Tag Archives: iOS 14

Top iOS 14 Features

By Tracey Dowdy

Apple’s September 16th release of iOS 14 is one of Apple’s biggest iOS updates yet. The update features Home screen design changes, updates for its existing apps, new features, improvements to Siri, plus a host of tweaks that include – finally – Widgets to streamline and customize your home screen.

Here are some of iOS 14’s best and already most popular features.

Custom Widget Stacks – Apple has finally added widgets for your Home Screen in iOS 14 – something Android users have had for years. Users can pull them right out of Today Center and onto your main iPhone display. iOS 14 also features Widget Stacks, so you can create one widget space on the Home Screen that houses multiple widgets you can swipe between.

Improvements to Siri – Siri just got smarter and can answer even more questions, and users can now use Siri to send audio messages.

Picture in Picture – iOS’ new Picture in Picture mode allows users to watch videos or talk on FaceTime without exiting another app. Your FaceTime call or a video will continue playing in small window users can resize or drag to any corner of the iPhone’s screen.

Approximate Location Sharing – Plenty of apps want to know your location, whether or not it’s relevant to the functionality of the app or not. In iOS 14, users have a new privacy option that lets us use location-based features while hiding our exact location.

On-Device Dictation – In iOS 14, dictation improves over time as you use your device with all of that learning done directly through your phone’s hardware rather than through Apple’s servers. Plus, all processing is now done offline, so when you dictate a text message, note, or email to your iPhone, it stays on your device.

Redesigned Apple Music – “For You” in Apple Music is now “Listen Now,” offering better than ever suggestions for what you might like to listen to. Search now provides recommendations based on genre and mood, and your playlists now feature animated artwork. And, to further improve your listening experience, Apple Music now includes Continue Playing that will seamlessly transition from one song to the next with music in a similar style, so there’s no dead air.

App Library – App Library allows users to find any downloaded apps in the App Library. It lets you eliminate Home Screen pages and hide apps providing users with a much more organized iPhone interface.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Hidden features in iOS 14.5

By Tracey Dowdy

Apple’s release of iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 brought users several new features, including unlocking your iPhone while wearing your mask as long as you have an Apple Watch. There are new Siri voice options, and you can now force apps to ask your permission to track you; and another feature Android users have had for years is the ability to fully customize your home screen, complete with custom app icons and placing widgets wherever you choose.

These are some of the updates that have garnered the most attention, but there are several other features you’re going to want to take advantage of – here are some of my favorites. 

Apple Maps reporting feature 

Like Waze’s functionality, Apple has added tools to report an accident, road hazard,s and speed checks to Apple Maps. Apple verifies the Report and then shows an icon to alert drivers of the hazard, but not speed traps -you’ll only get an alert for speed traps while using turn-by-turn navigation. 

To report, either say something along the lines of, “Hey, Siri, there’s a speed check here,” “report an accident,” or “there’s something in the road.” You can also tap the card at the bottom of the screen to view the options card while using turn-by-turn navigation, then select Report and pick the appropriate option.

Delete Mail and Safari

In a move we thought we’d never see, Apple is finally allowing users to drop native apps like Safari and Mail. Finally, die-hard Gmail fans like me can make it my default email and Google my default search engine. Open your iPhone or iPad’s Settings app, then scroll down to the bottom, where it lists all installed apps. Choose your preferred mail or browser app and tap on it. If it’s been updated for iOS 14 – not everything has yet, so keep checking – you’ll see either Default Browser App or Default Email App. Tap it, then make your selection. So far, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Outlook, and Hey email are updated to include this new “default” toggle. 

Easily search the emoji keyboard

Speaking of updates that have been a long time coming, iOS 14 has refined the search feature for emojis, making it much easier to find precisely the emoji you need. Once you launch the emoji keyboard, you’ll see a search bar at the top of the keyboard. 

Send Downloaded Apps Directly to App Library 

It takes time to curate your Home screen, get those App icons customized and widgets in place. 

Previously, when you downloaded a new app, it defaulted to your Home screen, but with iOS 14, you can send it directly to your app library. Simply open Settings > Home Screen and choose App Library Only in the top section. Your recently downloaded apps appear in the App Library’s Recently Added category, making them easy to find when you’re ready to move them to their new home. 

