Apple iOS 14: release date, features and compatible phones

Apple's WWDC 2020 keynote revealed all the details on the new iOS 14 updates coming to your iPhone

iOS 14
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's WWDC 2020 keynote saw the tech giant delve into iOS 14, the next version of the iPhone operating system – while also announcing new ARM-based Macs and watchOS 7.

We don't have a date for the launch yet, but we expect it to roll out in September, as usual, so if you want to see what's coming in motion, you can watch the WWDC 2020 keynote here – or read on for more info.

iOS 14: Release date

Historically, after Apple has announced its new OS, it's followed by a developer beta, and then a public beta a couple of months later, with the official release usually falling at the end of September. 

The beta version is already available for those with a developer account. We'd expect the final version to come out after the launch of the next iPhone, which would normally be announced in mid-September, though we'll have to see if 2020's massive disruptions have changed that.

iOS 14: Compatible phones 

What phones will iOS 14 work with? The new iOS works with loads of older Apple devices, from the iPhone 6s and original iPhone SE onward, as well as the 7th gen iPod touch. The full list is: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE (1st generation), iPhone SE (2nd generation), iPod touch (7th generation).

iOS 14: Home screen updates

iOS 14

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The home screen in iOS 14 is getting two overhauls. The first is App Library, which filters your apps using various categories. App Library automatically organises them for you using categories like 'suggestions' and 'recently downloaded' – it should help to surface apps that are buried somewhere on your Home screens.

App Library is located at the end of your home screen, and for easy access, you can zoom out in jiggle Mode, and tap to hide pages. 

iOS 14

(Image credit: Apple)

Widgets are also coming to the home screen, and are available in different sizes letting you really customise your home screen. Users can drag and drop them, and add as many as they like.

Smart Stack is an great new feature that lets you access your widgets within a single icon. You can swipe through widgets using it, while never having to leave your home screen. It even does this automatically, displaying news in the morning, the the calendar during the day, and fitness activity when you get home, for example. 

Lastly, Picture in Picture support lets you play video content over your home screen and other apps. The video is minimised and can be dragged around the screen, pinched to zoom, and even minimised while keeping the audio playing.

iOS 14: New Apps 

iOS 14

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CarKey

Discovered in the beta version of iOS 13.4 for developers, this app will allow users to unlock their car with their iPhone – as long as it has NFC capabilities. Otherwise you can try your luck at jamming your phone into the lock, but you won't get very far. The BMW 2021 5 Series – rolling out next month – is the first partner for this feature. Users tap to unlock the car, pop the phone on the charging pad in the car, and simply push to start.

What's even more handy is the sharing feature that will lets users allow access to friends and family – essentially giving them a digital key to their car. Each time you share your key, you can set restrictions or allow full access, so if you have a teen driver that you've entrusted your brand new Beemer to for some reason, you can put some limitations in place.

From a security point of view, you can choose to remotely turn off your CarKey in iCloud.

(Image credit: Apple )

App Clips

One of the most convenient updates, App Clips circumvents the need to download apps that you don't have, but may suddenly find yourself in need of. You don't need to register payment details or create a log in, because it uses Apple Pay and Sign in with Apple. 

The full app won't be downloaded, meaning you won't have to clutter up your home screen with one-off apps you won't be using again for ages. If you want to download them once you're done, you can do so in the App Library.

App Clips can be accessed via the web, messages, or Maps, and utilises both NFC and QR codes, so you can tap your iPhone or use the camera to scan the special icon that indicates App Clip compatibility. 

In practical terms, you could be at a parking meter and use App Clips to pay with a simple tap, rather than finding rifling through the App Store, downloading the app, registering, setting up payment, and then finally being able to use it.

Translate

Translate is a new app that can translate live spoken language. It also works offline thanks to the iPhone's built-in neural engine, and works with both text and voice. At the outset, it will support 11 languages, with more to follow.

iOS 14: Updates to existing Apps

iOS 14

(Image credit: Apple)

Messages

Apple is introducing a mention system similar to the one WhatsApp and Slack use, allowing users to tag specific contacts in groups. An obvious benefit of this is that the group chat can be muted but users can still receive notifications if they're tagged directly, so they don't miss out on any important messages. 

For even more convenience, you can pin conversations, which look even sharper thanks to animated pins. The pin will also display the icon of the most recent person to send a message in group chat.

New tweaks to Memojis are also on the way, with 20 new headwear styles – including face coverings. More age options are on the way, as well as three new Memoji stickers including fist bumps, hugs, and blushing.

Group chat is also offering the ability to change group icons – another feature we've seen in WhatsApp, so users of the app will already be familiar with some of these new features.

Maps

Apple is helping its users be more environmentally friendly by offering directions and additional information for cyclists including elevation information for routes, and letting you know how busy they are. EV drivers are also being catered to, displaying charging points along routes.

There are also news systems for recommendations, and a load of other smaller quality-of-life improvements.

Siri

The digital assistant is getting a makeover, with a new, subtle design that pops up over the top of the content you're viewing on your phone, rather than taking over the whole thing. New features include the ability to record and send audio messages using Siri, rather than going into iMessage to do so. And when you ask for knowledge, results can also pop up in a smaller window, so you can read info quickly and then get back to your app.

New default apps

Don't like the built-in Mail app or Safari? No worries – you can now finally set a different browser or Mail app as your default, so those are where you'll automatically go when you tap a link or a 'New message' button.