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iOS 14 Review: Complete Visual Overhaul With Improved User Privacy
Apple is known for its seamless software support for Macs, iPhones, and iPads. The company releases a major software update every year. Unlike Android devices, these updates on the Apple ecosystem will be available for everyone on day one.
iOS 14 is the latest software update to embrace the new iPhones, and phones as old as the iPhone 6s, which was launched in 2015. These old iPhones also support almost all the features of the iOS 14, other than the one that requires hardware support. I have been using the iPhone 11 as my daily driver with the iOS 14 update, and here is what I feel about the latest update.
Gives More Control Over Mic And Camera
The most important security feature on iOS 14 is that it now showcases a tiny dot at the top right corner of the display. It shows a yellow dot if the microphone is being used and a green dot if the camera hardware is being used.
This works even on the first-party apps like dialler, camera, and built-in voice recorder. This feature will immediately tell if an app or a game is accessing the camera or the microphone in the background. This is the one feature that I think every smartphone operating system should offer, and it is an easy way to improve the security on a smartphone.
Widgets On iOS 14
Apple didn't give much room for customization from iOS 1 to iOS 13. With the release of iOS 14, the company is now offering more control over the home screen, allowing users to place widgets of different style and size.
There are a lot of first-party and third-party widgets that offer a glimpse at the various features of the battery. Ex: There is a stock widget that can show the battery percentage of the phone and AirPods if connected and the AirPods case.
Another widget that I really liked on the iOS 14 is the photos widget, which shows photos from the past. As it just takes a small space on the home screen, it just doesn't disturb the overall clean aesthetics of the home screen.
To add a new widget, just long-press on the home screen, and then click on the plus button on the top left corner, where it opens the widget window. One third-party widget that I enjoyed on the iPhone 11 is from Cricbuzz. I closely follow IPL, and this widget would give me a quick glimpse at the scorecard.
If you are an international traveler, then widgets like world clock are something that would be of great use, where it can show four timezones at the same time. As third-party app developers can also make widgets, we can expect to see more and more features in the coming days.
In the initial days of testing the iOS 14, I thought I would never use these widgets. However, after a few days of using some of the widgets, I just loved the fact that these widgets can show me the exact information that would otherwise require me to open an app.
Compact Calls And App Library
Being an Android user for a long time, I just hated the fact that an incoming call would fully block my iPhone's screen. iOS 14 has finally fixed this issue. If you receive a call while using the phone, the call details will be displayed at the top portion of the display. Similarly, if you receive a call while the screen is locked, the phone will show a full-sized caller ID.
Though this might not seem like a major feature, it just looks aesthetically pleasing, and it also allows the users to save progress or close an app before answering the call.
App Library is yet another feature that every minimalist will approve of. After using an iPhone for a couple of months, you might have apps over three to four home screens, and looking for the exact app might become a bit of a stretch.
The App Library smartly categorizes the app onto the single home screen. In the suggestion library, there will be recently used apps, whereas the recently added folder will show apps that one has recently installed on the phone.
If there are fewer than four apps in a folder, then you can click on the icon to directly open the app. However, a folder like social will have more than four apps (15 in my case) that will open the folder, giving access to all the available apps.
iOS 14 finally supports picture-in-picture mode, which was available on Android for a long time. With this feature, you can open an app in a small window and open another app on top of that. This is one feature that I used a lot, especially to watch videos while doing other things on the iPhone 11.
I binge a lot of content on Prime Video and Netflix, and both apps now support picture-in-picture mode on iOS 14. YouTube also supports PIP; however, one needs to have a YouTube Premium subscription to do the same.
This mode also offers a lot of on-screen controls to forward or backward a video without opening it in a large screen format. The window can be placed anywhere on the screen, which is also another nifty feature at least for binge-watching multi-tasking enthusiasts.
Messages Are More Interactive
The stock Messenger app -- the Messages has got a lot of new features to compete against the likes of Whatsapp and Telegram. From pinned conversation to group photos. Besides, it also supports mentions and in-line replies as well. I wasn't able to explore some of these features, these features can only be used with other Messages users.
On opening the Messages app, it now displays submenus like known sender, unknown sender, transactions, promotions, and junks. And it is actually good at categorizing the messages by looking at the content. This is an interesting feature, especially when searching an old text message, and all the banking related texts are stored separately, making it easy to search for an OTP or a pin.
Apple Maps Gets New Features
Apple Maps now supports features like cycle routes and electric vehicle routing. However, these features are not available in India. Similarly, Maps also offers Guides, which is again a feature that is not that deeply integrated in India. However, it does give an option to the user to add information about the places.
Translate App For Travellers
Translate is yet another interesting addition on iOS 14. If you are an international traveler, then this is one of the must-have apps for sure. Considering the current pandemic, I am yet to explore the app. As of now, it supports 11 international languages, and Hindi or any Indian languages are not included.
iOS 14 Is The Biggest iOS Update Ever
These are just some of the highlight features of iOS 14. There are a lot of additional features like Siri no more take up the entire screen, and Safari also gets more privacy and security-centric features.
Then, there are other features like support for Spatial Audio on AirPods, and battery level notifications. Another feature of the iOS 14 that is worth the mention is App Clips, which are like mini-apps, which are easy to download and access.
So, if you have an iPhone that supports iOS 14, then this is the update that one must install that will definitely improve the overall user-experience, especially on modern iPhones with a full-screen display. At the time of writing this review, Apple released iOS 14.1, which further stabilizes the iOS, and I didn't notice any major issues that could hamper day-to-day usage.