Hide – and this time they mean it – photos you want hidden

Apple included the ability to hide photos in iOS and iPadOS for quite some time. However, photos you didn’t want to see anymore – or didn’t want others to see if they were scrolling through your phone – were stored in a Hidden Album in the Photos app that was way too easy to find. With iOS 14, Apple finally gets it right. 

Go to Settings > Photos and make sure the Hidden Album switch is turned off. That may seem counterintuitive but in this case, enabling the setting means the Hidden Album will show in the Albums tab. Now, images and videos you hide in your camera roll will still be saved on your device and in the iCloud Photo library, but you can’t access them unless you go back and turn the Hidden Album feature on.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.


New Features Coming in iOS 14

By Tracey Dowdy

Hey kids, Apple’s doing it again. iOS 14, slated to be released this fall, comes with a whack of fun new features that will make you love your phone even more, and make Android users smile. More on that later. 

For me, one of the most exciting new features allows users to pin a conversation to the top of messages. If you don’t get a lot of texts in the run of a day, this may not seem important, but at a time when many of us are still at some level of quarantine and several states are rolling back re-opening plans, keeping in touch via text is more essential than it’s ever been. For me, having my family group text pinned to the top saves me scrolling through multiple texts from coworkers and friends. To pin a contact or conversation, swipe to the right across any thread. 

Not only can you pin a conversation, but you’ll also be able to tag someone in a conversation when you want to get their attention. This will transform the way we communicate in group texts and be a relief to everyone who hates group texts but doesn’t know how to escape without being rude or missing out on the occasional piece of useful information. You’ll also be able to reply directly to a message to create a sub-thread within the conversation to avoid blowing up everyone’s phones in the group. Although we’ve always had the option to start a separate message, this keeps it all within the same thread. To tag an individual, use the @ symbol just like you do on other platforms.

Not that most of us will be traveling abroad any time soon, but iOS 14 has a translation app built-in. Instead of using Google’s Translate app on your iPhone, a native app will convert text or hold conversations with someone who speaks a different language. Current languages include English, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Portuguese, and Russian. 

Users have two options. Type the word or phrase you want to be translated, or tap on the microphone on the bottom of the screen to use voice-to-text. Once you’ve finished typing or speaking, the app will translate it to your selected language. I wish I’d had this in France when my Uber driver and I were on opposite sides of a busy street and couldn’t find each other. Though the word “ibis” is spelled the same in French and English, trust me, it’s pronounced quite differently. 

If you need more than the pronunciation of a word or to have a sentence translated quickly, turn the phone to landscape mode and tap on the mic icon. You don’t need to press and hold – the phone will continue to translate the conversation. 

iOS14 will finally allow users to add widgets to their home screen, a feature Android users have had since 2008. Widgets contain more information and are more functional than app icons, so Apple is pretty late to the party on this one. Instead of swiping to the left of the home screen, you can add them directly to your display. You’ll be able to choose from multiple sizes, and the intuitive Smart Stack widget will show you information from numerous apps when it thinks you need it. For example, it will bring up your calendar, the weather app, and drive time for your commute when you wake up. You can choose to continue to view widgets in Today View off to the left side of your main home screen, or, drag and drop a widget from the Today View onto your home screen.

A second “Android’s had that for years” feature is an app drawer that Apple calls App Library. The feature will auto-sort all your apps into folders, making it easier to find all the apps installed on your phone. To access, swipe left on your home screen, and choose one of three ways to find the app you’re looking for: 

  • Check in one of two folders at the top of the screen: Suggestions (recently used) and Recently Added (newly installed apps). Both will automatically update to adjust which apps are in either folder.
  • Search for your app by name in the search field at the top of the screen.
  • Tap to see an alphabetical list of your apps.

Bonus – App Library pairs with another new home screen feature allowing you to hide pages of rarely used apps.  

Finally, iPad’s popular video in picture-in-picture that creates a thumbnail image of a video that continues to play even when you’re on another app or screen is coming to your iPhone. The feature allows you to switch to a different part of your phone, without pausing or stopping your video. You can drag PiP around your screen, adjust the size of the video by pinching and zooming or even temporarily hide it off the edge of your screen. To exit PiP, tap the X to close. It works with FaceTime video calls and Apple TV, podcasts, Safari, FaceTime, iTunes, Home, and any third-party app that supports PiP on iPad. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.