15 Things You Can Do in iOS 14 That You Couldn’t Do Before

  • by Catherine Deagle

Apple has released iOS 14, which rolled out as a free over-the-air upgrade for iPhones. This latest version of iOS brings with it a whole host of new features and improvements, and we’ve rounded up our top 15 changes that you should try asap. 

1. Try out App Clips

App Clips are a new way of interacting with apps in iOS 14, if developers have made them available. You launch them using NFC, QR codes, or web links, and they run as a bite-sized version of an app on your phone without having to actually install the full thing. Think about renting a scooter or buying a coffee, for example—situations where you just need access to a snippet of functionality but don’t want to download an app, create an account, and go through a bunch of hassle just to do a simple task.

2. Adding widgets to the home screen

Android has had home screen widgets for so long that most of its users seem to have grown bored of them, but they’ve now arrived in iOS 14, and they’re pretty slick, too. To get started, press and hold on a blank area of the screen to get to edit mode, then tap the plus icon (top left). You’ll then see a gallery of widgets that you can drag and drop into place, adjust the size, or create a stack that dynamically changes depending on the time of day.

3. Send apps to the App Library

iOS 14 adds an App Library, which is like a smarter version of the app drawer that Android has had since forever. It’s to the right of your home screens, and automatically organizes all of your apps into folders. Go to Home Screen from Settings to set whether newly installed apps get added to one of your home screens or the App Library by default. You can’t customize the App Library’s folders—it organizes your apps according to its own categories—but it’s an easy way to declutter your home screen without working too hard.

4. Watch videos with picture-in-picture mode

Our personal favorite and one we thank god for, is the new picture-in-picture for videos. You don’t have to do anything to enable this, just start watching a video on the web, YouTube, Netflix, or any other app, and then exit the app. The video will remain in place. You can tap and hold on the video to move it around, or pinch it to resize it. 

5. Pin conversations in Messages

If there are conversations in Messages that you want to dive into easily, you can now pin them to the top of the app in iOS 14. The easiest way to this is by long pressing on a conversation and choosing Pin—it will then show up at the top of your list. Inside group chats, you can set the name and picture: tap the top icon, then info, then Change Name and Photo.

6. Mention your contacts in Messages

Another new feature in Messages in iOS 14 is the introduction of mentions in group chats (see also Twitter, Slack, and just about every other messaging or social media app). Just type out the name of the person, and if it matches someone in the conversation, you can tap it to turn it into a tag. If the name turns blue, then you’ve set up the tag correctly.

7. Add more variety to your Memojis

iOS 14 brings a host of new style options: more hair, more headwear, more face coverings, and a broader range of ages, all so your Memoji can look more like you. Additional stickers are available too: a hug, a fist bump, and a blush.

8. Get smart home automations suggestions

The Home app and the HomeKit framework have gotten a few upgrades as well. When you now add an accessory to the Home app, you'll be given a list of suggested automations that you may want to setup right away such turning on a night light, turning on your AC, and more. 

9. Get to bed on time

For the insomniacs out there, iOS 14 works with watchOS 7 (or on its own) to help you get to sleep at the right time each night, with reminders and Do Not Disturb options. To get started, just open up the Health App and tap  on the Set-Up Sleep button to get started with the feature.

10. Translate websites in Safari

A welcome new upgrade with iOS 14 is that you can now translate webpages inside the mobile browser. When you’re on a site that Safari can work with, you should see a translate icon up in the address field. Tap on this icon to translate the text into another language of your choice.

11. Search inside apps

iOS 14 lets you search inside apps from the main search bar (to the left of your home screens). Start your search as normal, and you’ll see some “search in app” suggestions appear, which you can tap to select; scroll right down to see other apps you can search inside. Most of the native iOS apps are supported, including Mail, Maps, and Messages.

12. Use your iPhone as a translator

iOS 14 brings a new app with it, called Translate. As you might expect, it’ll act as a translator for you: You can enter text by typing it or speak out the words you want translating (via the microphone icon), and translations can be played out loud, too, if you need help with translation. Tap the star button to save a translation in the Favorites tab.

13. Get more facts from Siri

You'll never know until you try it out for yourself, but Apple now claims that Siri knows 20 times the number of facts that it did three years ago, and we haven’t been able to catch it out with anything so far.

14. Get cycling directions in Apple Maps

You will now be able to plot your route from A to B using pedal power, though you’ll only see them in a select number of U.S. cities to begin with. A bicycle icon will appear when you search for a route, with a number of alternatives showing journey time, road types and the elevation of the terrain on screen.

15. Plan a journey in an electric vehicle

New with iOS 14 is electric vehicle routing, which should ease driving if you own an electric car. The feature allows you to add charging stops to your route, taking distance, vehicle charge and elevation into consideration, though support may vary depending on your car make.

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