Apple is already working on the next update to the iOS and iPadOS operating systems that run on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch at its headquarters in Cupertino, California.

We still have months to go until iOS 14 is released, but an early test version of the software has leaked, giving us some idea of what to expect from the update. There are still hidden features and functions that we don’t know about, as iOS updates often include hundreds of tweaks and new features, but a few key features have been unveiled.

Apple is said to be focusing on performance and quality in iOS 14 due to the numerous bugs in iOS 13, but there are still plenty of new features in the works.

Apple is, however, using a new development process that overhauls how testing is done. Test software will have toggles to disable buggy features by default, allowing Apple’s internal testers to selectively enable or disable features that are being worked on to better focus on what needs refining.

The end result is that some of the features that are seen during testing periods (and in leaked software) may not make it into the final version of iOS 14 and could be delayed, which is worth keeping in mind when reading iOS 14 rumors.

Below, we’ve outlined everything we know about iOS 14, and as we learn more about what’s in the software, we’ll be updating this roundup regularly with more rumors and details about what to expect.

Home Screen

On the Apple Watch, Apple allows all of the installed apps to be viewed in a list, and a similar feature could come to the iPhone in iOS 14.

The list will allow users to see all of the apps installed on the iPhone, presumably organized alphabetically. Users will allegedly be able to set viewing filters to see app categories like recently used apps or apps with unread notifications.

iOS 14 could also offer Home screen widget options, which would allow for widgets that can be moved around freely like app icons on the Home Screen. There’s little detail available on this feature at the current time, but code in iOS 14 suggests it is distinct from the widget options available in the Today section of the notification center when swiping right.

New Apps and App Tweaks

Fitness App

Apple is working on a fitness app for iPhone, Apple Watch, and Apple TV that will let users download fitness-related videos that will walk them through various workouts.

The Apple Watch will be used to track progress through workout routines, which will be displayed on iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. There will be a variety of different workout types including indoor running, cycling, rowing, stretching, core training, strength training, outdoor walking, dance, and yoga.

New Features for Messages

Apple is testing a range of new features for iMessage, and the new functionality could be included in the iOS 14 update.

There’s a new Slack-like mention system that will allow users to tag contacts with their name like @eric. In a busy group chat, this feature will make it possible to mute the conversation but receive push notifications when direct mentions are included.

A mockup of @mentions in Messages in iOS 14
Apple is also working on a feature that would retract iMessages after sending them, with the retraction visible to both parties.

A mockup of iMessage retracting in iOS 14
Typing indicators in group chats could be included, so you can see who is typing in a multi-person chat, and Apple may add support for the /me command, which is currently limited to the Mac.

A mockup of group typing indicators in Messages in iOS 14
We could also see a new feature for marking messages as unread, which would allow them to retain the unread icon to make them more notable so a task or request isn’t forgotten.

A mockup of Mark as Unread in Messages in iOS 14
There has been previous evidence that Apple is working on a Catalyst-based version of the Messages app for Mac, and if that’s the case, some of these features could also make it to the Mac.

Activity App

watchOS 7 will bring a Kids Mode to the Apple Watch, and iOS 14 will have a tweaked Activity app to accommodate the new mode. Rather than tracking active calories burned, the Activity app for Kids Mode will track movement time instead, a healthier metric for children.

New Augmented Reality App

Apple appears to be planning to introduce a new augmented reality app in iOS 14, which is codenamed Gobi. The app is said to allow users to “get more information about the world around them” through AR.

The app may feature integrations with Apple Stores and Starbucks, which suggests users could do something like hold up an iPhone in an Apple Store to view information about products. AR experiences would be triggered via QR code tags in the area, and there is a possibility that iBeacons or Apple’s upcoming AirTags could work as triggers.

Setting Third-Party Apps as Default

Starting in iOS 14, Apple may allow iPhone and iPad users to set third-party mail, browser, and music apps as their default instead of Apple’s own apps.

The change would allow apps like Google Chrome and Gmail to be set as the default apps on iOS devices, so tapping a link or an email address will not open Apple’s own apps. The change would also allow music apps used with the HomePod to work with Siri, something that’s limited to Apple Music at the current time.

Apple is considering making this move following criticism that its own apps have an unfair advantage over third-party apps given that they’re installed by default, can’t be replaced, and are often more prominent in the App Store. It’s worth noting that Apple is still in the planning stages with these changes and they might not be implemented.

Sleep Tracking – Health App

The sleep tracking feature rumored for the next-generation Apple Watch will integrate with the Health app on iPhone, where users will be able to set a personalized sleep goal. The Health app will also offer up recommendations for improving sleep.

Shot on iPhone Photos App Integration

Apple may be planning to integrate Shot on iPhone photo challenges into the Photos app, allowing all iPhone owners to submit their photo results and see the challenge results in the app.

Apple regularly puts out calls for Shot on iPhone images, hosting contests that provide cash rewards to the winners.

Find My

Find My in iOS 14 will gain a new notification feature that will provide alerts when someone doesn’t arrive at a specific location at a scheduled time of day, so a parent can do something like set up an alert for when a child arrives at school at a certain time.

If the child doesn’t make it to school by the deadline, an alert would be sent.

