The big reveal of iOS 14, which Apple dropped during the company’s WWDC keynote, showed there’s a lot to like about the new operating system. It looks characteristically slick and is set to power the iPhone 12 when it lands later this year. Here’s everything we know so far.
The iPhone 12 is, of course, one of tech’s most talked-about upcoming releases. The glimpse we got of iOS 14 gave us a small window into what to expect from the new phone and from the Apple devices of the future.
Notably, the homescreen has been redesigned – the first real shake up in that department since the inception of the iPhone – we’ve also seen changes made to Siri, Messages and more. We’ve rounded up 14 of the best features in iOS 14 and we’ll be adding more and updating this page regularly.
For a look at which phones run iOS 14 and when iOS 14 will be out for everyone see below.
iOS 14 features – Best new features
1. Siri – finally a design refresh
Siri often gets left out when Apple talks about iOS, however this year that’s not the case. Apple’s virtual assistant has received a big refresh, with new abilities and a big redesign.
Siri now pops up with new animations and it’ll offer up specific widgets for questions like ‘what’s the weather like?’. Siri also finally supports sending messages and improved translation support thanks to the new Translation app. These translation requests work offline, so you don’t need an internet connection.
Apple said Siri has 20x more ‘fact than just three years ago’ so it should be better than before.
Related: iPadOS 14 features
2. Home Screen – more functional
Apple is redefining the iOS homescreen this time around.
App Library is a new space at the end of your homescreen that automatically groups apps together into larger, more visual folders. There’s a search bar at the top and Apple is using on-device intelligence to group together suggested apps and most-used apps. There’s even a dedicated Apple Arcade folder, and one for your recently downloaded apps.
3. App Clips – Ditch always downloading the app
Google has Instant Apps, and now Apple has App Clips. These are handy mini apps that appear only when you need them and don’t force you to download the whole app. Take a car rental for example: with App Clips, you’ll be able to use NFC or a QR code to access the relevant portions of the app without delving inside the App Store.
It looks like this will finally end the pain of having a load of apps crammed into pages 4 or 5 of your homescreen that you can never find.
4. Widgets – Resizable and customisable
Widgets are coming to iOS too – finally. These widgets can be resized and they look far better than they did before.
You can also add them to your homescreen, rather than having them stay locked to the Today view and these take the place of your typical apps.
Related: Which iPhones are getting iOS 14?
Apple showed off a few examples, including a Smart widget and ones for Podcasts and Weather (you can see more in the image above).
All of these examples looked far better than the previous widgets and we assume developers will be able to build their own widgets into their apps to bring this functionality across the board. The iPad and iPadOS will also get this feature.
We’ve been asking for this update to the homescreen for years and it’s great to finally see Apple add it.
Related: WatchOS 7 features
5. Translate – a new app
There’s a new app coming in iOS 14 and it’s called Translate. You can probably guess what it does.
This is Apple’s rival to Google Translate and it lets you translate text or voice into 11 different languages. It looks like this app will work offline, which is always a handy touch when you’re out of data range.
6. Default apps – finally
While it wasn’t mentioned on stage, iOS 14 brings the ability to set apps that aren’t Safari and Mail as defaults for email and web-browsing.
7. Picture-in-Picture – a great iPad feature finally comes to the iPhone
Picture-in-Picture has been around on the iPad for a while now, but with iOS 14 it’s coming to iPhone. This will automatically happen when you close an app with a video playing and that video window will be resizable, just like on the iPad.
This sounds like a minor feature, and one that has been on Android for ages, but we’re sure iOS users will love its addition.
8. Messages – taking inspiration from the competiton
There are a number of new features coming to messages and it feels like the majority of them have been inspired by competing apps like WhatsApp.
You can, for example, now pin chats to the top of the app and there are a load more expressions and customisability for Memoji. Apple highlighted one such addition being masks that can be added to your face.
Group chats have seen an update too, with in-line replies (finally) and mentions (also finally) along with customised group images. It looks like these images change depending on who chats the most in the group which is a nice touch.
9. Maps – improved maps coming to the UK
Apple Maps saw huge updates last year with far better maps for the States. In iOS 14 these new maps are coming to UK, Ireland and Canada.
Related: All the new AirPods features
Apple also said it was making it easier to ‘Find Great Places’ with new guides that are constantly updated with recommended places to go.
iOS 14 also introduces cycling directions, with a dedicated cycling option that mentions how hard the route could be. There’s even a handy option that lets you disregard steps from your route. This cycling feature will be coming to a number of US and Chinese cities first.
10. A host of handy UI tweaks
From Siri no longer taking up the whole screen to phone calls showing in a tiny box at the top of the display, iOS 14 has a myriad of UI tweaks that make a whole lot of sense. This also included picture-in-picture for FaceTime chats, a far more visually appealing Home app and little notifications for when your AirPods are running low on juice.
11. Privacy – more settings to keep you safe
In iOS 14, Apple says it is giving you more control over privacy and data. There’s a new recording indicator (basically a small orange dot above the signal bar) that alerts you whenever the mic or camera are being used, along with detailed privacy information inside the App Store. You can upgrade older accounts to Sign In with Apple and you can share only an approximate location rather than an exact one.
12. Improvements to the AirPods
This isn’t necessarily an iOS 14 feature (that we know of) however there are some new features coming to AirPods. AirPods will not automatically switch between devices, you can connect multiple pairs to the Apple TV and there will be more custom options for your sound.
13. Your phone is now your car key – kind of
Car Key support is here in iOS 14 and if you have a very specific BMW model you can unlock, share and restrict your vehicle within iOS. A nifty little trick ensures you don’t lose access to your car if your phone dies as Apple says the key works for five hours even with no battery.
14. Improvements to Accessibility
There’s a nifty feature buried inside the Accessibility settings and it lets you map actions to multiple taps of the back of the phone. You can set different things for two taps and three taps and while it’s a little slow in the current incarnation, this is the first beta.
You can even, with the help of a Shortcut, make it so it’ll open the camera.
When is iOS 14 out?
iOS will be arriving for the iPhone in the autumn, likely right around the time we see the iPhone 12.
There will be a developer preview available from today (June 22) and a public beta – that’s for anyone who doesn’t pay for a developer account – coming in July.
iOS 14 phones
Apple has announced which iPhones will get iOS 14 and you can see the list below.
- iPhone 11
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 6S
- iPhone 6S Plus
- iPhone SE 1
- iPhone SE 2
- iPod Touch 7
Related: How to download iOS 14