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iOS 14 – now with home screen widgets

Apple last night previewed iOS 14, and showed off its ability to put widgets on the home screen.

Apple last night previewed iOS 14, introducing home screen pages with redesigned widgets and a new App Library, instant apps with App Clips, and updates to Messages.  

The new widgets present timely information at a glance and can be pinned in different sizes on a home screen page. Users can create a smart stack of widgets, which uses on-device intelligence to surface the right widget based on time, location, and activity.  

Home screen pages can display widgets that are customised for work, travel, sports, entertainment, and other areas of interest. At the end of the Home Screen pages is the App Library, a new space that automatically organises a user’s apps into one view, and intelligently surfaces apps that may be helpful in the moment. Users can choose how many Home Screen pages to display and hide pages for quicker access to the App Library.   

Incoming calls and Siri interactions take on a new compact design, which don’t take up the whole screen when one’s using them. (That’s right: you can carry on with the app you were busy with while you let the phone ring.)  

With Picture-in-Picture support, iPhone users can now watch a video or take a FaceTime call while using another app.  

“iOS 14 transforms the most iconic elements of the iPhone experience, starting with the biggest update we’ve ever made to the Home Screen,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering last night. “With beautifully redesigned widgets on the Home Screen, the App Library that automatically organizes all of your apps, and App Clips that are fast and easy to discover, iPhone becomes even more powerful and easier to use.”  

An App Clip is a small part of an app experience designed to be discovered as it is needed. App Clips are associated with a product or business, and load within seconds to complete a specific task, such as renting a scooter, purchasing a coffee, or filling a parking meter. They can be discovered and accessed by scanning a new Apple-designed App Clip code, or through NFC tags and QR codes, or shared in Messages. 

Messages received a huge update to usability. Users can pin conversations to the top of their messages list, keep up with group threads through mentions and inline replies, and further customise conversations by setting a group photo using an image or emoji. New Memoji options in Messages are more inclusive and diverse with additional hairstyles, headwear, and face coverings.   

iOS 14 also turns iPhones into car keys. Users can unlock and start a car using the NFC technology built into the iPhone. Digital car keys can be shared using Messages, or disabled through iCloud if a device is lost. Temporary keys can also be generated and sent on the fly, which is great for when you want someone else to drive, but only for a day. The first car collection to get this technology will be the 2021 BMW 5-series range. 

Every iPhone from the iPhone 6S and newer will get the update when it launches towards the end of this year. 

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