8 of the Best iOS 14 Features

8 of the Best iOS 14 Features
Say hello to my new home screen in iOS 14, which will look nothing like your home screen — and that's a good thing. (Photo: Caitlin McGarry)

iOS 14 officially launched this week alongside the new Apple Watch Series 6, iPad Air 4 and iPad 8th gen. If you didn’t play around with it in beta and aren’t sure where to start, here are a few of the best iOS 14 features.

App Library

best iOS 14 features
Image: Apple

iOS 14 completely reorganises the way your home screen looks with App Library. It lives to the right of your home screen and automatically organises all of your apps into category folders for a much cleaner aesthetic. And if you prefer you can organise the folders yourself.

You can choose whether new apps should get added to the app library or to your home screens by default in your Home Screen settings.

App Library also can make suggestions on what to actually have on your home screen, based on what you use most.

Home screen widgets

best iOS 14 features
Image: Apple

So what are you going to do with all this extra screen real estate? Whack some widgets on it.

You can now mix and match your home screen with traditional apps and larger widgets containing info important to you.

For example, you can have large and sleek widgets for your calendar, the weather, stocks, maps and reminders. But there’s heaps more available from Apple and third party developers.

I personally enjoy the battery widget, which clearly shows me how much juice my phone and connected devices (Apple Watch and AirPods Pro) have left.

You can search for widgets to add by holding down a blank space on the screen and tapping the ‘+’ icon. This will bring up a gallery of widgets that can be dragged and dropped onto your screen. You’ll also be able to customise the screen size and even choose widgets to stack if the mood strikes.

Picture-in-picture mode

We finally get picture-in-picture mode with iOS 14!

This essentially lets you play a video over the home screen, or apps. And can be dragged around as well as pinched to zoom.

So let’s say you’re streaming Netflix and then switch over to your email, the video will minimise but continue playing on screen. It will even  follow you between apps and you can even keep playing audio if you want the video entirely in the background.

Pinned conversations

Screenshot: iOS
Image: Gizmodo

iOS 14 let your pin conversation to the top of your messages list. This is applicable for group conversations and one-on-one messages. It’s not a huge new feature but it’s a super convenient one for every day use.

You can sync up to nine conversations and they will also sync across devices, including Macs and iPads.

Backtap

This is an awesome feature buried in the iOS 14 accessibility settings. It allows you to attach certain functions to a tap on the back of the phone. For example, you can use it to take a screenshot, to access the home and lock screens, to mute the device or to activate Siri.

There are two movement that can be assigned —  double and a triple tap.

Translate

Image: Apple

While this will be more useful once travel is back on the menu, this is still very cool. Not to mention relevant to a multicultural country like Australia.

The new Translate app, which is connected to Siri, allows for immediate translation between select languages. It can even work offline.

All you have to do is tap the microphone icon and say something. The second person will receive text and audio back in the their language immediately.

Change default browser and email

With iOS 14 you change set something other than Safari as your default browser. The same goes for third-party email apps. This means you can set something like Gmail, for example, as the default for mail:to links.

Unsurprisingly, this is not one that Apple is advertising very strongly.

It’s worth noting that the third party mail apps will need to allow this compatibility so not all of them will work right away.

AirPods updates

Image: Tegan Jones

AirPods are also benefiting from iOS 14. First off, all AirPods wil now be able to switch between devices seamlessly from simply picking one up — no more messing about with bluetooth settings.

This means you can switch between watching something on your iPhone, iPad or laptop simply by interacting with them. Alternatively, you can swap the audio between devices.

But arguably the coolest update is for the AirPods Pro — spacial audio. This gives you a surround sound experience which “replicates the movie theatre experience.” It utilises the  accelerometer and gyroscope to sync the audio with how your head and device are moving. Spacial audio supports 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos audio.


Disclosure: the author owns 12 shares in Apple.