using messages.
The next generation of the technology will let users unlock cars without taking their iPhone out of their pocket. It is expected to be available next year.
AirPods are getting an update, too. Apple’s popular wireless earbuds will more seamlessly switch between devices and audio. For example, users can finish an audiobook and then pick up their iPad to watch a TV show. When someone calls, the audio will automatically switch to the call.
The pricier Pro version will now have a new feature called “spatial audio” that aims to replicate a surround sound or movie theater experience.
The new Translate app can translate text and audio in 11 different languages, including English, Spanish, French and Mandarin.
The app can translate in real time when two people are speaking different languages to an iPhone.
Watch a video while doing other things
The Picture in Picture feature allows users to keep watching a video or take a FaceTime call while switching to other applications, such as iMessage. Users can move the video around the screen too, or hide it but continue listening to the audio.
Incoming calls will no longer take over your screen
Apple is finally addressing a major headache for users: Incoming calls will no longer take over your screen on iOS devices, including iPhone and iPad. Instead, they will appear as a banner at the top of the screen.
Apple has put a big emphasis on privacy in recent years as a way to differentiate itself from other tech giants. In its latest move, Apple will give users the option to only share their approximate location with apps, rather than precisely where they are.
In the App Store, users will also be able to see a summary of privacy information from an app before downloading it. And apps will have privacy “nutrition labels” showing how much or how little data they collect, such as location, browsing history or contacts. Each developer will self-report their privacy practices.