While plenty of things were announced at WWDC 2020, the lion’s share of upgrades were dedicated to iOS 14, but deeper dives have revealed even more features that weren’t introduced on Apple’s digital stage.
While we’re expecting iOS 14 to come out alongside the iPhone 12, many (if not all) of the features hinted below should be usable on every other iPhone getting the update (every phone newer than the iPhone 6S). Which is exciting, as these are helpful and unexpected improvements.
Double-tapping the phone back
For example, there’s a feature that will let you double-tap or triple-tap the back cover of your iPhone as a shortcut – think of the custom buttons on some Android phones that you can remap to your own custom function, as Droid Life describes it. Actually, this feature was supposedly discovered during an earlier Android 11 developer preview, though it hasn’t made it to that OS’ public beta. Looks like Apple beat it to the punch.
Sound Recognition: accessibility-related alerts
Another unexpected feature is actually pretty neat: in Settings > Accessibility, there’s now a section called Sound Recognition wherein you can choose which sounds you want your iPhone to notify you about – like fire alarms, smoke sirens, doorbells, and so on. And following Apple’s precedent for privacy, all the listening and audio processing is done on-device, as 9to5Mac points out.
Extensive back button
It's also worth calling attention to the fact that you’ll be able to long-press the back button to return through multiple layers of menus at once. It’s not game-changing, but it should ease those deep dives into Settings submenus.
- iPadOS 14: all the new features revealed at WWDC 2020
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- macOS 11 Big Sur: the next big free update to the macOS ecosystem
Other new features discovered after WWDC 2020 are actually extra perks on top of the ones we saw during the presentation, but that doesn’t make them less exciting.
For instance, Widgets made a big splash when Apple introduced them – expansive mini-looks at first-party apps, like Weather and Fitness. But despite taking up chunks of your home screen, they won’t clog it up: apparently they’ll have ‘Smart Stack,’ which intelligently stacks multiple widgets atop one another depending on certain factors like time of day, according to 9to5Mac – or you can customize what’s in your stack and swipe through them.
Maps tracks traffic cameras
Likewise, the improvements to Maps will certainly please eco-friendly commuters, as the app is expanding its navigation options to include cycling as well as plan trips between electric vehicle stations. But another neat perk: Maps will tip off users to up coming speed and/or traffic cameras, per Apple Insider. It’s unclear if this will let users add their own reports or add other road conditions, which would make Maps more seriously compete against the Waze app.
Change the default from Mail and Safari
Lastly – at least until more surprise iOS 14 features are discovered – you can now set third-party browsers and email apps as your defaults, per CNET. Which is a welcome breath for those of us who aren’t huge fans of Mail and Safari.
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David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.