Apple has no problem taking its sweet time developing its take on popular software and hardware features. And, WWDC is usually when Apple takes the stage to let its competitors know it’s got its sights set on murder.
Apple always aims to kill a ton of features at WWDC, but this year’s conference saw perhaps one of the biggest, most ambitious murders of all. While there were plenty of rumors leading into WWDC 2020, Apple officially confirmed that it will be shifting away from Intel processors in Mac computers to its own custom-made silicon. All of Apple’s apps on Big Sur will support Apple’s new chips, as will other vital productivity apps from Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop.
RIP Intel. You had a good run.
A big update in iOS 14 is the addition of widgets and the App Library. You know, those things that Android has had for a long, long time now. You’ll be able to customize the look and size of widgets. For instance, if you want to put a big ‘ole weather widget next to your commuting apps on your homepage. Meanwhile, the App Library is meant to reduce clutter by organizing your apps into groups and lists. The App Library also lets you hide apps using a feature that is suspiciously reminiscent of the app drawer on Android phones. Rounding out Apple’s shameless killing spree? App Clips. Which, my very smart colleague and phone wizard Sam Rutherford tells me is just the same thing as Instant Apps on Android.
Be sure to check on your Android buddies. There’s a good chance they’re fighting off aneurysms given that they’ve had these features for a good long time now.
Google Translate has been the go-to translation app of choice for several years now, but in iOS 14, Siri will now be able to translate for you as well. This is clearly an attempt to simultaneously boost Siri while digging into Google Translate’s dominance.
This might also be one of Apple’s less successful murders. Siri is notoriously bad at understanding commands, and this sort of live translation absolutely depends on your phone being able to decipher accents and regular speech. Google’s invested a whole lot into natural language tech, whereas Apple... not so much if Siri is any indication.
You can now directly @ people in Messages. Plus, you can add inline comments and pin specific chats so that they stay at the top of your feed. Starring frequent chats? Pinning messages? Starting a thread? This sounds an awful lot like the features we’re all used to in chat apps, such as Slack and Discord. It’s not a direct one-to-one comparison, but it does blur the line between regular texting and more advanced communication software. Let’s see how long before third-party chat apps like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger follow suit.
The beef between Apple and Google over map apps is a tale as old as time. Last year, Apple introduced Streetview. This year, it looks like Maps is adding those little snippets of information about local landmarks, restaurants, and hangouts that are oh-so-handy for planning trips or finding out what’s good in your neighborhood.
Apple really wanted cyclists to know it’s time to delete Strava and every other cycling app you might have. Not only is Apple adding cycling routes to its Maps app, but you’ll also get cycling directions straight on your wrist. Supposedly, you’ll also be able to get tips on when to dismount. Not to mention, the native workout app on the Apple Watch already tracks cycling workouts.
For anyone who’s bought into the Apple ecosystem, this sure sounds like a tempting way to reduce some app clutter on your iPhone. Plus, Strava recently locked some of its best, previously free features behind a subscription plan.
iPad OS is getting a lil update when it comes to searching. Soon, you’ll be able to just start typing in the bar and bam! You’ll get suggestion for apps or web searches directly from the home screen. While you can use either Spotlight or Alfred on macOS, iPads haven’t had that functionality just yet. Yet another step Apple’s taking toward making the iPad a legitimate replacement for laptops.
Look, okay, Chrome and Firefox have both had built-in privacy and security features for ages now. Getting notifications that a site is tracking you, or that you’re using a password that’s already been leaked in a data breach is old. And it’s now on Safari. With Big Sur, Apple says you’ll also be able to see sites are tracking you via a privacy report. Apple claims Safari will also have speeds at least 50% faster than Chrome, which is notoriously RAM heavy if the never-ending pinwheeling on my own laptop is any indication. It would appear Apple is hoping to do a lil stabby stabby on its biggest browser competitors all while tooting its own privacy horn.
The promise of a stylus (or Apple Pencil) is that you’ll be able to recreate the ease of handwriting on a gadget. Nebo is probably the best known one for the iPad, but haha, time to roll over and die because Apple’s introduced Scribble.
Scribble lets you start writing in any text-field or note taking app with the Apple Pencil and then voilá. You have beautiful, digitized notes from your horrible chicken scratch. It’s also similar to Google Keep in that you can also draw shapes, diagrams, and even doodles.
Lol, you tried Google with your cute lil Wear OS hand-washing timer app. But Apple’s out here trying to make every other hand-washing timer look like it was made by kindergarteners. On top of automatically starting once it hears running water and/or soap noises, the thing will have an actual animated 20-second countdown timer. And no, not the dinky one Wear OS has. One that’s actually kinda pretty to look at. Plus, you’ll purportedly get reminders to wash your hands once you return home. Timely, given we’re in a pandemic, but also extremely extra.