July 13, 2024

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WWDC 2020: Apple launches ARM-based Mac chips, iOS 14, iPadOS 14, MacOS Big Sur and more

Apple’s opening keynote for WWDC 2020, its annual Worldwide Developers Conference started with Tim Cook addressing the empty auditorium about Black Lives Matter and coronavirus before it launched into the announcement of iOS 14 and its home-screen redesign and new widgets. Thus far, we’ve heard about the new iPadOS 14, MacOS Big Sur, TV OS and WatchOS updates as well. Public betas will start next month, and as usual ship in the fall.

But the big news was Apple’s highly anticipated move to Arm-based chips away from Intel, intended to deliver better performance at lower power consumption than before, a (presumably) Metal-optimized graphics processor and other custom acceleration silicon. New systems will ship by the end of 2020 and the Apple silicon will rollout across the rest of the Mac line will run over the next two years. 

All of the Big Sur Apple apps are written to support the new custom Apple processors and Apple claims that support is just a simple recompile for developers (or at least within a couple days). Partners like Adobe and Microsoft will also be onboard with its apps at launch. And the comany claims the performance will be great. Rosetta 2 will automatically recompile older apps when you install them. Catalyst-compiled iOS and iPadOS apps and games will run natively starting day one.   

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More magic for AirPods! Smart switching the connection across devices comes to our rescue, and AirPods Pro gets spatial audio using a gyro and accelerometer to track your head movements. It supports multiple spatial standards.  Apps will provide more granular options for location tracking and give developers a way to show you more detail about what they’re capturing.

We also saw a preview of the new Apple TV Plus show, Foundation.

Better multiuser support in TV OS lets you pick up where you left off in a game, and it now supports Xbox Elite and Xbox Adaptive controllers.  Apple TV Plus has lots and lots of screens under its belt.

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iOS 14

 There are new capabilities for Siri, including a Google Translate-like app for live conversational translations. Messages, too, gets much-needed updates with the ability to pin messages, improvements in group conversations, and more looks for Memoji customizations.     

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Maps, too has new features, such as cycling navigation for more cities, EV routing to alleviate worries about running out of juice en route. CarPlay “rethinks car keys.” They’re now virtual and shareable! App Clips come to the App Store for quick access to new apps and to link to apps from Safari and more.

For smart home, the Home app provides adaptive lighting, the ability to define activity zones for cameras, plus face recognition notifications from your doorbell across all the devices.


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iPadOS 14

You’ll find the same redesigned widgets as iOS 14, but iPadOS improves Photos navigation with a sidebar; the sidebar design has also been integrated into several of Apple’s own apps, with tapping and dragging. Compact notifications for incoming calls and more won’t obscure your screen — that’s in iOS as well. Search has been redesigned to work from anywhere and to operate more like Spotlight on the desktop.


And finally, the new Scribble app provides handwriting recognition notetaking for use with Apple Pencil and the ability to cute and paste more intelligently, as well as the ability to write into text fields — very Windows 10-like. It can recognize different languages as well.

MacOS Big Sur

A complete redesign will greet you when you update, though you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a pretty subtle change.. The same Photos design from iPadOS comes to MacOS, as do many of the app updates that we’ll get in iOS and iPadOS. Control center in the menu bar, widgets and notification center is more sophisticated as well.


Mac Catalyst, the tool for porting iOS apps to MacOS fleshes out some of the capabilities to make it more native MacOS-like. Safari will be faster at loading frequently visited web sites and enhanced privacy features, including more granular controls over how long the privileges you’ve granted a site last.


WatchOS 7

Customize your face with multiple complications — customizing is easier, too — plus there are some new faces. You’ll be abloe to share faces, as well. Your body will also appreciate the new Dance app to jazz up your workout. At the other end of the spectrum, it adds sleep tracking. With the new OS, the Watch will be able to track your handwashing as well.

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