Everything Apple just announced at WWDC 2020: iOS 14, MacOS Big Sur, new Mac chips

Apple silicon is real and the company's stoked about the new chips. But for some, the updates to Siri, Memoji and Messages may resonate more.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Lori Grunin
Ian Sherr
5 min read

Apple 's opening keynote Monday for WWDC 2020, its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, started with Tim Cook addressing the empty auditorium about Black Lives Matter and coronavirus before it launched into the announcement of iOS 14 and its home-screen redesign and new widgets. Thus far, we've heard about the new iPadOS 14, MacOS Big Sur, TV OS and WatchOS updates as well. Public betas will start next month, and as usual ship in the fall.

But the big news was Apple's highly anticipated move to Arm-based chips away from Intel, intended to deliver better performance at lower power consumption than before, a (presumably) Metal-optimized graphics processor and other custom acceleration silicon. New systems will ship by the end of 2020, and the Apple silicon will roll out across the rest of the Mac line over the next two years. 

All of the Big Sur Apple apps are written to support the new custom Apple processors and Apple claims that support is just a simple recompile for developers (or at least within a couple days). Partners like Adobe and Microsoft will also be onboard with their apps at launch and A claims the performance will be great. Rosetta 2 will automatically recompile older apps when you install them. Catalyst-compiled iOS and iPadOS apps and games will run natively starting on Day One.

More magic for AirPods, as smart switching the connection across devices comes to our rescue. AirPods Pro gets spatial audio using a gyro and an accelerometer to track your head movements, with multiple spatial standards supported. Apps will provide more granular options for location tracking and will give developers a way to show you more detail about what they're capturing.

We also saw a preview of the new Apple TV Plus show, Foundation, based on Isaac Asimov's classic sci-fi book series.

Better multiuser support in TVOS lets you pick up where you left off in a game and it now supports Xbox Elite and Xbox Adaptive controllers. Apple TV Plus has lots and lots of screens under its belt.

iOS 14

There are new capabilities for Siri, including a Google Translate-like app for live conversational translations. Messages, too, gets much-needed updates with the ability to pin messages, improvements in group conversations and more looks for Memoji customizations.

Maps, too, has new features, such as cycling navigation for more cities, and EV routing to alleviate worries about running out of juice en route. CarPlay "rethinks car keys." They're now virtual and shareable. App Clips come to the App Store for quick access to new apps and to link to apps from Safari and more.

Borrowing a feature from iPad (and Android phones), Apple brings Picture-in-Picture to the iPhone in iOS 14, which will give you a floating thumbnail of a video if you switch to look at your home screen or any other app. The company also revises the home screen with a bold new tool called App Library and the ability to put dynamic widgets on the home screen.

For smart home, the Home app provides adaptive lighting, the ability to define activity zones for cameras, plus face recognition notifications from your doorbell across all the devices.

Apple WWDC 2020 event

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iPadOS 14

You'll find the same redesigned widgets as iOS 14, but iPadOS improves Photos navigation with a sidebar; the sidebar design has also been integrated into several of Apple's own apps, with tapping and dragging. Compact notifications for incoming calls and more won't obscure your screen -- that's in iOS as well. Search has been redesigned to work from anywhere and to operate more like Spotlight on the desktop.


Finally, the new Scribble app provides handwriting recognition note-taking for use with Apple Pencil and the ability to cut and paste more intelligently, as well as the ability to write into text fields -- very Windows 10-like. It can recognize different languages as well.

MacOS Big Sur

A complete redesign will greet you when you update to the newest MacOS version, though you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a pretty subtle change. The same Photos design from iPadOS comes to MacOS, as do many of the app updates that we'll get in iOS and iPadOS. Control center in the menu bar, widgets and notification center is more sophisticated as well.


Mac Catalyst, the tool for porting iOS apps to MacOS fleshes out some of the capabilities to make it more natively MacOS-like. Safari will be faster at loading frequently visited websites and enhanced privacy features, including more granular controls over how long the privileges you've granted a site last.


WatchOS 7

Customize your Apple Watch face with multiple complications -- customizing is easier, too -- plus there are some new faces. You'll be able to share faces, as well. Your body will also appreciate the new dance routines to jazz up your workout. At the other end of the spectrum, it adds sleep tracking. With the new OS, the Watch will be able to track your hand washing as well.