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First impressions of iOS 14

Posted in Apple

iOS software updates usually land at 6pm here in the UK; that’s 10am where Apple are based. iOS 14 didn’t arrive until just after 9pm, then update itself took an hour to download and process, and another half an hour to install.

All told, I didn’t get to play with the new operating system until the morning after, and even though there were no killer features I was overly excited to try out, it still felt like a long time to wait!

After using iOS 14 for a full day, my first impressions are actually better than expected.

Widgets

The feature that I’ve enjoyed the most but kind of just shrugged my shoulders about when it was announced back in June is widgets.

First up, they’re more useful than they used to be. Not only that, but the size options make them more or less detailed, depending on how important the information is to you.

Moving widgets out of the swipe-right search/widget screen and onto the Home screen has been great. A strategically placed widget (or a couple of small widgets) at the top of the screen brings the apps nicely into thumb-reach, where Reachability or my other hand used to be needed to get to them.

In some cases (Calendar and Fitness) widgets have replaced the app itself on my Home screen; tapping the widget gets you to the same place in the app, so moving those apps to the App Library and reducing clutter has been very satisfying.

App Library

I’ve never really liked folders on the Home screen. I can see why Apple took until iOS 4 to add them: they’re fiddly and ugly, but they’re very functional. iOS was a worse place without them, but that doesn’t mean I have to like them!

For years I’ve kept apps in folders:

  • Apps like Starbucks, Caffe Nero, Greggs and Costa, that I only need for their card in the Wallet app
  • Social networks that are convenient to have but are better buried out of the way, like LinkedIn
  • Apple apps that I don’t use directly but need their functionality to access from other places, for example Calculator from Control Centre, and some family members’ locations from iMessage
  • Seldom used apps like Measure, Apple Store, Feed Wrangler
  • Apps I keep on my phone just in case, but mainly use on other platforms, like Numbers, Apple TV and BBC iPlayer

But with the App Library, I’ve moved all of these apps away from the Home screen and can now happily report I have no more folders!

Back Tap

I’ve set Back Tap up and it’s working just as I’d hoped. I like it a lot!

This one came from nowhere! It has always been a bit hit and miss using emojis with Predictive emoji on Apple’s keyboard: type a word and hope that it appears as one of the three emoji replacement suggestions.

Now, the emoji keyboard has a search input just above it. Start typing and you get six emojis matching your search keyword. Is the emoji you were after not there? Just scroll to the right to see more. A proper search.

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