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    iOS 14.4’s best features: 17 things you should be using on your iPhone every day

    iOS 14 changes the iPhone’s home screen. 

    Patrick Holland/CNET

    Apple keeps making iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 even better by adding valuable new capabilities and features. Most recently, Apple released iOS 14.4, adding a new workout to Fitness Plus for Apple Watch owners. It also added a new Unity watch face to celebrate Black History Month. The update also included a series of security fixes for vulnerabilities that were actively being exploited. Yikes. 

    iOS 14.4 follows the addition of Apple ProRaw photos to the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. Those new features join an already impressive list of capabilities that Apple brought to its mobile devices with the release of iOS 14 in September. iOS 14.5 is currently available in beta and is shaping up to be a significant update for iPhone owners. 

    For example, you can personalize your iPhone’s home screen by creating custom app icons and placing new widgets wherever you want. And a new Scribble feature in the iPad update now lets you use the Apple Pencil ($125 at Amazon) to write in any text field, and the tablet will convert it to text, instead of always pulling up the keyboard. And that’s just the beginning. 

    Here are the best tips and tricks we’ve discovered for iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. We’ll frequently update this post, so check back for more fantastic tips. 

    Read more: How to install iOS 14 and iPadOS 14


    App Library is the iPhone’s new app drawer. 

    Jason Cipriani/CNET

    1. Check out the new home screen features

    The iPhone now has an app drawer-like feature called App Library, which acts as a warehouse to store all of the apps you don’t regularly use. You can access the App Library by swiping from right to left on your screen past all of your current home screens. Another first for the iPhone is the ability to place widgets on the home screen. Apple provided developers with the tools to create a new style of widget that’s sure to make your Android friends jealous. We go into more detail about the home screen changes here

    2. Create a custom Smart Stack widget

    Speaking of widgets, you’re not locked into using Apple’s curated Smart Stack widget. You can create your own stack of widgets using the same technique you’d use to create an app folder. Seriously, it takes longer to decide which widgets you can include than it does to create it. 

    Just keep stacking widgets until you’re happy. 

    Animated image by Jason Cipriani/CNET

    3. Make your own app icons

    Apple also added new features to its Shortcuts app, with the most popular addition being the ability to create your own app icons and fully customize the look of your phone. So instead of the Apple Mail app icon, you can download an icon that replaces it with a picture of a cute cat or the Gmail icon and use that to launch the app. The process is somewhat tedious, but if you want a home screen that’s unlike any other, it’s well worth your time. 


    Custom icons are all the rage right now. 


    4. Use apps without installing them, thanks to App Clips

    Think of App Clips as miniature apps that only show you a portion of what the full app can do. For example, a Yelp App Clip could show you business hours and the menu for a specific restaurant and nothing more. Want to try one? Open the Apple Maps app on your iPhone, search for Panera Bread, tap on a location and then select Order Food. Pretty cool, right? After using an App Clip, you can access it again in the App Library in the recently added folder. 


    iOS 14.3 brings with it ProRaw photo support on the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. Once you enable ProRaw, you’ll see a new “RAW” button on the top right side of the native camera app.

    Patrick Holland/CNET

    5. iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max can take raw photos

    This is surely a feature for photography buffs, but one that will hopefully pique the curiosity of those who are looking to get a bit more out of their iPhone camera. The release of iOS 14.3 adds Apple’s ProRaw photo format, which allows you to take photos using the “raw” photography format, and make changes to it without any image degradation, as is the case when the photo is converted to a JPG (the standard for Apple’s camera app). 

    For many more details and instructions on where to find the new setting, check out our complete ProRaw guide.


    Apple’s Fitness Plus app is available on the iPhone, iPad and AppleTV. 

    Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

    6. Work out at home with Fitness Plus

    With gyms closed or running at limited capacity, now’s the time to work out at home. Apple’s Fitness Plus service is built directly into your iPhone, iPad ($273 at Amazon) and Apple TV ($180 at Best Buy), and it uses your Apple Watch to track your workout. The guided video workouts are released weekly, with options for all different fitness levels. Read our hands-on with the new service and then let us walk you through everything you need to know to set it up.

    Read more: How Apple’s Fitness Plus solves the Netflix forever-browsing problem


    You can view details of what each session is about, including preview the songs that are included. 

