Apple will release iOS 14 later this year. That much we know. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of other concrete information out there about Apple’s upcoming mobile operating system update.Of course, there are still plenty of rumors, wishlists and educated guesses around the internet.
We’ve collected some of the best and most current information about Apple’s iOS 14 update, so you can know what to expect and when to expect it.
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iOS 14: The bug-squashing update
One of the biggest — and arguably most welcome — addition to iOS 14 is a new development and testing process that could significantly cut down on bugs.
That’s according to a Bloomberg report from November 2019 citing software development insiders at Apple. Per that report, Apple is planning a massive overhaul of its development process to create less-buggy updates.
As far as the specifics of that new process, Bloomberg’s internal sources say it comes down to this.
- Unfinished or buggy features will be disabled by default in test builds at Cupertino.
- Internal testers will then be able to selectively enable or disable those features using a new system called “Flags.”
- The end goal, it seems, is for testers to be able to find and isolate buggy code or features quicker and more efficiently.
In a familiar move that echoes iOS 14, Apple is also apparently considering delaying some major iOS 14 features to future operating system updates. That way, it can place more of its focus on speed and stability improvements.
For users who experienced the objectively buggy iOS 13, that will likely be a welcome change.
What key features will iOS 14 have?
It’s still incredibly early in the iOS 14 development cycle. As a result, there are virtually no rumors currently circulating about potential features.
With that being said, there are some extremely likely candidates. For example, support for 5G connectivity is essentially a given. Apple is also likely to introduce more advanced augmented reality features.
But while nothing has been confirmed to be on the table yet, there’s no shortage of iOS 14 wishlists and concept videos that explore what Apple could add.
Not all of the features in these concepts are probable. But some of them may be more likely than others. Here are some of our picks for likely and much-needed features for iOS 14.
Banner-based calls and Siri interface
Back in iOS 13, Apple redesigned one of its most contentious user interface elements: the volume indicator. Going forward, the company may do something similar for its other intrusive elements.
That could include the Siri interface and the incoming call interface, which both take up the entire screen. (That’s also fairly antiquated design, being present since the first iPhone in 2007.)
While Android planted the flag first, it’s likely well past time for Apple to adopt some type of banner-based alert for incoming calls. While a redesigned Siri interface is slightly less likely, it could be in the same vein.
Apple revamped the iOS experience for iPad with iPadOS. But many of those improvements, like a Safari downloads manager and mouse support, also arrived quietly on iOS 13.
While iPadOS is likely to remain a separate entity with its own distinct features, there’s certainly some room for additional iPhone multitasking in iOS 14.
Just think how useful Split View, Slide Over and Drag & Drop could be on an iPhone. That becomes more exciting when you consider that next year’s “Max” iPhone is rumored to sport a gigantic 6.7-inch display.
Ultra Wideband features
Apple’s 2019 iPhones have a new proprietary U1 chip that introduces Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology to the handset lineup. We’ll spare you the specifics of the technology, but it essentially works like ultra-precise and indoor GPS.
But Apple hasn’t widely implemented any sort of UWB in iOS 13, beyond a new AirDrop feature that lets users more easily share files with other UWB-equipped iPhones. There’s obviously more to come.
Between rumors of indoor navigation and an Apple-branded Bluetooth/UWB tracking tag called AirTags, we’re pretty sure that iOS 14 is going to include some major improvements taking advantage of the U1 chip.
A boost to Siri
It’s no secret that Siri has lagged behind in terms of accuracy and features. Just look at its closest competitors, Google Assistant and Alexa, and you’ll see that Siri certainly seems like a less-advanced assistant by comparison.
Apple has a vested interest to continue improving Siri. And based on Apple’s hiring over the past couple of years, it looks like the company is actively putting time, effort and manpower into doing just that.
As far as what those improvements will look like, it’s unclear. But Apple is said to be developing something called a “SiriOS.” Some potential features of SiriOS could include better support for third-party development and platform independence.
Smaller & iPad-only improvements
In addition to the likely features (5G and AR) and the ones mentioned above, there’s a good chance that Apple will also add other small-but-meaningful changes.
A redesigned Home screen would be a big one, although we haven’t seen any indication of that recently. Apple could also do well by its users by revamping the notification system or stock apps like Clock and Camera. It could also make better use of the OLED display with a simple “always-on” mode like the Apple Watch.
It may also involve iPadOS-specific solutions like support for multiple user accounts. Other potential iPad improvements that come to mind include wider support for computer peripherals and generic media.
What devices will iOS 14 be compatible with?
All of the shiny new features of iOS 14 aren’t going to mean a thing if your iPhone can’t run it. There’s no official word from Apple on device compatibility quite yet, but there are some rumors that iOS 14 could still support a wide swath of devices.
French site iPhonesoft, for example, recently predicted that iOS 14 will support all of the same devices that iOS 13 did. That’s a total of 15 iPhones, not including this year’s devices like the rumored iPhone 9 or the iPhone 12s in the fall.
It is worth noting that iPhonesoft has a hit and miss record when it comes to predictions. For iOS 13, the site falsely forecast that iOS 13 would drop support for the iPhone SE. That didn’t turn out to be the case. (iPhonesoft seems to be hedging its bets by stating that the iPhone SE is going to remain supported this year.)
Of course, there’s definitely a bit of incentive for Apple to continue supporting older iPhones as long as possible due to its shift to services.
The more people that can watch Apple Arcade games, play Apple TV+ and take advantage of whatever new services are on the horizon, the better for Apple.
Because of that, a device compatibility list identical to iOS 13’s is not necessarily out of the question.
When will iOS 14 be released?
We don’t know exactly when Apple will release iOS 14. But based on Apple’s past release timelines and schedules, we can make some sure bets.
For one, we fully expect Apple to announce iOS 14 and its features at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, which typically takes place in June.
From there, app developers and users signed up for Apple’s public software testing program will likely get access to the beta that month or soon thereafter.
If Apple follows its usual release pattern, then iOS 14 will officially launch in September alongside other operating system updates like watchOS 7 and macOS 10.16. (Although Apple did release macOS Catalina a bit later this year in October.)
What are some of the new features you are looking forward to with iOS 14? Please sound off in the comments below.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.