Apple WWDC 2020 - understanding the upcoming improvements to the latest OS - Part 1


Introduction

At the WWDC Apple launched many improvements to many of their operating system versions and many new features as well which makes Apples operating system exciting to use. This article aims to dig deeper into how these features translate into productivity or usefulness for the Indians at large.


We will understand how these features are going to be to use in daily life for many people in the Indian subcontinent. So what are we waiting for? let’s just dig right in.



iOS 14 updates


App Library

The app library is a welcome addition to what we already thought as a cumbersome operation of having to arrange apps the way we want. However I have a grouse about this, there are automatically arranged categories and sometimes that may not be what the user really expects.


My opinion is that the app library may probably have few useful blocks, but there could also be blocks that are not exactly those choices the user wanted.

In India we have different ways of organising apps. While some people have too many apps, and they have so many categories which themselves go into pages and pages, others just have hundreds of apps lying on different screens. All said and done no one goes beyond page 1 of the screens.


Widgets

This was never properly implemented in iOS since a long time due to which Apple may have lost business by users on Android buying many phones which offered these since a long time. However that is about to change now with apple offering widgets on the latest iOS. These widgets are beautiful and knowing apple they come in different shapes and sizes with different amounts of info with the unique feature that upon moving the widgets around app icons, the icons arrange themselves without asking you to show how the widget fits on the screen. This is a welcome move and now iPhone users will finally feel on par and in some cases even better than android users.


Smart widget stacks automatically move depending on time of the day to show you what you want and you can see all different types of the same widgets even before placing them on the screen. This clearly shows that Apple has understood the pain points about these widgets on Android before launching them here and has fixed all those potential problems.


Picture in Picture

The picture in picture is another Android feature that was available on Samsung and other phones since a long while. So its the same thing here the only quirk being that if you minimize the video, audio still keeps playing. Other than that its pretty much normal fare and is coming to iPhone a few years late.


Siri

Siri has been redesigned in iOS 14 to be more smarter and answer more complex questions. Other than that the results of questions you pose Siri are shown as notifications overlaid on the current app you are using if the information suits such a panel (like for eg., weather) which means you are less likely to be visually disturbed.



Other than that Siri button is now much more minimal and shows up in a really small area of the screen unlike the wavy UI we have known Siri for.


Audio messages and dictation are more integrated with Siri now. Nothing that was not there before, but hopefully more accurate.


Translate app


Siri would have been able to translate few sentences here and there anyways in due course, but what fun is it to just use it for that. What we would like to have is two panes with one showing the language I know, and the other showing the language I want to know, and both using audio inputs to help translate from one language to another side by side. So this is a good move to make it a separate app called Translate which would be very useful in due course.


Just that be aware for Indian languages the updates may take a year or year and half to be rolled out with mostly basic support for Hindi, and a few other languages. This is not easy so that is how it is going to be. There will be delays in rolling this out fully in all countries. With India the challenge is 26+ different languages and hence its also an opportunity for people to contribute to this app if need be. The specifics are yet to be rolled out in due course.


Only 11 languages are now supported and more are yet to come. This app works completely offline as well and securely so that your data is with you.


Landscape conversation mode is wow as usual !


Messages

In short, conversations are going to be supported now under messages. Also many more memojis as this seems to be gaining popularity. In line replies to messages were much needed and going by the demo it seems well implemented. The only thing you could do earlier was to show icons, but now real actual messages can be collapsed and expanded as replies to a message in the conversation.


Pinning conversations above, messages showing up on avatars and @ addressing someone so that you can subscribe to only those messages sent to you as notifications are some improvements to this feature. However this is where I have the biggest grouse with Apple yet in 2020. In India we know that 7/10 messages we get are spam. Mobile numbers are sold and within no time of acquiring a number you are beginning to get spammed already.


The junk section of the SMS messages was not implemented properly and it remains so in iOS 14. This is a big disappointment. With apps like true caller or advanced algorithmsappstools that could have helped to kill these promo messages by filtering has been given a miss (whether or not it is country specific). This could have been difficult to implement or too country specific - not sure - but its a disappointing miss nonetheless.


