A detailed review of iOS 14: widgets, new dialer and other changes

At WWDC 2020, Apple announced new operating systems, among which was iOS 14. It’s time for a full review of all the innovations!

Which devices have received the update?

iOS 14 is available for installation on all those devices that support iOS 13. There are not many changes in the new version, so even the old iPhone 6s will still receive an update. Most likely, next year he will no longer receive iOS 15, but this is still a long way off.

iOS 14 devices

The new iPadOS 14 is also available for download, but that’s a topic for a separate article.

Major changes in iOS 14

Like last year, I was afraid to install the first beta and I do not advise anyone to do this – the system is very crude, many applications do not work, and all this together will prevent you from enjoying the new functions.

I installed the seventh beta and started using it. Surprisingly, it turned out to be very stable, and in general it seems that this year you can install the update right away – there are a minimum of bugs. On the iPhone 11, I did not notice a particular increase in performance and speed, but the iPhone 7 became a little more cheerful.

Let’s not delay – let’s move on to the chips.

Desktop widgets

Perhaps the biggest change in iOS 14 is the home screen widgets. And this is not only a major change in iOS 14 – it’s a major change to the home screen as a whole since the release of the very first iPhoneOS. It was always possible to place only icons and folders on the desktop, and now widgets have been added to them.

The widgets are available in several sizes: 2×2, 4×2 and 4×4. It all depends on the developer and what widgets he has prepared. You can place widgets only in certain parts; you cannot separate one row of icons – only two. Likewise, with the most compact – only with fixation to the left or right edge, do not put in the middle.

2×2 widgets are stretched icons with additional information. There is no way to work with data, the widget acts exclusively as an application icon. That is, you cannot go to an event in the calendar by clicking, the main page opens, but from the 4 × 2 and 4 × 4 widgets – please. It’s not entirely clear to me why they weren’t allowed to use data from compact icons, but let’s leave it on Apple’s conscience. We are waiting for some iOS 14.3, where such an opportunity will appear.

The widget screen hasn’t gone anywhere. There you can place both new types of widgets and old ones. Yes, this is a very big problem: new widgets need to wait, not all developers are in a hurry to submit them. The old ones cannot be placed on the main screen.

By the way, widgets can be combined in smart stacks, up to 10 widgets in one. It is convenient to categorize and quickly navigate by calendar or promotions. You can set the automatic change of widgets in the stack.

Application Library

Another major innovation is the Application Library. Basically, it is a menu with all your programs that are automatically grouped into categories. You can also go to the list for quick search.

Icons can be hidden from the desktop and they will be available only in the “Application Library”. It is convenient that unnecessary desktops can also be hidden and left, for example, only the main one with a couple of widgets and frequently launched applications, and all the rest can be searched through the “Library”.

New non-intrusive incoming phone call notification UI

Everyone was waiting for this, and it happened: a compact dialer in the form of a notification. I don’t get much calls, I answer almost all calls immediately, but I don’t play games and displaying a call on the whole screen does not piss me off, so for me it has become one of those chips that I can safely do without.

But my experience is my experience, and many users will be delighted with the new call display format.

Picture-in-picture mode

But I appreciated this feature in full. Finally, on a large screen, you can watch a video in a small window and do business further. Works with all videos that run through a standard player, and support in third-party apps is up to the developer.

Picture in picture

With a YouTube Premium subscription, a couple of times when the application was minimized, the video was displayed in a small window, but this does not have a pattern. Most likely, the chip will appear later and, logically, only for subscribers with a Premium account. But everything works well in the Wylsacom app!

Picture-in-picture mode is also available for video calls, there is support for FaceTime.

Spotlight and Siri

The search has also been updated. I tried to hide social networks from the main screen and launch them only through Spotlight or the “Application Library” – enjoy it. Firstly, now you don’t need to reach for the icon to launch programs but just click on “Go”. Spotlight has improved a lot: now quick navigation is available to files and sites, which greatly speeds up the interaction with the device.

Siri

Internet searches, tips, top results and other things began to work more quickly, one feels that Apple has seriously worked on the search. If earlier it was easier for me to open a browser or “Notes” for a quick search, now I get used to using Spotlight.

As for the Siri voice assistant, the assistant received a compact interface. Siri also feels better to work, especially to recognize spoken in two languages at the same time.

Now Siri can be asked to translate a specific word or a whole phrase. More than 65 language pairs are supported, among which there is the most popular version for the CIS from English to Russian.

