Apple iOS 14 Review: What You Need To Know

Apple iOS 14 Review: What You Need To Know
  • Earlier this week, Apple released iOS 14 with several new features. This is an Apple iOS 14 review to help you decide whether to update now.

Apple recently launched iOS 14 there is a wide range of new features. Updates have been added to widgets, the App Library, the Message app, Memoji, the Maps app, Translate, Siri, search, Home, Safari, the Weather app, Apple Arcade, the Camera app, FaceTime, the Health app, the Music app, the Notes app, the Photos app, the Reminders app, Voice Memos, and Shortcuts. Here are some of the highlights

New Widgets

Apple iOS 14 - Widgets

Apple iOS 14 includes redesigned widgets that can be placed on the Home Screen. There are small, medium, and large-sized widgets to pick the amount of information to display. And there are widget stacks to make the most of the Home Screen and the Smart Stack taps into on-device intelligence to surface the right widget at the right time. You can look at widgets to browse in the widget gallery.

App Library

Apple iOS 14 - App Library

There is a new App Library that automatically organizes your apps into categories. The Suggestions category in the App Library taps into on-device intelligence to show the apps that you are likely to be looking for based on the location or time of day. And the Recently Added category shows the apps that were recently downloaded from the App Store along with App Clips (more on that below) that were recently launched. You can also hide Home Screen pages to the App Library even faster by tapping on the dots at the bottom of the screen while in the jiggle mode. One of the features I like about the App Library is the ability to easily find apps using the A-Z scroll bar.

Compact Design

Apple iOS 14 - Compact Calls

Now incoming Phone and FaceTime calls are appearing as a banner at the top of the screen rather than taking up the whole screen. And Siri now has a compact design to you can ask for information while multitasking. And Picture in Picture now enables you to watch a video or take FaceTime calls while using another app. While this is a subtle improvement, I think it solves the problem of being interrupted while doing something productive.

New Messages Features

Apple iOS 14 - Pinned Messages

In the Messages app, you can pin conversations for up to 9 favorite message threads at the top of the list. And you can utilize the Mentions feature to direct message an individual in a group conversation. Apple also added inline replies so you can rely to a specific message and see all of the related messages in their own view. And Apple integrated group photos for a shared group look.

New Memoji Styles

Apple iOS 14 - New Memoji

There are 11 new hairstyles and 19 new headwear styles in order to customize your Memoji. And there are new Emoji stickers for sending fist bumps, hugs, and blushes. Plus there are six added age options and new face-covering options.

Maps Improvements

Apple iOS 14 - Maps - Cycling

For iOS 14, Apple added cycling directions in order to see routes for bike lanes, bike paths, and bike-friendly roads while also accounting for elevation and street traffic. And there are new guides with recommendations for places to eat and explore, which was curated by trusted brands.

There is new electric vehicle routing so you can plan trips with supported vehicles with optimal charging stops along the way. And for cities like London and Paris, there are congestion zones to route through active zones.

Layered on the new Maps app are warnings about speed cameras so you will know when you are approaching speed and red-light cameras along the route. Plus there is a Refine Location feature that enables a highly accurate location and orientation when in areas with poor GPS signals.

App Clips

Apple iOS 14 - App Clips

Back in June, Apple announced a new type of app feature called App Clips. An App Clip is essentially a smaller version of an app that developers can build, which can be used to perform a specific task right when you need it. And App Clips are usable in just a few seconds. You can discoed App Clips through tapping NFC tags or scanning QR codes from the Maps, Messages, and Safari. And the recently used App Clips appear in the App Library’s Recently Added category so you can download the full version of the app.

Translate Improvements

Apple iOS 14 - Translate

Apple added a new Translate app in iOS 14 — which was designed for real-time conversations and it can be used completely offline so privates can remain fully private. There is a new split-screen design in the conversation mode that has a single microphone button that can automatically detect which of the selected languages is being spoken and can be transcribed and translated on the correct sides of the screen. And you can use Attention mode to show translations in larger text in order to get someone’s attention. The voice and text translations can be used in any combination of 11 languages.

