Apple WWDC 2020 is happening right now, and the Cupertino company just previewed some new features coming to iOS 14. One of the most significant new additions is picture-in-picture support, along with widget support on the home screen. On top of that, Siri will be a lot less intrusive in the new version of iOS as well.
Let’s start with the new PiP mode. Naturally, it’s a system-wide implementation, and it works a lot like how it is on Android. If you swipe up to the home screen while you’re watching a video, it will continue to play in PiP mode. You can then open other apps while watching the video.
It sounds pretty simple, but what makes PiP mode on iOS 14 particularly interesting is the ability to adjust the size of the video on the fly. You can simply pinch to zoom to change the size of the video, which is something that’s not possible on Android smartphones. If the video’s getting in the way, but you don’t want to close it, you can even hide it to the side of the screen; quite a neat touch.
Okay, so that’s PiP. Apple also previewed the new widget support for iOS 14. As its name suggests, you can now add widgets to the home screen…just like on an Android smartphone. Of course, Apple is adding a couple of nifty tricks to differentiate its widget implementation from Google’s design philosophy.
For one, widgets on iOS 14 come in various sizes, and there’s even a “Smart Stack” widget that will automatically show you relevant apps based on the time of day. It can show you the news in the morning, your calendar as the day progresses, and so on. It’ll be interesting to see just how intelligent and useful Smart Stack would be in real life use.
Speaking of intelligent, Apple is also introducing App Clips with iOS 14. In a way, it’s a smarter take on Android’s instant apps. Basically, App Clips are small, card-based snippet of apps that give users access to certain features of said apps without the need to install the full version. It can be used to access parking apps, or even a store’s reward program.
App Clips use Apple Pay and your Apple login credentials, so there’s no need to fumble with creating new accounts and what not. That being said, given that Apple Pay isn’t available here in Malaysia, we may not be able to take advantage of App Clips.
Last but certainly not least is Siri, which gets a UI update on iOS 14. Previously, summoning Siri would take up the whole screen, but in iOS 14, the digital assistant will only appear as a small overlay on the bottom of the display. To make it even more seamless, certain search results from Siri will only appear as a notification at the top of the screen. This makes Siri a lot less intrusive.
iOS 14 will be rolled out sometime in fall 2020 to the iPhone 6s and later, while the beta version will be available to developers starting today. These new features coming to iOS 14 are not exactly groundbreaking, but they will certainly improve the user experience of iPhones that support the new update.