CarPlay

CarPlay in iOS 14 could support custom wallpapers, displaying the wallpaper on the CarPlay interface. The wallpapers would also switch between light and dark mode based on the time of day.

CarKey

Hints of a new “CarKey” API were found in iOS 13.4, which would allow the ‌iPhone‌ to be used to lock, unlock, and start a car that has NFC capabilities. Sharing features will also be available for assigning keys to friends and family members through the Messages app.

CarKey, which could be coming as an iOS 14 feature, will allow iPhone owners to use their devices in lieu of a physical car key. BMW could possibly be one of the first partners based on code and images found in iOS 14.

Apple Maps

Apple Maps may provide additional information for select businesses in iOS 14, such as specific Genius bar services offered by an Apple Store, movie theaters with IMAX showtimes, and locations with discounts for children.

iCloud Keychain

In iOS 14, iCloud Keychain will include warnings whenever a password is reused, which should help encourage users to select different passwords for each login.

Apple also appears to be adding a way to save two-factor authentication passwords, which would presumably allow ‌iCloud‌ Keychain to generate two-factor authentication codes to prevent the need for a two-factor authentication app.

Clips

Apple is working on a new feature that will let third-party users interact with select content and experiences in third-party apps without needing to have those apps installed through a feature Apple has codenamed “Clips.”

“Clips” are designed to allow users to scan a QR code linked to an app and then interact with content from that app through a floating card on the screen. The card would offer up options to download the full version of the app from the App Store or open content in app if it’s already installed.

Android has a similar feature called “Slices” that are UI templates able to display rich, interactive content from an app within Google Search and other places like the Google Assistant.

Apple is said to be testing the Clips feature with OpenTable, Yelp, DoorDash, YouTube, and the PS4 Second Screen app from Sony.

Apple Pencil Updates

iOS 14 could include a new PencilKit feature that will allow users to handwrite text in any text input field using Apple Pencil, with the handwritten content then converted into standard text before it’s sent.

So, as an example, you might be able to tap into a Messages text field with the Apple Pencil, hand write a message to someone, have it converted to a more easily readable typewritten text, and then send it.

The new PencilKit feature appears to work with any text input field in iOS, making it compatible with Messages, Notes, Reminders, Mail, and more.

New HomeKit Features

Several new HomeKit features are in the works, and these could be introduced in the iOS 14 update.

Night Shift for Lights

One feature, Night Shift for lights, would allow HomeKit to adjust the color temperature of HomeKit-connected lights based on the time of day. Early in the day, the lights would be set with a more blue lighting to match the outdoor light from the sun, but at night, the lights would shift to a warmer tone.

It essentially sounds a light-based version of the Night Shift feature available for Macs and iOS devices that cuts down on blue light exposure.

Facial Recognition for Cameras

A new HomeKit Secure Video feature adds people identification, which will perhaps allow security cameras to detect specific people, distinguishing people in the family from strangers. HomeKit Secure Video already supports object recognition for things like people, animals, and vehicles.

Other Notable Features

Custom Voice Synthesizers

Apple appears to be exploring ways to let developers provide custom voice synthesizers on iOS through a new framework called VoiceProvider.

Voice synthesizer extensions would be bundled with apps from the App Store and then could be used to replace the default speech voice, a feature that has the potential to be important for languages and dialects that Apple does not support.

Third-Party Wallpaper Packs

Apple may be planning to introduce support for third-party wallpaper packs in iOS 14, which would allow developers to create wallpaper options for the iPhone that would be able to be installed through the Wallpaper section of the Settings app.

Wallpaper settings in iOS 14
Apple is said to be implementing wallpaper categories that will allow users to better sort through the available wallpaper options.

Accessibility Updates

iOS 14 could include Accessibility updates, such as a feature that will detect sounds like fire alarms, door knocks, doorbells, and more for people who have hearing problems.

There may also be a feature that will allow the camera to detect hand gestures, and Apple could introduce Audio Accommodations that improve the audio tuning of AirPods or EarPods for people who have mild to moderate hearing loss.

Device Compatibility

One rumor suggests that iOS 14 will be compatible with all of the same iPhones as iOS 13, including older devices like the iPhone SE and iPhone 6s. It’s not clear if this rumor is accurate, and the site who shared the list says that the list is “not final” and could change. iOS 13 compatible devices are listed below.

  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPod touch (7th generation)

When it comes to the iPad, the iPadOS 14 update is expected to be compatible with all iPads able to run iOS 13 with the exception of the iPad mini 4 (released in September 2015) and the iPad Air 2 (released in October 2014. That means the following iPads will be able to run iPadOS 14, if the rumor is correct:

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro
  • 11-inch iPad Pro
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)

Discuss iOS 14

Our forum members are already discussing the features they hope to see in iOS 14, so if you have something you think Apple might add, feel free to join in on the discussion.

iOS 14 Release Date

iOS 14 will be previewed at the 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference, which is likely to take place at some point in June. Exact dates for the event will be shared early in the year, possibly in March, though it is not clear if there will be a physical event due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

Following the unveiling of iOS 14, the software will be provided to developers for testing purposes, followed by Apple’s public beta testing group. When beta testing has finished in the fall, iOS 14 will see a public release alongside new iPhones, provided Apple sticks to its traditional release schedule.


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