Siri Enhancements

Apple iOS 14 - Siri

As mentioned earlier, Siri now has a new compact design so you can see information onscreen without interruption. Apple also expanded the knowledge of Siri so that it brings 20x more facts than three years ago. There are web answers to help find answers to a broader set of questions using information from across the Internet. You can now send audio messages with Siri on iOS and CarPlay. And there is expanded language support for the new Siri voice and Siri translation.

Advancements In Search

Apple has made substantial improvements to search so now you have one place to find apps, contacts, files, quick information like stocks and weather, and common knowledge questions. The Top Hot results will show you the most relevant information. And there is a Quick Launcher to quickly launch an app or website as you type in just a few characters. The search queries for content in Mail, Messages, and Files is much more sophisticated now too.

Apple Home Update Makes Devices Even Smarter

Apple has updated the Home app so there are now suggested automations to help you set up automations with just one tap. And there is a new visual status at the top of the Home app that gives you a summary of accessories which require your attention.

There are dynamic suggestions of the most relevant accessories and scenes that now appear in Home controls in Control Center. Adaptive Lighting now automatically adjusts the color of your smart light bulbs throughout the day in order to maximize comfort and productivity.

And there is now Face Recognition for video cameras and doorbells using on-device intelligence in order to let you know who is there based on the people you’ve tagged in your Photos app and recent visitors you identify in the Home app. You can also now set up Activity Zones for video cameras and doorbells to capture video or receive notifications only when motion is detected in areas you define.

Safari Gets Faster And More Secure

Apple iOS 14 - Safari Translation

Apple has improved the performance of Safari with an even faster JavaScript engine. And there is a new Privacy Report, which shows cross-site trackers that are being blocked by Intelligent Tracking Prevention.

And there is a password monitoring feature that securely screens saved passwords for any that may have been involved in a data breach.

In terms of web page translation, now Safari can translate whole websites in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, French, German, Russian or Brazilian Portuguese (feature in beta).

Weather App Now Has More Details

The Weather app in iOS 14 now has next-hour precipitation chart, which shows a minute-by-minute forecast of the intensity of rain or snow over the coming hour for the U.S. And there is severe weather information that displays government-issued alerts about certain severe weather events such as tornados, winter storms, flash floods and more, for the U.S., Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia.

AirPods Gets A Few New Features

Apple iOS 14 - AirPods Notifications

If you have a pair of AirPods Pro, then you may notice a new spatial audio feature — which taps into dynamic head tracking so that it provides a more immersive surround sound experience. And there is automatic device switching that transfers audio from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac without missing a beat. Plus there are battery notifications, which tells you when it is time to charge your AirPods.

Additional Privacy Features

Apple iOS 14 - Privacy

Apple has added a few subtle privacy features in iOS 14. For example, there is a new recording indicator (shown above) that is displayed whenever an app has access to your microphone or camera. And your approximate location can now be shared with an app rather than sharing your precise location. You can also limit photo library access to apps so that you only share selected photos with an app whenever it asks for access. And now app and web developers can now offer the option for you to upgrade your existing accounts to Sign in with Apple.

Accessibility Enhancements

There are several accessibility enhancements that were added in iOS 14. The Back Tap feature is a quick way to trigger accessibility features by tapping on the back of your iPhone. And the headphone accommodations amplify soft sounds and adjust certain frequencies, customized for an individual’s hearing. Now in a Group FaceTime call, sign language prominence will be detected and it will make that person prominent.

And there is sound recognition that uses on-device intelligence to detect and identify important sounds like alarms and it alerts you to them using notifications. The VoiceOver Recognition feature also uses on-device intelligence to recognize elements on your screen to improve VoiceOver support for app and web experiences. 

The image descriptions read complete-sentence descriptions of images and photos within apps and on the web. And text recognition speaks the text identified within images and photos. And screen Recognition automatically detects interface controls to aid in navigating apps.

Several other accessibility features and improvements were also added in iOS 14.

