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Everything You Need to Know About Apple’s Newly Released iOS 14

iOS 14

Back in June 2020 Apple revealed the next generation of their mobile operating system, iOS 14. It has been in closed beta testing since its announcement at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, but was officially released to the public on September 16th. Every Apple phone capable of running the previous operating system will be able to utilize iOS 14. That means every model of the iPhone released after 2014’s iPhone 6 will be iOS 14 compatible. This latest version is one of the beefiest iOS releases to date, sporting a number of significant updates and overhauls to help streamline the user’s experience. 

Here’s a list of some of the biggest changes coming to iOS 14:

Home Screen and Widget Smart Stacks

One of the more immediately noticeable home screen changes comes in the form of “data rich” widget functionality. Widgets themselves have been totally redesigned for improved visual clarity and may now be fully customized and added to the home screen. Apple has also introduced a new feature they are calling ‘Smart Stacks’. Smart Stacks allow the user to stack multiple of their most commonly used widgets on top of eachother. They can then swipe through the stack at any time to check their widgets manually, or allow Apple’s AI to show those widgets when it thinks they’re relevant. For example, if you tend to check the weather and your calendar first thing in the morning, the Smart Stack will pick up on that and have both widgets open and ready for you as soon as you unlock your phone. Likewise, if you check your Maps app around the same time every day after work, the Stack will automatically display your Maps widget including commute times around that same time of day.

App Library

Another significant feature of the redesigned home screen, the App Library automatically sorts and organizes apps into easy to navigate categories. It will arrange your apps into categories such as Social, Entertainment, Creativity, Arcade, Shopping, Utilities, etc. The App Library is found at the end of your home screen swipe and even allows you to hide entire pages of apps. There is search functionality, a suggested app folder, and the ability to sort alphabetically or by date added. Overall, the App Library cleans up the home screen considerably while saving much needed space for the new widgets.

App Clips

Apple has introduced App Clips with the release of iOS 14. App clips are lightweight, download-free apps that allow the user to perform small tasks quickly. They may not sound particularly useful, but in practice App Clips are actually incredibly handy and intuitive. Perfect for small tasks such as renting a scooter, ordering food online, paying for parking, or purchasing event tickets without actually needing to go and download the app itself from the App Store. This is ideal in single-use situations where you might not be using a particular service or brand more than once, such as when visiting another city. There is, of course, the option to download the full app straight from the Clip itself if you so choose. The experience is streamlined to be as fast and simple as possible, and it is fully integrated with Apple Pay to make payments a breeze.

Messages

Messages is another app that got an overhaul with the new iOS update. First and foremost, the UI has been touched up to make things more organized and expressive. There is a new filter that allows the user to browse all messages, only messages from senders you know (that are in your contacts), or only messages from senders you don’t know (messages from people not in your contacts). There is also a new feature allowing you to see who is currently typing to you from the conversation list without actually having to tap into the specific conversation. Additionally, it is now possible to pin conversations. This puts the convo front and center right at the top of the Messages app, perfect for people you chat with frequently such as friends and family. Inline replies have also been added, making it significantly easier to read and respond to messages when in a conversation with multiple people. Likewise, a new ‘mentions’ feature has been added that highlights the user’s name when mentioned in a message. It is attention-getting and difficult to overlook, perfect for group messaging. 

Tied in with the other, more practical updates for Messages is an update to Memojis and emojis. With the iOS 14 update, Apple has added a number of new hairstyles, headwear and accessories, and age options so you can customize your Memoji like never before. They’ve even added a face mask so your Memoji can social distance safely! The update to emojis adds the much-needed search function to iPhones that were previously only enjoyed by Macs. Now it is easily possible to search for emojis by keyword.

Siri

Siri was not left out of Apple’s sweeping updates for iOS 14. Sporting several new UI updates, Siri will no longer take over the entire screen when you invoke her. Instead, she appears in the form of a small orb at the bottom of the screen. When she responds, her replies pop down from the top of the screen like a notification. It is much less visually invasive and allows the user to continue browsing without interruption. 

Apple has also greatly improved Siri’s ability to answer questions. She now has over 20 times as many facts available to answer questions than she did three years ago. The iOS 14 update has expanded her web capabilities, allowing her to tap into specific data and respond to queries with more accurate information.

Picture in Picture

The much loved iPad feature finally makes its way onto the iOS platform with this newest update. With Picture in Picture, the user can watch videos or take FaceTime calls while doing something else. By enabling PiP, the video shrinks down to a thumbnail and docks itself in the corner of the screen. The window is persistent and will stay visible even when switching to and using other apps. Simply pinch to make the window larger or smaller, or tap and drag to move the PiP around on your screen. If the window is too obtrusive, merely swipe it off the screen where it docks invisibly. A small tab will remain that reopens the PiP window with a single tap. The best part is this doesn’t mute the audio or end the phone call, allowing you to continue browsing freely with zero visual obstruction.

Translate

With iOS 14, Apple has introduced an all-new Translate app with tons of functionality and features. With Translate, simply turn your phone to landscape and tap the microphone button and the app will dynamically translate your conversation. It will convert your voice to text in both languages and can read aloud for easy and fluid dialogue. You can even download language packs for offline use when you are venturing off the grid. There’s a favorites function which allows you to save commonly used phrases for easy access, and even an ‘attention mode’ that enlarges the translated text with a colorful background that easily catches the eye.

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At Lithios we value outside opinions. This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers.