iOS 14 Features and Specifications
iOS 14 is here it was just revealed yesterday. The first look and hands-on at the features and what to expect for this OS will eventually hit all your iPhones in fall and September around then.
When it comes out brought to you by the six color shirt of course also happy pride month. So right off the top I just want to say the memes were pretty strong about Apple taking a lot of old features from Android in this release.
Now like why are we just getting widgets instead of like eight years ago when they could have added widgets to iOS. After actually using it I’m feeling like the answer is they wanted to get a couple extra things right to put on top of it.
It’s not like it is better than the android version but there’s some stuff that they do their own way. You’ll see what I mean so first up is the new home screen.
We’ve all heard about it. We’ve all seen the widgets by now but let’s just go over everything first of all there’s the new app library. Which is a space all the way at the end to the right of all the home screens that are literally just a big list of all your apps but automatically organized?
This is basically the first time iOS has had like an app drawer where everything’s in one place uh it took a decade. But it’s finally here and inside of that, there’s just a straight-up alphabetical searchable list.
If you’re into that too now you can still pull down to search from anywhere on the home screens or if you want to find apps that way and actually add more results from the web and from Siri.
But hopefully, you’ll need to use this a lot less and then of course finally widgets now. It’s still not quite an android level where you can put them like anywhere you want and change them to whatever size you want.
It’s not the same thing as you can’t put a widget in the middle of a home screen. It has to be either on the left side or the right side which is kind of a bummer and you can’t put it alone on the right without anything to the left of it.
So it’s still restricted in a very iPhone way as you can tell but at least you can long-press hit that plus button and break out into all these new widgets and add them to any home screen with some degree of freedom.
You see there are different sizes, all the widgets here in iOS 14 off the bat are all first-party apple apps and there’s a nice variety with different sizes and functionalities.
But we are expecting third-party apps to become as well and that to me is exciting to finally be coming to the iPhone. I’m looking forward to having my Tesla widget where I can unlock the trunk of my car just from the button or open the charge port or even just have a widget of my Google calendar.
Instead of an apple calendar so okay now apple’s added the fundamentals of widgets are on the home screen so now on top of that they’ve added a couple interesting little dynamic nuances and extra things you can do with that.
First of all, there’s a widget you can add called smart stack where once you add it. It’s basically a carousel of several common widgets and you can scroll through them manually or have them change automatically based on predictions.
It’s made for you and while that’s neat I didn’t really think I would use this until I found out. You can edit smart stacks and remove unwanted or useless widgets from this carousel.
But I think even cooler is the method of adding or creating your own smart stacks you can do this anytime you want. So if you want to create a stack you can add two widgets on top of each other that are the same size so hold and drag that second widget on top of the first widget drop it on top and it becomes a scrollable stack.
Then you can continue to add more and then you can edit to make it a smart stack or just keep it this way that is pretty nice. Then another thing long overdue from iOS that you can now do because you have an app drawer is hiding home screens.
So let’s say you have a couple apps that you don’t use that much as classic iOS a bunch of apps you don’t use. But you don’t want to delete them just in case you want to use them once in a while.
So instead of putting them all in like a random folder that just sits at the end of one of our home screens now. There’s an app drawer in iOS you can just hold down to edit and click the dots at the bottom.
Then just uncheck to hide an entire page boom now you never have to see those apps taking up space on your home screens again. You can now actually make a whole iOS home screen setup with no apps and just one page of widgets if you wanted to. So overall this home screen stuff is definitely the biggest change in iOS then we have a bunch of changes in this category that we’ll call compact UI. In previous versions of iOS, there are plenty of things with plenty of actions that just unnecessarily take up the entire screen.
Now they’re all fixed so now when you get a phone call or a facetime call for example it won’t just dominate the whole screen anymore. It’ll just give you another drop-down notification from which you can easily hide it and keep doing what you’re doing.
It’ll keep ringing or you can accept or reject right away. That’s a good compact UI and then once you’re actually on facetime. You can actually swipe up, go home and do other things and the facetime continues doesn’t pause your video. It keeps the camera up and working.
You can look something up and grab a phone number whatever you’re going to do. It doesn’t have to pause and you can move around that picture and picture as long as you’re doing all that and speaking of picture picture-in-picture.
It’s just generally more widely supported throughout the entire OS now. So whether you’re watching a movie on apple TV in that app or just any video in safari really and it’s pretty straightforward once a video is a full screen just swipe up to go home and that video will shrink down and keep playing in this little picture-in-picture window.
Then you can play with the size of that window, move it around to any corner and just keep doing whatever you’re doing behind that picture. You can even swipe it over to the side to get rid of the visual for a minute but the audio keeps playing in the background.
Then you can bring it back whenever you want to keep going. It really does feel more like true multitasking and then lastly for a compact UI. Siri which in all previous versions of iOS used to always be this full-screen takeover. Now in iOS 14 is just a little animation here at the bottom again.
They’ve sort of adjusted it but it’s not perfect so you can call up Siri the same way long-press the power button. It’s this smaller animation at the bottom of the screen you ask it a question.
It pops up an answer at the top of the screen where it can but it doesn’t let you interact with anything underneath directly without exiting Siri. So while the animation is smaller and it doesn’t take up the whole screen. It still doesn’t quite feel as much like the true multitasking where.
If they let me scroll an article underneath my Siri answer nevertheless you can still see what’s underneath there. If you need to reference it while you’re talking to Siri then from there are a lot of little useful things.
But little things I think to categorize them we’ll put them into two buckets straight from android and genuinely new stuff that Google should copy. So straight from android that stock keyboard now finally has added Emoji search so instead of typing a word and hoping the right suggested Emoji pops up.
Now you can just search for any Emoji you want anytime which has revived the age-old question. Is this Emoji prayer hands or a high five apple’s keyboard does not service?
When you search for high five but Google’s does apple is team prayer hands Google is team high five. Which team are you on then there’s a new stock translate app which is nice to see it only supports a smaller number of languages and looks like about a dozen right now.
But I expect to see that list grow over time and it works great for quickly translating conversations between two people. Then finally default email and browser apps will be able to be changed in iOS 14.
Finally, it is just email and browser apps but you know those are the two that most people most often want to set as a different default. So I’m excited to get chrome as my default browser and I am very excited to have something other than the useless to me mail app as my default mail app.
Then we also saw app clips which are like little snips of apps that you can quickly temporarily use when you don’t have the whole app installed but need to use some of its functionality.
A lot of good stuff there but then we’ll move on to the super unique features that I haven’t seen some of this stuff wasn’t even talked about on stage.
But you know as people dig through the betas we found some of it and it’s good I want to start with some accessibility settings. So in iOS 14 if you go into settings accessibility touch and then back tap you can now map a double-tap or triple-tap of the back of the phone to a shortcut.
I’ve mapped double-tapping the back of my phone to open up Siri so literally, all I do is double-tap the back and after about half a second Siri pops up. Then I think I did triple tap to take a screenshot and there it does it’s a slight delay but it does work.
It’s kind of neat to have an extra thing mapped to the back of the phone. I kind of wish opening the camera was one of the available shortcuts. With a quick update.
You can actually set a Siri shortcut to run on that double-tap of the back of the phone, and then you can set that shortcut to point to any number of things. So at this point.
I literally have the shortcut set to open Google assistant on a double-tap which is pretty hilarious. You could also have it open the camera or whatever else you really wanted to.
While we’re at it here’s another really interesting accessibility feature: accessibility sound recognition that will let you turn on notifications if the phone’s mics recognize a sound that might be important. So it’s meant for people hard of hearing. But could still be useful to anyone.
If it picks up a doorbell or a fire alarm or a faucet running that you forgot to turn off that’s pretty sweet there are more Emoji customizations. They still don’t quite look exactly like me but at least you can add face coverings like masks another sign of the times along with that hand washing detection from the apple watch.
Then a privacy feature anytime literally any time an app starts using the camera iOS shows a little green light to let you know that something is accessing the camera and anytime the microphone is accessed a little orange light.
Then in the improved faster camera app when taking a night mode photo it gives you a gyroscopic guide to help you keep the phone still to take a better handheld to picture another one.
If you’re face-timing and the AI detects that someone in that group facetime call is using sign language it will move them up to the most prominent biggest spot. So everyone on the face time can see the sign language.
There’s also a ton of other things on apple’s site from the pinned conversations and messaging to cycling directions and navigation in maps.
But clearly, most of the good stuff is in the details here’s a list of all the iPhones getting iOS 14 in the fall again likely around September like they do every year and so that’s every iPhone since iPhone 6s. But overall I think it’s looking pretty good.
I mean it’s still not like a drastic UI overhaul. It’s very clearly still, an iPhone half the people who get this update will probably never use most of these features. But there’s a lot of good ones baked in there for the nerds like who want to dig in and actually use that stuff.