The biggest event of the year for Apple software may not have actually physically taken place this year, with thousands of software developers and tech nerds instead watching online due to the pandemic.

But the software updates to Apple’s ecoystem are more tangible than ever, with numerous changes set to impact how we travel, chat, listen to music and speak to our iPhones.

Here are the highlights of this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC):

1. Widgets on your iPhone home screen

With the new iOS 14 operating system, Apple will finally let iPhone users redesign their home screen with widgets.

Until now, all you saw as app icons, but iOS 14 will also allow you, for the first time since the iPhone’s market launch in 2007, to add widgets, just like in Android.

This means you can see things like news or weather updates without having to open an app.

It’s something Android users have know for years, but that has long been unavailable to anyone with an iPhone. Widgets are now coming in iOS 14. (Photo: Apple/dpa)

2. App Clips

Another iOS 14 innovation is App Clips, something that allows you to use an app’s functions without having to download it.

For example, you might quickly buy something at a coffee chain or get additional information in a shop using an app without have to formally install and delete the app.

Google tried something similar on Android a few years ago, but the idea did not catch on.

3. Your car keys on your iPhone

Your iPhone will also be able to be used as a car key, starting with the new BMW 5 Series.

This will be done using the iPhone’s NFC chip, the same piece of hardware that’s used for contactless payment.

You’ll also be able to share your car’s digital keys with friends and relatives via Apple’s chat service iMessage.

The CarKey function is also to be enabled for the current iOS 13.

Until now, Apple users have had to watch longingly as BMW, Tesla and Audi drivers unlock their cars with their Android phones. But that’s about to change with a new “CarKey” feature for an upcoming iOS release. (Photo: Catherine Waibel/dpa)

4. Siri gets smarter

With the new iOS, Apple is also catching up on Google’s digital assistant with new functions for Siri, which will be able to answer more general knowledge questions than before.

Your iPhone will also get a translation app, while Siri will also be able to launch apps via voice command.

5. Apple Maps gets friendlier for cyclists

Apple’s Maps, often lagging behind Google counterpart, is now getting dedicated navigation for cyclists, albeit only in a few cities to start.

Routes for electric cars can also be set. After the US, the improved navigation will arrive in Britain, Ireland and Canada, with other countries to follow later.

6. Automatic hand-washing timer for the Apple Watch

On the Apple Watch, there will be more options for watch faces and so-called complications showing specific app functions.

The watch will eventually also be able to measure the quality of your sleep.

In keeping with the pandemic, the watch will automatically detect that you’re washing your hands and display a countdown so that you don’t stop too early.

7. Airpods Pro get spatial sound

Airpods earphones will be able to automatically switch between a user’s Apple devices.

The more expensive AirPods Pro will also have the added spatial sound usually associated with surround sound systems, such as those found in cinemas.

Apple, like some other hi-fi specialists, is using software algorithms to create the 3D experience with just two headphone speakers.

8. Facial recognition for smart home

For fans of smart home devices, security cameras and camera doorbells compatible with Apple’s Homekit platform will be given a new facial recognition function.

This can also recognise familiar faces from your photos app.

This means that when a user is watching a film on an Apple TV box, the doorbell will display their picture in a corner of the TV.

9. Apple silicon instead of Intel chips

Apple says it’s ditching Intel processors in favour of its own chips developed in-house for future Mac computers.

This means that future Apple computers will run on the same hardware to iPhones and iPad tablets.

Apple says it’s ditching Intel processors in favour of its own chips developed in-house for future Mac computers. This means that future Apple computers will run on the similar hardware to iPhones and iPad tablets. (Photo: Franziska Gabbert/dpa)

10. Face mask emojis

Apple also announced a number of updates to how people communicate using iPhones, starting with the addition of protective face coverings as an option on Memojis.

Apple also said the next version of its iOS operating system would allow users to pin certain conversations to the top of their messages list, something already familiar to users of WhatsApp and Telegram.

Apple is bringing face coverings to its Memojis in response to the global coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: Apple/dpa)

What’s Neue With You

Which of the features above are you most looking forward to?

Check out the video below for a Day 1 recap of the 2020 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference:

And while you’re here, do check out some of Neue’s past articles below:

Click on the photo to check out “8 Tech Predictions That Actually Came True”

Click on the photo to find out why Neue’s friend, ‘The Cynical Consumer’ dropped the iPhone