With every update Apple releases for iOS, iPhone gets new features in addition to bug fixes and performance improvements. The release of iOS 14 and iPadOS late last year was supported by subsequent updates, and the current beta version of iOS 14.5 seems to be packed with new features, including the ability to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask using your Apple Watch.
While waiting for iOS 14.5 to be officially released, there is still a lot to discover in the official version, iOS 14.4. This update didn’t include much, it just added a new Fitness Plus workout that got you out and a few security fixes. But there is much more to iOS 14 as a whole. To begin with, Apple has completely changed the way iPhone owners interact with their home screens; including the ability to add widgets to these, a sort of app drawer, and the option to create your own app icons.
These welcome enhancements will definitely enrich your experience, but here are some of our favorite tricks in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. For example, you can now completely remove Apple Mail and Safari with a new default app setting.
Below, we’ll guide you on how to use 13 of the best hidden features we uncovered in iOS 14.4.
Set your default email or web browser
That’s right, Apple is finally giving up some control over your default apps. The feature is currently limited to email applications and web browsers. So, for example, you can assign your browser or Outlook where you will use Chrome as your preferred email application.
App developers will need to update their apps for iOS 14 for the new default assignment option to appear, so you may need to be patient if your favorite app isn’t ready.
To get started, open your iPhone or iPad’s Settings app, and then scroll down to where it lists all your installed apps. Find the mail or browser app you are looking for and tap on it. If updated for iOS 14, you will see Default Browser App or Default Email App; Tap it and then choose your preferred app.
We now know that Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Outlook and email have been updated to include this new “default” transition.
Get a privacy report for every web page you visit
Have you ever wondered how many ad trackers you encounter on any web page or during your entire browsing activity? Now Safari can tell you this.
Open Safari on your iPhone or iPad and visit a website. Any site will work. Tap the Aa button in the address field at the top of your screen. Below the list of options is a new Privacy Report. Just below the label, you will see the number of trackers that are actively blocked by Safari from tracking you. Tap the Privacy Report button to view a more detailed log of 30-day ad trackers where Safari prevents or hides tabs on your browsing habits.
With almost every website and services that use them, you will realize more of how leading ad trackers are online.
Quickly get rid of app home screens
iOS 14’s new App Library works like an app drawer, allowing you to throw off countless home screens full of apps you rarely use. Instead of going through each app individually and sending them to the App Library, you can hide all home screen panels with just a few taps.
Long press on an empty area of your home screen to trigger edit mode. Next, tap the page indicator and then the checkmark under each panel you want to remove. This will not delete those apps, but instead move them to the App Library, where it is more or less hidden in an app drawer that you can only access whenever you want.
Remove newly downloaded apps from your home screen
You’ve spent all that time tidying up your home screens, adding widgets and keeping only your most important apps, ruining all your hard work with a new app you just downloaded. Instead of letting your iPhone put apps on your home screen when you install them, submit them directly to the App Library until they prove valuable.
Open Settings> Home Screen and select App Library Only at the top. You can easily find the most recently downloaded apps in the Recently Added category of the App Library, which should be the top right folder when you view it.
Take better photos with the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max
Apple added a new ProRaw image format to the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max in iOS 14.3. The new raw photo format is exclusive to these two iPhone models, for now, with the ability to edit and improve the overall look of your images in the Photos app.
After installing iOS 14.3, you need to open ProRaw from the Camera app’s settings. Go to Settings> Camera> Formats and slide the switch next to Apple ProRAW to the On position. Ahead, you will see a toggle labeled “RAW” in the Camera app near the top of the screen. Your camera will capture a regular jpg file if there is a line on it. Otherwise, you are shooting photos in ProRaw format.
Search on the emoji keyboard
Finally – yes, this deserves a very loud “END” cry – you can search exactly what you want in the emoji picker. Launch the emoji keyboard as you always do, and you will now find a search bar above the keyboard.
