After months of beta testing, Apple has finally launched iOS 14 to the public. The new operating system — or systems, if you count iPadOS and WatchOS derivatives — brings a range of new features to the iPhone and iPad, including a revamp of the iOS widgets system, and a new App Library for organizing all of your apps.
iOS 14 isn’t necessarily a complete revamp to iOS, but the changes have generally been well-received in early testing, and most consider it a solid update to last year’s iOS 13. The new operating system is available for all iPhone models back to the iPhone 6s, and iPad models back to the iPad Air 2 and iPad (5th generation).
The changes to widgets and the App Library are really the headline features on iOS 14, and for good reason. Apple is not only bringing widgets to the home screen, but it’s changing how widgets look, act, and feel as well. Widgets are available in three different sizes, can be placed anywhere alongside your apps, and even have some smart features built into them. That said, widgets aren’t interactive on iOS 14 like they were on iOS 13, so you can’t do things like check off reminders or control audio playback.
The other major feature is the App Library, which finally does away with the need for tons of home screens next to each other. With the App Library, you can keep whatever your most-used apps are on the main home screens, then have your phone automatically organize the rest of your apps into special folders to dramatically reduce clutter. Apps are still available in Spotlight, of course, and can be viewed in alphabetical order, too, if you want a complete look at everything installed on your phone.
There are other smaller new features, too. For example, there’s a new Translate app that works offline and allows you to tap the microphone and have what you say automatically translated to another language. Apple has also finally added picture-in-picture mode for multitasking while watching a video. And then there’s App Clips, which are basically small pieces of Apps that can be used on a case-by-case basis for things like paying for parking, browsing a menu for food delivery, using a ride share service, and so on.
Generally speaking, the iOS 14 beta has been a whole lot less buggy than the iOS 13 beta was last year — and hopefully, that will carry over to a much more stable public release. Even after becoming available to the public, iOS 13 wasn’t very stable until iOS 13.1 and iOS 13.2 were released. You can download iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and WatchOS 7 right now — just head to Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
For everything else Apple announced at its Time Flies event Tuesday, check out our full coverage.
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