So dear fellow Indians, let us continue to not use SMS app on iOS. Bad. Or you can still look at that important salary credit information along with that SMS which provides you confidential massage or friendship services in utmost fairness in an area nearby where you live.


Apple maps

Every WWDC there will always be a talk about maps being redesigned ground up. I am not sure why maps has to be redesigned ground up. For me ground up means throwing out the old code and restarting from scratch, so unless you are doing that Apple I think usage of word ground up is not so correct in my opinion.


That said, Google maps now shows you which lane you are on when you are going by a flyover, whether under or over it. A guy from fast company shares an opinion that apple maps is way better than rival google. Well please come to India and start using Apple maps and I will bet you that if you do not ditch apple maps in half an hour, I will be surprised.


Let me be a blunt here, finding great places is not what we do on everyday basis with maps. We use maps to get from point A to point B in India, in the least amount of time. All we want to know in Bangalore is whether we will spend 3 days at silk board, or 1 week before we get a move on. Having said this, all we wish to know is how long it will take to get from A to B. 70% of Indians dont use maps or have smartphones. 90% of the remaining 30% use maps for the reasons I stated and the remaining 10% of the 30% maybe using it to find “great places” using guides.


Now coming to some good things about maps, there are cycling routes introduced. But in India you cycle over the same flyover someone drives through. So big deal again! For us we have only one set of clogged roads whether you are on cycle or bus, or auto, or car, or a bullock cart. And for us if a cycle can go somewhere so can an auto or a two wheeler, we will somehow squeeze through. And we only lift our cycles while crossing the road or giving it to service.


As for EV routing, hopefully we would need that feature in 2030. As for notifying which areas are congestion zones don’t bother. Just show a huge big circle around Bangalore. That is all. The whole city is a congestion zone for us anyways.


Car Play

Ok so you have great improvements on Car Play which includes - wait a minute - new wallpaper options? Really? Wow!


And you want to digitally open the car. That is great. So how do I use it? Wait what? I need to purchase the next year’s BMW for that feature? Hmmm .....

When launching features like this how about using SMS, bluetooth and some existing tech to make every car digitally lockable and unlockable? That would have been real innovation. Well I am hoping some accessory guy will come up with that shortly.


And sure yes you are making this tech available with iPhones and new cars only, but why not old cars? With a mod maybe?


App Store

App clips are small part of apps, and launches to just let you pay or do some important things only instead of needing full apps. That now is a good move apple.


iPAD OS

So basically Apple have launched something called sidebar which in effect is windows explorer’s clone on ipad. Calls on iPAD now have compact notifications instead of full screen one, again something Android has finished eating for breakfast lunch and dinner long long back. What took you so long? And on top of that you say customers will love it? No doubt, they were already getting frustrated and were about to switch to Android for something as basic as this. Good for you, you held them back.



The universal search is a good addition and was always there on other devices such as TV from sometime. I am not sure such a thing is there for Android yet and so deeply integrated, so correct me if I am wrong there. Good for Apple with this feature.


Apple Pencil

Here is where Apple has innovated this year and it shows. Using Scribble feature you can directly enter a URL into a browser address bar for example. But for longer URLs that is going to be a pain. I do not see many people using pencil to do that. However it is about continuity where a person doing free form writing actually also can input text without putting the pencil down.


It is the intent Apple had that has to be lauded. Of course a larger scale reading written text and able to paste that as analysed text into some other context is where Apple seems to have beaten Samsung at least with this release of the operating system.


Using scribble on any text field is a welcome move. Pretty cool ! Allowing me to draw figures and making them accurate, interpreting phone numbers and directions from what I write are just the most natural way of seamlessly adding richness to content. I hope you have patented that Apple!


Airpods

Airpods now switch to the nearest device you are using. Without asking you. That is pretty seamless and a much wanted feature. And this time around Apple has worked on the spatial audio algorithms to give you the best sound experience with Air Pods. Tracking your head as your head moves to alter the sound distribution is way too tech savvy for sure.


The only thing left for apple is to read your brain waves and interpret what you are thinking about that secret date you are planning for and sending reminders about it which others in your family can see :-)


Read about the rest of the WWDC updates in the Part-2 of this article.



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