Some thoughts about #iOS14

On June 22nd around 2am in the morning, I got to install the developer beta of iOS 14 and iPad OS 14.

Image source: the hacker 34 (YouTube)

Okay, I’m not going to talk about the new widgets or features Apple introduced on iOS 14. You might have already read it or seen a YouTube video about it.

I want to focus on the so called big changes Apple did to iOS 14 and I’m actually struggling to find breakthrough changes this time. I have been using my iOS14 developer beta for a week now with an average screen time of over 8 hours. So you know how much I have been playing around with the new OS.

My poor Eyes!

The excitement of new widgets lasted for about 2 days. Now my home screen has just one smart widget that has the basic essentials like weather and the Podcast app.

I want to talk about the widgets first.

I recently read an article from The Verge that Apple has finally complicated the home screen. I agree with that. That’s good and all. But the question is how are these helpful in terms of a normal user? What did iOS bring from scratch this time?

How long do you think Apple engineers took to develop the widgets? I mean these are people who work with complicated coding like the kernels etc. I’m going with a month tops. Maybe less. But after using them, I kept thinking what’s brilliant about them? How apps move away in Jiggle mode (whatever that means) when you try to place a widget? Really? That’s more important than the double tap feature (which I think if implemented properly can be the best new feature of iOS) which they talked about in the Keynote?

UI improvements are nice when they add functionality. Otherwise they are just ornaments that you may not need tomorrow.

These new widgets cannot perform anything within the widget which defeats the purpose of calling them widgets. No on/off switch or interactions within. They are basically information tiles that makes information more accessible. And somehow for the first beta, the clock widget that was demo’d is not available. That was the one I was looking for since I’m abroad and I would sometimes like to glance at the time of my home country without calculating it in my head.

You have the option to not show/suggest an app

The only one that stands out is the Siri App Suggestions widget. This widget is actually useful as it shows Siri suggestions right on the home screen as any other apps, but constantly switches to your frequently used apps.

The bottom 2 rows are Siri suggestions

All these were already on iOS 13 at some level. They are just separate widgets now. Also now since you can drag any widget to the home screen why not delete the widgets page altogether? Can it be used for something like a settings page when you swipe left? That would be a real UI change.

I understand the reason why so many people still use Apple is because anyone who’s been using the iPhone since day 1 and then went into a coma for 10 years can still wake up and use the 11 Pro without any learning curve.

But change is really subjective.

For me this is just a lazy UI revamp. Not talking about features here, just the UI part of it.

The new call UI

Let’s just say they could have done it in iOS7 if they wanted to. But then people would say they just copied Android. So lets wait till everyone forgets that was available a long time back.

Not complaining here. It’s good to have that. Just like the volume HUD. How long do you think that took to be implemented? How many lines of code?

There are a couple of small changes too like the contacts app looking much cleaner or long press the back menu option. Subtle.

Tiny changes

iOS 14 is the king of small changes made to look like a complicated makeover.

There are other things I noticed about the UI too. Applications like twitter are much faster under this WebKit. It’s lightweight on older devices too because this is essentially iOS13 with a few mods.

I also did some basic benchmarking which shows that iOS 14 is a bit slower than iOS13. That’s expected since this is a preview release. But not by a huge margin which means when the final version is out, it’ll surely be much faster.

The biggest changes

Apple took a huge stand on privacy this week. Apparently they just exposed over 70 major apps that were copying information from the clipboard (clipboard is the place where things you copied like text/password etc stays in memory until you paste them) and stealing them. Ah yes you’re right. TikTok is involved too. Over 50+ major apps steal your clipboard text. Now you wonder how your email got hacked? You can see the full list here https://www.engadget.com/53-more-apps-grabbing-ios-clipboard-data-175912135.html

Neat trick, Apple. You got em

iOS 14 has another trick too. A green dot appears on top of the signal bars when the camera is in use by any app and a yellow one if your microphone is being used. Last night while playing around with TikTok I noticed that while browsing causally, TikTok is secretly recording your conversations without user knowing it.

Why is the mic being used here? Voice controlled searching? Really?

You might think this is a huge embarrassment for them but you’d be surprised to know how many people using that platform knows the spelling of privacy. So lets just leave them to that.

There is also a big change which many failed to mention. The multi tasking is much faster now when you swipe an app up. Earlier it has a slow animation which slowed up the whole process of switching now it’s super fast and practical.

Faster

And oh the double tap feature I mentioned before, I have turned it off since it was giving me wrong inputs when placing the phone on a table for example. Hope they refine it better in the next update.

PIP

Picture in Picture. In 2020. I’m just going to leave it at this. It’s a feature. Not a new feature and you already know how it works and how you can’t get anything done when a video is playing above whatever you were doing.

The App Library

Craig said this was to improve your muscle memory and access apps faster. I thought it was pretty cool until I noticed that those folders kept changing their locations when a new app is installed and it defeats it’s own purpose.

My eyes. Again

Like I said. Apple could have called this update 13.7 instead of iOS 14. Of course there are under the hood changes which I haven’t mentioned here. I’m just talking about the things you see and touch of course. Not undermining the hours of work out into making an OS update.

Either Apple is running out of ideas to innovate with the UI or they are taking things one small step at a time. I love small features that were added to iOS 14. But calling it a whole new experience is a little underwhelming.

As usual thanks for reading.

I write mostly about technology