WWDC 2020: What's iOS 14's secret sauce?

iOS 14 is less about new features, and more about making existing features more usable, easier to discover, and eliminating clutter.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

The theme at this year's WWDC 2020 for iOS is a simple one -- fixing annoyances and streamlining the platform.

There's no doubt that iOS is a mature platform. It's been around for more than a decade, and over that time, a lot has changed. And that changing landscape has created new problems and annoyances.

For example, take apps. A handful of apps on an iPhone has given way to pages and pages of apps, and the more apps there are installed, the harder it becomes to keep find them and interact with them.

You know what it's like. You use the apps you have on the Home screen, and maybe the next page, but beyond that, things get vague.

Apple's solution to this is the App Library.

App Library

App Library

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App Library lives alongside existing pages and offers a new way to get to the apps you have installed.

Another new app-related feature is App Clips. 

App Clips

App Clips

These are small -- under 10MB -- streamlined apps that users can access without downloading them from the App Store. These can be activated in a number of ways, such as from NFC tags, cards in Apple Maps, or by scanning special QR-like visual codes.

Do these remind anyone of Android's Instant Apps?

Widgets also get a revamp, making them bigger and moving them to the Home screen.



Again, this will be familiar to Android users. In fact, in the on-screen demos, iOS 14 looked so much like Android not that I find it hard to believe that this isn't deliberate and that it isn't Apple making a play at getting more Android switchers over to the platform.

Apple has also made countless fixes and tweaks and improvements all across the board, such as fixing the biggest iOS annoyance ever, but it's interesting to note that there's no discernible tentpole feature or features. And I think that's a good thing.

After a decade of new features, stopping to focus on usability, making things easier to discover, and eliminating clutter is not a bad thing.

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