Most Useful Gadgets –
Apple released its latest operating system for iPhones called iOS 14 and it adds a slew of new features for all iPhones 6s and newer (it also works on the iPhone SE).
Some of these new features are everyday useful, while others will be welcomed news by fewer people. They include new widgets, PiP for videos and Facetime, an App Library, and new privacy settings.
I’ve been using a beta version of iOS 14 for a couple of months and here are the new features I think many people will love (and use).
The first thing you’ll notice is the new widget menu. Swipe right on your home screen to call up cards of apps you use most often. Podcasts, calendar, news, notes, weather. Much easier than searching the screens for apps. You can choose what to show here by tapping “edit.” Not every app can be added.
Widgets can also be re-sized as cards or enlarged app icons. Check out widget stacks where you can select the most frequently used widgets and they’ll appear as a single card. You’ll be able to change cards, or widgets by swiping up or down.
There’s a new app library if you swipe left past all of your screens. Apple puts these in an order. Apps you use most often, utilities, shopping, social, recently added. Tap search and every app is listed in alphabetical order. Unfortunately, the app library folders cannot be changed. Apple sets these up and for the moment, there is no way to edit which apps appear in which folders. It’s also a bit of a time suck to swipe all the way to the end of your screens to get to it. Hopefully, you’ve organized some apps into your own folders anyway.
If you get a phone call, the information no longer takes up the entire screen. It shows who’s calling in a small banner you can swipe to answer or ignore.
Rather than swiping down to find a text thread in messages, you can pin the ones to want to follow to the top. Just press and hold on the message and select pin. Now, these messages won’t get pushed to the bottom by newer messages you no longer want to see.
To protect your privacy, there’s a new location settings option that’ll prevent some apps from seeing your specific location. In Google Chrome, for instance, turn off precise location, and Google will only see and track your approximate location. I’d make this change immediately for any app that doesn’t need to see exactly where you are. If you use Tile trackers or another gadget to keep track of things you’ll want to keep the setting to “precise,” otherwise you won’t be able to find what you’re keeping track of.
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You know when you take a selfie, it’s reversed? Like a T-shirt with writing on it? In the camera settings, slide this tab over in “mirror front camera.” Now, your selfies will look like someone else took it.
There’s also Picture in Picture which allows you to keep a video playing in Safari. At the top of the video screen, there will be an icon with arrows that will place the video in the lower part of the screen. You can move the picture window to another place on the screen and keep it playing while you use another app. This feature isn’t available yet for some apps such as Netflix or YouTube, but those may come later. Picture in Picture also works using Facetime video calls. All great features.
iOS 14 can be downloaded now on iPhones 6s and newer. Before you download it, make sure you back up your phone to the iCloud or computer, and you’ll probably have to go in and delete some things you don’t need. It’s a large file. I had to delete apps and to make enough room to download it.
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