App Store

For the App Store, important details about each app are displayed in a scrollable view, including a way to see games that your friends are playing.

New Apple Arcade Features

Several features were added to Apple Arcade in iOS 14. For example, Coming Soon gives you a sneak peek at upcoming Apple Arcade games so you can automatically download them as soon as they are released. The See All Games section was improved with sorting and filtering by release date, updates, category, controller support, etc. The achievements are browsable right from within the Apple Arcade tab and the Continue Playing section makes it easy to resume recently played games across devices. Plus the Game Center dashboard showcases your profile, friends, achievements, leaderboards, etc. all from within your game.

Apple Cash Family

Apple Cash Family has been added in iOS 14, meaning Apple Cash can be enabled for up to 5 family members under 18. And you can send money to your child through Messages or by asking Siri. And notifications for purchases or person-to-person payments as they occur. Plus parental controls can be set to limit who your children can send money to and there is an option to turn off Apple Cash for family members under 18. There is also shared oversight with another adult in your Family Sharing group.

ARKit Updates

There are Location Anchors in ARKit 4, which enables apps to place AR experiences at a specific geographic coordinate. And extended face tracking support now works on the new iPhone SE. Plus video textures in RealityKit enable apps to apply video to any part of a scene or virtual object.

Camera Performance Improvements

Apple added some Camera performance improvements in iOS 14:

1.) There is improved shot-to-shot performance speeds up the time to first shot and makes shooting photos even faster. 

2.) QuickTake video can now also be captured on iPhone XS and iPhone XR when in Photo mode. 

3.) Now There are quick toggles in Video mode to change video resolution and frame rate from the Camera app.

4.) There is an Updated Night mode capture experience on iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro that provides guidance to help you stay steady throughout the capture as well as an option to cancel the shot mid-capture. 

5.) Exposure compensation control enables you to lock an exposure value for an entire camera session. 

6.) The mirror front camera lets you capture selfies that match the front camera preview.

7.) And QR code reading has been improved to scan codes, even if they are small or wrapped around objects.

New Apple CarPlay And Car Key Features 

Apple iOS 14 - Car Keys

For certain vehicles, you can unlock and start your car with the iPhone. And you can add digital car keys in Wallet. Sharing digital car keys with friends or family is easy and you can customize controls and create restricted profiles. Plus you can revoke and share keys temporarily, too.

Apple CarPlay for iOS 14 now has new categories of supported apps for parking, EV charging, and quick food-ordering. There are new wallpaper options. And you can now share ETA and send audio messages with Siri.

Plus there is a horizontal status bar support for cars with portrait screens. For additional options to search for points of interest, there is Chinese and Japanese keyboard support.

New FaceTime Enhancements

Apple improved the video quality with up to 1080p resolution on iPhone X and later. And there is new eye contact feature that uses machine learning to subtly adjust the position of your eyes and face to make video calling feel more natural, even when you are looking at the screen instead of the camera.


Now there is APFS encryption support for external drives.

Health App Now Helps You Wind Down

The Health app for iOS 14 now has a Wind Down feature that helps you create a pre-bedtime routine with the use of apps and shortcuts such as listening to a relaxing playlist. You can set custom sleep schedules to help you meet your sleep goals with bedtime reminders and wakeup alarms. And the sleep mode minimizes distractions during Wind Down and Bedtime by turning on Do Not Disturb and simplifying your Lock screen.

Plus there is a new Health Checklist that helps you track and manage health and safety features in one place. And Apple added a new Mobility category in the Health app, including metrics like walking speed, double support time, step length, and walking asymmetry.

Keyboard Enhancements

Apple iOS 14 features a number of keyboard improvements. For example: 

1.) On-device dictation helps protect privacy by performing all processing completely offline. And dictation in search uses server-based dictation in order to recognize terms you may be searching for from across the Internet.

