There are some welcome changes to Siri in iOS 14. With a splash of paint and improvements in translation, knowledge, and maps.
[UPDATE: April 2021] Apple has released iOS 14.5.
New Siri voices in iOS 14.5
As we previously reported, with the update Siri will no longer default to a female (or male) voice, with a further two speech options being added for users in the US. The changes also apply to the HomePod.
The new voices are available to English-speaking users worldwide, and Siri users can choose a preferred voice in 16 languages. Users outside the US still have two options, but they are now called ‘Voice 1’ and ‘Voice 2’ rather than Male and Female.
Other changes in iOS 14.5
Apple has added other notable features in the update.
Unlock with an Apple Watch while wearing a mask
The pandemic has made Face ID almost useless in many situations where mask-wearing is required, with iPhone users having to revert back to entering their passcode to gain access to their device (first world problems!).
Apple has come up with a solution for Apple Watch owners. If they are wearing their watch, no passcode is required to unlock their iPhone.
For this to work, the iPhone needs to be in close proximity to the Apple Watch running watchOS 7.4, which must be unlocked. To set this up, head to Settings > Face ID & Passcode, then scroll down to Unlock with Apple Watch.
App tracking transparency
App developers including heavy-hitters such as Facebook and Google will now have to ask for your permission before they can access your advertising ID. This ID is used to track you across websites and other apps, primarily so they can serve you targeted advertising.
From iOS 14.5, you'll get a pop-up asking if you want to be tracked whenever you install a new app. Existing apps tracking permissions can be changed in Settings > Privacy > Tracking.
This is a great move and a step in the right direction for data privacy.
Apple Maps traffic crowdsourcing
Drivers can now report road accidents, speed checks, and traffic hazards from within the Apple Maps app using dedicated buttons or by using Siri - which is far safer than fiddling with your iPhone while driving.
iOS 14.5 also introduces:
- Battery health calibration for iPhone 11 and above.
- PS5 and Xbox Series X|S controller support.
- AirPlay 2 support for Apple Fitness Plus
- Dual-SIM 5G
- Support for AirTags in the updated Find My app.
- Apple Card Family sharing.
- Apple Podcasts redesign.
- Apple News redesign.
- Reminders has new sorting and printing options.
- Voice Control expansion to Australia and Canada and adding support for Spanish in Mexico, Spain, and the United States.
When is the iOS 14 release date?
iOS 14 has now been released!
Siri has had a makeover
Visually, the virtual assistant no longer takes up the entire display when activated in its first significant redesign since it first launched eight years ago.
Siri pops up with a distinct, more prominent, colorful icon that appears when you hold your finger to the bottom of your iPhone screen, or say “Hey Siri”. The new icon now appears over the top of the regular iOS UI. It can even display compatible widgets, such as when you ask for the weather.
Siri includes a new compact mode, and now supports sending audio messages.
iPadOS 14 has also seen an update to Siri. Generated results will appear in a newly designed compact screen in the bottom right-hand corner of an iPad screen.
The new icon also hovers over the new iPadOS 14 user interface, which also includes widgets directly on the home screen.
Siri suggestions widget
Widgets give users information on a devices’ home screen from various installed apps. From stocks to news and weather.
In iOS 14, Apple introduces the Siri Suggestions widget. It works much like Siri Suggestions already does by intelligently displaying apps and Siri suggestions based on your usage.
So if you often open the Maps app in the morning, Siri will display it in the widget. If you message a friend regularly at lunchtime, a shortcut to text them will appear on your home screen at the right time of day.
You can ask Siri to ignore specific apps by pressing and holding their icon.
Siri translate improvements in iOS 14
Siri is also getting a new Translate app that will support full and real-time translations across multiple languages. The feature is privacy-respecting and works entirely offline.
You can save common phrases so you can access them quickly. Plus, download translation packs to keep your conversations entirely on-device and not network-dependent.
Apple has also built in a feature to display translated text in “attention mode,” which shows it full-screen in large letters in landscape mode.
The new Translate app appears to be a significant rival to Google’s own Translate app, and it will also work in landscape mode on iPhones.
At launch, Translate will support 11 languages, including:
- Mandarin Chinese
Apple has been improving upon the number of direct answers Siri can give you, with 20 times as many “facts” available compared to three years ago.
Siri does now give you more answers beyond the facts it knows. Siri’s ability to use web-based information to provide you with a web-based solution is much better.
Siri will now work with the Share ETA feature. If you’re navigating somewhere with Maps, you can tell Siri to share your ETA with a contact. They’ll get a text notification and can open it to get a live route update.
If the person you share your ETA with doesn’t have at least iOS 13.1 (or uses an Android phone), they’ll receive a text message containing your expected arrival time. Automatic updates will follow if it changes.
Maps in iOS 14 add cycling directions. You can now ask Siri to give you cycling directions to a particular destination, too.
iOS 14 supported devices
- iPhone 11
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 6s
- iPhone 6s Plus
- iPhone SE (1st generation)
- iPhone SE (2nd generation)
- iPod touch (7th generation)
- iPad Air 2 and later,
- All iPad Pro models,
- iPad 5th generation and later
- iPad mini 4 and later.
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