Over the past few days, two Apple rumor sites (MacRumors and 9to5Mac) have published exclusive details about new features and changes in iOS 14 and related software, services, and products. 9to5Mac alleges the info is based on leaked iOS 14 code that it obtained, while MacRumors is vaguer, simply using phrases like “according to information obtained by MacRumors.”
It’s a wide-ranging info dump that touches on everything from the iPad Pro to the iPhone 9, Apple TV, and important accessibility features. Now that the initial trickle of information seems to have slowed, we’re rounding up the major findings below. Much of this information will likely be confirmed or debunked this June when Apple usually announces its final plans for iOS 14 and other software and services.
As is often the case with significant new iOS features, a number of startups and smaller developers are threatened by some of these new additions. TechCrunch rounded up a list of some of those who have a rough road ahead of them, but there are likely others, too.
There are a few important caveats to make, though. First, Twitter-famous developer Steven Troughton-Smith noted that this build is likely from December, so much may have changed. Features listed here may have been cut, expanded on, or changed, and new features have likely been added.
Second, neither 9to5Mac nor MacRumors disclosed anything at all about who they acquired the code or information from, bucking traditional journalistic practice, so readers should maintain some skepticism. We should also mention that it’s possible whoever provided the information to 9to5Mac and MacRumors acquired it through illegal means, and if the leak is real, this leak may have concerning ramifications for security for both Apple and its users. We just don’t know enough about what happened behind the scenes here.
All that said, here’s what the two sites claimed to have learned.
Trackpads, mice, and pointers
Code seen by 9to5Mac suggests “Apple is set to roll out rich system-wide support for mouse cursors with iOS 14.” The code references two new Smart Keyboard models for the iPad product line, and given a recent report from The Information on a similar subject, at least one of them may include a trackpad.
There will also be trackpad gestures, similar to what users already experience on Macs. 9to5Mac gives “tap with two fingers to right-click” as one example and adds that a “tap to click” setting was also found.
9to5Mac says it discovered support for multiple pointer graphics for different hover states (like for hovering over a link). However, it’s not all identical to the Mac; the article says “the pointer disappears automatically after a few seconds of not touching the connected mouse or trackpad, a concession to the touch-first experience of the iPad.”
Apple introduced pointer navigation support as an accessibility feature in iOS and iPadOS 13, but it is designed entirely for users with disabilities and does not follow conventions common on laptop and desktop systems.
Homescreen and app management
Taking a cue from Android, Apple seems to have plans to introduce a list view for apps stored on the iPhone as an alternative to the grid-based home screen. 9to5Mac writes that this list view includes new filters and sorting orders, such as by recently used or apps with pending notifications placed at the top.
The leaks don’t just include information about software features, either; they also contain hints about hardware. For example, the code suggests there will be a new Apple TV remote, includes references to Apple’s rumored Tile competitor, hints at the inclusion of Touch ID in at least one new upcoming iPhone, and makes it clear that the iPad Pro will have a three-camera system that includes a wide-angle lens, an ultra-wide-angle lens, and a time-of-flight (ToF) sensor.
Some of these revelations are tied to a continued emphasis on augmented reality by Apple’s engineers, designers, and developers. That ToF sensor would likely be used for AR apps, and we already knew that one of the key features of that Tile competitor (potentially called AirTags) would be the ability of users to use augmented reality to find lost objects.
The iOS 14 leaks point to even more than that, though; 9to5Mac reports that the code references a new AR app codenamed Gobi that would give users heads-up information on products or other things around them. The site claims Apple is testing this in its own stores and with Starbucks. The site also says Apple is developing an API that would allow third parties to develop extensions for their iOS apps that would allow users to use this feature with their own products, locations, events, or what have you.
MacRumors laid out a few major new Messages features that Apple is testing internally. MacRumors didn’t specifically name a code leak as the source for this information, and it even wrote that these features may not all make it into iOS 14; they might be held for a later update.
The MacRumors report claims that Apple will introduce a Slack- or Twitter-like “@” tagging system to reference and loop in different users in a conversation—something that would probably be used in group text threads. Also in testing for group text threads: typing indicators, which are currently limited to one-on-one conversations, and some way to “retract” sent messages (“Fine print visible to both the sender and recipients would indicate that a message has been retracted”).
Additional changes uncovered include:
- New methods for sorting wallpapers in the Settings app
- The ability to acquire third-party collections of wallpapers and have them displayed conveniently in settings
- Alipay support for Apple Pay
- The ability to set a HomePod or as a permanent audio output choice for an Apple TV
- Support for custom Siri voices provided by developers
- A number of HomeKit improvements
- Handwriting into text fields with the Apple Pencil and having that writing converted to text in the field
- Guided workout videos available on Apple TV and other devices
9to5Mac also found new accessibility options, including hand gestures via the camera, improvements to audio over AirPods for users with hearing loss, and one new feature that listens for audio cues like sirens, doorbells, crying babies, or alarms and notifies hearing-impaired users via haptic feedback.