    Jason Cipriani/CNET

    7. Time to take a walk

    Speaking of Fitness Plus, iOS 14.4 and WatchOS 7.3 added a new workout called Time to Walk. Apple has enlisted celebrities who go on a virtual walk with you, telling stories that are meant to be inspiring, intertwined with personal music choices. You’ll need to install updates on your watch and phone before you can use it. Here’s how to set up and use the new workout.  

    8. Picture-in-Picture comes to the iPhone

    You’re no longer forced to decide whether you want to watch a Twitch stream or browse Reddit on your iPhone. With iOS 14, you can do both at the same time now that Apple has added picture-in-picture mode to the iPhone. The iPad has had this feature for a couple of years now, so it’s nice to see the iPhone get it as well. When you start watching a video you only need to leave the app and go back to the home screen to trigger PiP. There are some apps, like YouTube, that don’t support the feature. You can view a list of all the apps installed on your phone that support it by going to Settings > General > Picture in Picture. Read more about picture-in-picture to get a better idea of when and where it works. 


    Picture-in-picture is incredibly useful. 

    Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

    9. Deleting apps can be confusing now

    With the addition of the App Library, there’s now an extra step when it comes to deleting an app from your phone and for long-time iPhone users, it’s not at all straightforward. But it doesn’t have to be too confusing; we walk you through the new steps

    10. Ditch Apple Mail and Safari

    Apple added the ability to delete its own apps from your iPhone a few years ago, but you still couldn’t set apps like Gmail or Outlook as your default email app. Now you can, but Apple has limited this new feature to only the email and web browsers. It only takes a few taps to make the change, after which you won’t have to deal with Apple’s apps ever again. 


    It’s true, you can set some default apps on iOS 14. 

    Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

    11. AirPods Pro has a new audio feature

    The iPhone and iPad aren’t the only devices that received a big update. Apple’s AirPods Pro also got a small firmware update that added a new feature called Spatial Audio. You’ll, of course, need to use an iPhone or iPad running iOS 14 to use the feature. With both devices updated, whenever you’re watching a video the sound will follow the movements of your head, adjusting with each twist and turn. CNET’s David Carnoy described it as an “out-of-bud experience.” And he’s not wrong. 

    12. The iPad looks more like a Mac than ever

    iPadOS 14 includes several new features and enhancements that bring its interface closer to looking and working like a Mac. Or is it the Mac that’s starting to look like an iPad with MacOS Big Sur? Either way, you’ll want to learn all you can about the new iPad features in iPadOS 14


    Can’t find that emoji you need? Search for it. 

    Jason Cipriani/CNET

    13. Hidden features are the best features

    Not to be left out, there are several hidden features in iOS 14 that do some truly amazing things. For instance, a new back tap feature lets you tap on the back of your phone two or three times, triggering a task like taking a screenshot or launching an app. We’ve found a total of nine hidden features worth sharing with you so far and plan to keep adding to the list. 

    14. New privacy features 

    Keeping your information private is one of Apple’s main marketing points, and iOS 14 is going even further to help keep your information private. There are new location sharing settings that will limit whether an app sees your exact location or a more general area. There’s also a new notification dot that will tell you when an app is using your phone’s camera or mic, and finer controls over which photos an app has access to. Check out all of the new privacy features and how to use them.


    You don’t have to tell apps exactly where you are if you don’t want to. 

    Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

    15. New camera tricks 

    There are several subtle but important new features in the Camera app. For example, when taking a photo at night, there’s a new guide to remind you to keep still. You’ll see crosshairs that show you where to keep the camera. There’s also a new exposure adjustment dial, and you can snap multiple photos much quicker. Learn how to use and where to find the new features, complete with animated images. 

    iOS 14 makes it so you can take consecutive photos faster. There’s less time from one photo to another.

    Patrick Holland/CNET

    16. Up your selfie game

    Another new feature in the Camera app is a new setting for the front-facing camera that is sure to help your selfies shine. The new mirror mode forces the camera to act more like a, well, mirror, which can make it easier to make sure your shot is framed and lined up the way you want. We show you where to find the new setting

    17. Still want more? We gotcha

    As a bonus round, we’ve compiled a few more tips to do even more, like tag someone in a group conversation in the Messages app and use Apple’s new Translate app to carry a conversation in two completely different languages. We walk you through those two tips, plus a few more of our favorite features

    There’s still plenty more to learn and figure out in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, so we’re just getting started. Just getting started with a new iPhone 12? Here’s how to set it up. After that’s done, be sure to check these settings. Finally, don’t forget to transfer your Google Authenticator accounts to your new phone. 

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