Apple is overhauling the iPhone homescreen and upgrading AirPods
Kaya Yurieff, CNN Business
(CNN) — Apple offered a glimpse into its new iPhone operating system, iOS 14, including updates to how you download apps and arrange them on your homescreens.
The company kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday by unveiling a new feature called App Library, which automatically organizes the apps on your homescreen so you don’t have to scroll through several pages.
Apple also unveiled a more seamless way to discover and access new apps. The feature, called App Clips, offers a small part of an app for use at the moment it’s needed, whether it’s for ordering a scooter on demand or food from a restaurant. These apps are small in size and integrate with Apple Pay. Users can then decide to download the full version of the app from the App Store.
The multi-day developer event is closely watched by consumers and developers alike for hints at what to expect from iPhones, iPads, Macs and the Apple Watch. This year, for the first time, the event is entirely virtual because of the pandemic.
The event featured some fancy camera work, zooming in from one executive to the next presenting from a range of locations including an empty auditorium at Apple’s sleek campus, a gym and a parking lot.
At the event, Apple introduced new updates to group chats on iMessage, including the option to pin the most important conversations and mention others in group chats, similar to Slack. Apple also teased a new option for users to unlock and start their cars with an iPhone. The feature, called CarKey, will initially only be available with the new 2021 BMW 5 series.
Incoming calls will no longer take over your screen on iOS devices, including iPad and iPhone. They will appear as a banner on top of the screen instead. And Apple’s avatars, called Memoji, are getting new hair styles, age options and face coverings, such as masks.
And it announced that AirPods, one of Apple’s recent breakout successes, will more seamlessly switch between devices and audio. For example, users can finish a podcast and then pick up their iPad to watch a movie. When a phone call comes in, the audio will automatically switch to the call. The Pro version will now have a new feature called “spatial audio” that aims to replicate a surround sound or movie theater experience.
On the hardware side, Apple is also rumored to be announcing a long-rumored switch to its own chips for its Mac computer lineup, a move that could lead to improved battery life and sleeker devices.
It’s also possible we could see a redesigned iMac, long-awaited over-the-ear headphones or an object tracker called “Tag.”