2.) You can search within the Emoji keyboard using a word or phrase

3.) The Keyboard displays AutoFill suggestions from Contacts for email addresses, phone numbers, etc. in apps

4.) There are new dictionaries for French-German, Indonesian-English, Japanese-Simplified Chinese, and Polish‑English

5.) Wubi input method for Simplified Chinese has been added

6.) Autocorrection support for Irish Gaelic and Norwegian Nynorsk has been added

7.) A new redesigned Japanese Kana keyboard with easier input for numbers has been added to the keyboard

8.) And now Mail supports email addresses using non‑Latin languages

Apple Music App Update

There is a new Listen Now tab for playing and discovering music, artists, playlists, and mixes in the Apple Music app. The Autoplay feature keeps music playing when you reach the end of a song or playlist by finding similar songs to play. Search now features music for your favorite genres and activities and it shows helpful suggestions as you type. Plus there is Library filtering to help you find artists, albums, playlists, and other items in your library even faster

New Notes App Features

Several new features were added to the Notes app. There is a new Enhanced actions menu that provides easy access to locking, scanning, pinning, and deleting. And there is a Top Hits feature in search surfaces your most relevant search results. The Pinned Notes list can be collapsed or expanded. The new Shape recognition feature enables drawing perfect lines, arcs, and other shapes. Apple also enhanced scanning captures for sharper scans and more precise auto-cropping.


The Listen Now feature is smarter and now includes your personal episode queue and new episodes picked for you.

Photos App Makes It Easier To Find Content

The Photos app now makes it easier to find content by filtering and sorting your collection. You can pinch and zoom to quickly find your photos and videos in more places, like Favorites and Shared Albums. Apple also added captions support for your photos and videos. And there is a redesigned image picker in apps uses the same smart search from the Photos app to help you easily find content to share.

Some other subtle features that were added to Photos is that Live Photos taken using iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 will autoplay with improved stabilization in Years, Months, and Days View. Memories enhancements also provide a more relevant selection of photos and videos and a larger music selection for Memory movies. 

Reminders App Gets Smarter

The Reminders app now lets you assign reminders to people you share lists with. And new reminders can be created from the lists screen without having to enter a specific list. Now there are smart suggestions that let you add dates, times, and locations with a tap. There are also personalized lists with emoji and newly added symbols. You can also rearrange or hide smart lists.

Shortcuts Become Smarter

Now there are Starter Shortcuts let you get started with a built-in folder of shortcuts, which are tailored for you. Shortcuts automations are now being suggested based on your usage patterns. And you can organize your shortcuts with folders, which can be added as widgets to the Home Screen. Shortcuts also feature a new compact design for running shortcuts to keep you in context while you use another app. 

There are also new Automation triggers that can run shortcuts based on receiving an email or message, your battery level, closing an app, etc. And Wind Down Shortcuts provides a collection of relaxing shortcuts to help you get ready for a good night’s sleep.

Voice Memos Are Now Easier To Organize

There are new folders to help you organize your Voice Memos recordings. And there are Favorites that lets you mark your best recordings and quickly access them later. Smart Folders now automatically group together Apple Watch recordings, recently deleted recordings, and recordings you marked as Favorites. Plus Enhance Recording reduces background noise and room reverberation.

New Default Setting

Under the Settings app, there is a new option to set your default email and web browser

Apple iOS 14 Review

Depending on your daily routine, there may be a specific feature highlighted above that especially resonates with you. If you are a cyclist, then you may appreciate the cycling routes added to Maps the best. Or if a large portion of your day involves texting people, then you might appreciate the pinned conversations feature. In my opinion, I like the widgets feature the best since I can move larger weather and calendar widgets to the Home screen — which is what I check often.

Before you update, keep in mind that some of your most favorite apps may become buggy. I heard there were issues with Pokemon Go immediately after iOS 14 was released so its developer Niantic had to quickly issue an update to the app in order to fix the issues.

But for the most part, I have heard that iOS 14 has been stable for a majority of users. Generally, Apple issues an update about a week after a major update like this one to fix things like battery draining or connectivity bugs. So you might want to wait for that update if you are in no rush.

If you want to upgrade, then you have to have an iPhone 6s and newer and 7th generation iPod touch. You can update by going to the Settings app > General > Software Update.

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