Starting early this afternoon, Apple will be releasing major updates for their iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch products. As with all Apple releases, we will support these products starting today. However, we often counsel our clients that while the shiny new features are new and unique and enjoyable, updating on the first day of release can come with challenges. We’d recommend waiting a few days, possibly a week or two, to make sure that your apps are all ready for iOS 14.
You might be asking: what’s in these updates? I’m so glad you asked.
iOS 14 – New Home Screen Options, Translation, Better Maps, Richer Messages
iOS 14 introduces a number of new features, including Apple’s first rethink of the home screen since the iPhone was released. You can now add widgets to your home screen that can display useful information, like your calendar appointments for the day, the weather forecast, your music, a map to your next appointment, and more. Widgets are blocks that appear on your home screen. They take up a 2 x 2 grid of icons, or a 2 x 4 grid of icons. There’s also a smart widget that uses Siri on-device intelligence to show you the right widget for the right moment. So far, that one is my favorite.
When international travel — or even just visiting international neighborhoods! — becomes a thing again, there’s a new translation engine for your iPhone that allows you to do immediate typed translation of a phrase. Need to ask where the bathroom is? You can type that out and then show your new friend who is trying to help you get where you need to go the phrase in native characters, or you can have it directly play the audio.
In addition, Apple has been hard at work adding new features to Apple Maps and iMessage. You can now pin favorite iMessage conversations to the top of your screen so that you won’t lose them. In addition, there are a bunch of new threaded message features, richer app integrations, and more. Apple Maps is adding EV Charging waypoints to your directions, to make sure that you never run out of range on your car, and also they’re adding bicycle directions to three major cities, with more to come. That last one, I’m really excited for when it finally hits DC. My wife Tiffany has become an avid cyclist during the Covid times, and if you want to read about her adventures with her cargo bike, it’s a good read, for parents especially.
Of course, there’s more, but those are the ones I’m most excited about. iOS 14 works on every iPhone since the iPhone 6s, as well as the iPod touch, 7th generation.
iPadOS 14 – All that iOS 14 offers, plus better UI, more places and ways to use Apple Pencil, and richer Notes
iPadOS 14 has all the new features that iOS 14 has, plus it has a whole bunch of really good refinements to the iPad platform as a whole to make it a better experience for everyone.
I absolutely love the new Scribble feature for Apple Pencil with your iPad. Any place that you’d normally tap and type out text, you can tap with the pencil and just start writing. It will convert the handwriting to text on the fly. For those that remember the Newton and eMate, the handwriting recognition is generations better, and I found that it works about 99% of the time. In addition, you can scratch out words and sentences to remove them, or circle text to highlight it!
For the times you’re writing in the Notes app, your iPad will be doing on-device transcription of your handwriting behind the scenes so you can search for what you’ve handwritten out, as well as the ability to copy handwriting and paste it as text, in the note you’re working in, or in any app throughout iPadOS. Writing down a date? Apple’s data detectors features allows you to tap on that date and see your calendar, or tap on an address and see the map, or tap on a phone number and make a call, all without having to do anything special or extra!
iPadOS 14 works on all iPads back to the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 4. All iPads Pro, and the 3rd and 4th generation of iPad Air are all supported.
WatchOS 7 – Family Watches, New Faces, Better Widgets
For those who have Apple Watches, WatchOS 7 offers several cool new features that you can use. The biggest was just announced yesterday – and that’s Family Setup. If you have someone in your life who would benefit from an Apple Watch – a child, an older relative – that doesn’t have their own iPhone, you can now help them to setup their own watch. It requires a cellular watch model, but then it will set them up as their own user, fully distinct from your Apple ID, and can give you peace of mind including location tracking, fall detection, and more. They can even call you or other family members direct from the Apple Watch.
In addition, Apple has released a series of new Watch faces that will allow you to customize your Apple Watch more to your liking. Developers can now build groups of complications and surface them directly on your Apple Watch so that you can be more productive with only just your Apple Watch.
Apple has also added sleep tracking to Apple Watch so that you can know how well you’re sleeping! You can set a bedtime and wake time, set sleep goals, and get a good idea of how well you’re resting. This has been super important to me during my recovery, as apparently burning the candle at both ends and in the middle is bad for you. Who knew. I find that the Sleep app’s new Wind Down feature is really helpful for me to transition away from using my devices.
WatchOS 7 works on Apple Watch Series 3, 4, 5, 6 and SE devices.