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    Apple iOS 14: discover the main new features in our hands-on

    Apple iOS 14: discover the main new features in our hands-onComment (64)

    Apple did not wait for the presentation and the release of its iPhone 12 to offer its iOS 14. The new version of the iPhone software is already available and compatible until the first iPhone SE of 2016.

    Apple presented its Apple Watch and its new iPads during a keynote on September 15, 2020. For the next iPhones, it will be necessary to wait until next month – according to rumors. However, Tim Cook briefly announced that the new versions of the OS would be available the day after the conference, namely September 16. It is therefore possible to install iOS 14 on your iPhone even though the new models have not yet been officially unveiled. A quick tour of the owner to assess the changes made compared to iOS 13.

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    Overall, iOS 14 is just an evolution of iOS 13. The interface design doesn't really change and just benefits from a few additions; the main ones being of course the widgets, these blocks to be placed on the home page. They do not constitute a real novelty, however, since they were already present in the Today View (or Display of the day, in Spanish), a specific page introduced with iOS 12, which is accessed by sliding to the left from the 'lock Screen.

    Today View and its widgets in iOS 13 on the left; the new version with iOS 14 on the right.

    The update to iOS 14 allows them to be taken out of this specific space to be placed among the applications. The widgets are available in 3 sizes. It is also possible to stack and combine different blocks of widgets rather than placing several on the same page. Scrolling gives access to the information contained in a widget (weather, music, agenda, etc.). A specific widget (Smart Stack or Pile Intelligente in Spanish) groups several according to your needs throughout the day. According to Apple, this process is made possible thanks to machine learning. For example, in the morning when you wake up, this "Smart Stack" will display the headlines of the press; when leaving for work, it will display the journey, then the agenda when approaching an appointment.

    Three widget sizes

    Another app-related addition is the App Library. Basically, these are folders created intelligently and automatically, which group all applications by themes (Games, Entertainment, Social, etc.). The dedicated page is just after the last homepage. Moreover, iOS 14 now allows you to completely delete a page of applications, for example to make room without deleting the apps. They will still be present in the App Library or accessible via the search bar. A handy feature for people with lots of little-used apps.

    Example of widgets on home screen (left), home page removal page (center), Apps Library (right).

    Messages gives pride of place to groups

    The message sending application takes advantage of iOS 14 to offer more features – mainly related to group discussions. Like on message services such as WhatsApp or Messenger, Messages has an option to reply to a given message. Just tap on the message to find the feature (only available with iMessage). After the answer, a thread within a thread appears and you will have to click on it to see it in full. A new convenient option, especially in group conversations.

    To stay on the ground of the groups, iOS 14 now allows you to create a header with the faces of all the participants. Rather practical to navigate when the conversations bring together a large number of protagonists.

    But here's what is probably the most interesting addition to the Messages app: being able to pin conversations! With a simple swipe from right to left, the discussion is placed at the top of the app. A circle with the contact's face or initial then appears. The last message received then appears in a small bubble just above the contact's circle. Convenient for easily finding important or daily conversations.

    Pinned conversations are placed on the top of the app. On the right, a "reply" button appears when you press a message.

    A less intrusive user interface

    Apple's interface has long been criticized for being "intrusive". Thus, receiving a call cuts the app in use, so much so that you have to wait for the end of the ringtone, answer or hang up before you can continue to use the phone.

    With iOS 14, the call interface becomes a simple notification block, just like any information from an application. Everyone is free to ignore the call by swiping up the notification or letting it ring while keeping the current application displayed.

    This future software version also sees the appearance of Picture in Picture (PiP) which allows you to place a video overlay on the screen. The feature has been on the iPad for quite some time now and we were eagerly awaiting its arrival on the iPhone. The size of the video frame can be reduced or enlarged. It is even possible to hide the image on the side of the screen without cutting off the sound. A rather well thought out and very intuitive integration. For now the PiP works with videos on Safari, Netflix and other applications offering video playback. Only YouTube is still resisting this first beta reserved for developers. We will have to wait for another version to find out if the Google service will allow the functionality to be used. FaceTime also allows the use of PiP, which means that you can do other things during a video conversation.

    The size of the PiP is changeable.

    Finally, Siri no longer takes up all the screen space when asked a simple question. The voice assistant appears at the bottom of the screen and no longer opens a request transcription page. When responding, a block appears superimposed at the top of the screen to let us click directly on the requested information. For example, if asked to tell a joke, a block of text appears just above the circle representing the voice assistant. In either case, Siri's responsiveness seems to improve just by deleting a small action that could be daunting.

    New interface for Siri. The orange dot indicates the use of the microphone.

    Privacy, accessibility and small improvements

    Apple is strengthening the privacy component. From now on, a small dot appears above the network bars logo when an application has access to the microphone (orange dot) or the camera (green dot). Developers can also indicate what information they have access to with their application; an option that remains at the discretion of the developers, but refusing it would risk arousing some suspicion among users.

    In the field of accessibility, iOS 14 integrates shortcuts that can be activated simply by tapping the back of the iPhone. A double or triple tap is enough to take a screenshot, activate Siri, mute the sound, etc. In total, 14 shortcuts have been added. Note that the functionality is compatible with the Shortcuts application, which theoretically widens the field of possibilities; like launching the camera, or even third-party apps.
    iOS 14 also marks the arrival of a real-time voice and handwriting translation application. Only 11 languages ​​are supported at the moment, but the app works extremely well.

    Accessibility > Touch" to manage shortcuts."draggable="false">

    Go to "Settings > Accessibility > Touch" to manage shortcuts.

    In terms of small improvements, iOS 14 allows iPhone XS and Xr users to benefit from the interface of recent iPhones, faster capture and reduced delay between each photo shot. The contact sheets have been redesigned. Say goodbye to round icons, make way for rectangles with rounded corners. A standardization that necessarily recalls that of the new widgets. The clock application adds a "sleep" menu in the alarm tab. It allows you to configure your routine. A function that we owe to the presence of sleep tracking on the Apple Watch, which arrived with watchOS 7.

    Obviously, we have only covered the main new features of this iOS 14 here. The software update will bring many more things to iPhones. As usual, some of the new features provided by this version of the software are not yet present or will not be on our territory. Maps, for example, offers a lot of little new features that we would like to see come to us. Unfortunately, the redesign of the application and its mapping introduced with iOS 13 has still not crossed the Atlantic; we will therefore certainly have to wait. App Clips is also not yet available, due to lack of infrastructure.
    Lite versions of apps from the App Store are quite promising since they allow you to use a service without having to download the entire app. Before concluding, note that it is finally possible to choose your default e-mail application, as well as your web browser. It is therefore possible to say goodbye to Safari and Mail.

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    The list of compatible iPhones is quite long. In fact, it starts with the 1st generation iPhone SE. A rather impressive software follow-up from Apple, which offers them the fifth update of its operating system.

    Screenshot @ Apple.

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