iPhone updateSource: iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple will likely announce iOS 14 in June.
  • 9to5Mac has been able to get hold of an early build.
  • Spelunking suggests users might be able to use apps without installing them.

Apple is expected to announce iOS 14 during WWDC this June, with a public release coming in September. But we're already learning all kinds of things about iOS 14 thanks to 9to5Mac getting hold of an early build of the update. The latest report suggests iPhone and iPad users might be able to try apps out without having to install them, first.

But rather than this being some form of demo mode, it appears that users would be able to scan a QR code and then experience a portion of the app without installing it. The feature comes in the form of an API, allowing individual developers to decide which parts of their apps they would like to make available when a QR code is scanned. The API appears to be called "Clips" right now, although that's probably not going to be the marketing name.

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The example 9to5Mac offers involves scanning a code that launches a YouTube video behind a native interface, even if YouTube isn't installed.

Let's say you get a QR Code with a link to a video from YouTube but you don't have the official app installed on your iPhone. With iOS 14 and the Clips API, you'll be able to scan that code and the video will be reproduced on a floating card that shows a native user interface instead of a web page.

This will immediately sound familiar to Android users. Google has offered Slices for a couple of years, with apps available via Google Assistant searches and whatnot. If Apple follows suit I'd expect to see similar results from Spotlight, although that isn't apparently part of the API just now – the feature can only be invoked by scanning a QR code.

At this point, we should probably remember that Apple has been known to ditch features even at the very end of a beta cycle, so something that's present now could well go AWOL before WWDC in June. And even if it doesn't, there are no guarantees that Clips will be part of iOS 14 in September.