AirPods

The world’s most popular wireless headphones have received spatial audio support, that is, the effect of surround sound and presence in the cinema. The gyroscope and accelerometer in each earbud tracks head movements and adjusts the sound to simulate a surround scene.

There was also a headphone sound setting. You can choose prepared presets, or you can customize it for yourself by comparing the sound before and after.

Also, the headphones have learned to automatically switch between devices of the same account: for example, you watch a movie on the iPad and you get a call on the iPhone – the headphones will understand this and you will not have to switch anything. Also, there were notifications about the low battery level of the headphones.

Updating standard applications

Many small, but important innovations. The main thing is the updated design code, which can be traced in all standard programs.

“Messages”

In Russia and neighboring countries, iMessage is not as popular as in the West, so most of the new features are not as relevant for us. The function of pinning chats, adding photos for groups has appeared, you can mention users in a conversation and follow the chain of responses.

“Notes”

As I said, we have updated the design, including all standard programs. Fresh, beautiful, but many will get used to it. In “Notes” we improved the action menu, adding several quick access points, updated pinned notes (the list can be collapsed and expanded), added “Top results” in the search, and improved recognition of documents and shapes when drawing.

Safari

Increased performance, which affected page launch speed. We also worked on security. A website privacy report has also appeared, which shows information on all cases of cross-tracking, blocked intelligent protection functions from data collection in Safari.

But if Safari is not to your liking – rejoice, the standard application can be replaced with a third-party one, just like the mail client. The only thing a developer needs to add is that Chrome already supports it.

Cards

The standard Maps application has got support for bicycle routes, city guides, routes for electric vehicles with charging station marks, and also learned to display toll zones and cameras on the roads.

Apple cards

House

When activating a HomeKit-enabled device, a new window for adding a device will be displayed, exactly the same as when activating AirPods. Scenarios will immediately be offered where the device can be integrated.

Home

The display of the home status has changed, all your gadgets will be displayed in the control center.

Adaptive lighting has appeared for lamps: the color temperature will change depending on the time of day. It didn’t work with my lamps – apparently, an update from the manufacturer is needed. We also added face recognition through cameras and the ability to specify zones of activity and “dead zones”.

Translate

A new application that will replace Google or Yandex translator for most. Why? It is integrated into the system. You can ask for the translation of the Siri phrase, or you can translate the copied text. Voice input is also available.

Apple translate

Minor changes

      • There are new Memoji and accessories: hats, hairstyles, protective masks;

Memoji

      • CarPlay has received support for new applications: parking, charging electric vehicles, and fast food ordering. You can also change the wallpaper for the home screen and CarPlay

Carkey

      • App Clips. There is a huge change in the future, but there are no examples of work at this time. These are the so-called application fragments that appear after scanning an NFC tag or QR code. For example, after placing a special tag in Starbucks, after scanning it, a window with suggested options will appear, and you will not need to download a full-fledged application;
      • Recognition of sounds. Chip “Accessibility”, which allows you to configure which sounds the smartphone should track and send notifications about them. For example, a dog barking or a fire alarm;
      • Touching the back panel. Also the “Universal Access” feature. You can assign a specific action to double and triple tapping on the back cover, or even launch an application through a pre-created command. I advise you to configure only triple tapping – with double, there are often random triggers;
      • All iPhones now have a quick toggle for video recording quality and frame rate;
      • Sleep function. You set the time, in what interval you want to go to bed, how much you want to sleep and what time you need to get up, and the smartphone, for example, an hour before going to bed, will offer to read or put down the smartphone altogether so as not to stare at the screen. All this works in conjunction with watchOS 7 – and it works well, we will prepare a separate article about it;
      • Finally, emoji search appeared in the standard keyboard;
      • A completely revamped Apple Music app. I don’t use the service, so I can’t say anything;
        New actions for automation in Teams. You can, for example, put the lights off, start the alarm, and do not disturb mode to connect the device to charge. I only charge my phone at night, so this scenario is very handy, and no NFC tag is needed;
      • The “Weather” now displays the probability of rain for several days ahead. Conveniently!

Should you install an update?

Yes. The system works stably, developers release applications with widgets, and everything works as expected on older devices.

On our own, we advise you to immediately add several widgets to the main screen and try to use them on an ongoing basis – after all, this is one of the main features of the system.