View the data an app has collected about you
If you go to the App Store and look at any app’s entry, you’ll now find an app privacy section by Apple that requires every developer to list all the data they are watching and using to serve ads to you. Some apps collect more data than others, and it’s eye-catching to see how much information an app developer can collect about their users. To see with your eyes, check out the app privacy tag for Facebook Messenger. Make sure you tap or click View Details and then start scrolling. and keep scrolling.
Starting with iOS 14.5, you will be asked by each app if you want to allow them to collect this data and use it to serve you better ads. However, you can immediately start deciding whether you want to have apps that collect large amounts of information on your phone.
Hidden photos are now truly hidden
The ability to hide certain photos or videos has been available on iOS and iPadOS for a while, but there was a big problem – those photos you didn’t want to see were stored in a Secret Album in the remote Photos app, which was easy to find. Apple adds the option to hide the hidden album with iOS 14, allowing you to hide and truly hide photos and videos that we don’t want anyone else to see.
Turn it on by going to Settings> Photos and making sure the Secret Album switch is off. (Yes, off: Enabling the setting means the Hidden Album will show up in the Albums tab.) Anything you hide in your camera roll will continue to be saved to your device and your iCloud Photos library, but there will be no way to get back to this setting unless you turn on the Secret Album feature.
Watch YouTube videos in Picture-in-Picture mode
The iPhone now has one of my favorite iPad features: Picture-in-Picture (PiP) mode for watching videos or using it during FaceTime calls. Instead of having to stay in an app, for example if you’re watching your favorite game streamer on Twitch, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to exit the app and the video will automatically shrink into a floating window. You can move this little video around or hide it from the edge of the screen if you just want to listen to the audio.
The YouTube app doesn’t currently support PiP, but you can get around this by starting watching a YouTube video in full screen mode on Safari and then swiping up to return to your home screen. The important thing is that you have to switch the video to full screen mode before exiting the app. If this doesn’t work for you, try requesting the desktop version of the site before you start watching the video. This workaround might work or be overlooked, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work for a single video. Try it the next time you find yourself listening to a YouTube playlist and you need to use your phone.
If you prefer not to trigger PiP when you exit an app, turn auto-enable and off by going to Settings> General> Picture-in-Picture. After that, the only time the PiP will be used is when you tap the icon on a video that is playing.
Fake eye contact in FaceTime
We first saw FaceTime’s eye contact feature pop up in iOS 13 beta last year, but ultimately it was never released. But, it’s back in iOS 14. Essentially, your iPhone or iPad will make it appear as if your eyes are looking directly at the camera, even when you’re looking at the screen.
This is a subtle feature, but it feels like you are paying full attention to the person on the other end of the call.
Turn it on by going to Settings> FaceTime> Eye Contact.
Tap the back of the phone twice or three times to perform actions
A new accessibility feature called Back Tap makes it possible to trigger system features like multitasking or Control Center, or launch a Shortcut by tapping the back of your iPhone twice or three times.
You can find the feature in Settings> Accessibility> Touch> Back Touch. Choose the number of touches you want to use, then you will see a list of actions you can initiate.
For example, you can triple-tap the back of your phone to take a screenshot or start Siri.
When I first read this feature, I thought it would be very easy to get my iPhone started by putting it in my pocket or on my desk. But that’s not the case at all – the phone seems good at identifying the touch pattern before it is enabled.
An easier way to get back inside an app
When you find yourself deep inside the settings app, wondering how to get there or how many taps it takes to get back to the home page, don’t forget to use this new trick.
Instead of tapping the back button in the upper left corner, long press it to view a list of pages you can return to quickly and easily. When the popup window appears, tap the page you want to go to. Pretty easy, right?
Scribble into any text field on your iPad with Apple Pencil
The iPad has a new feature called Scribble. It basically turns any text field into a box you can write using using an Apple Pencil, and your iPad automatically converts your handwriting to written text.
If you are in the middle of taking notes and get a new iMessage, you can pull down the alert without ever letting go of the Pen and use the quick response area to type your reply and return to writing the note.
For heavy Apple Pencil users, Scribble should speed up many tasks that are normally slowed down when they have to switch between pencil and keyboard.
There’s much more in these updated operating systems. iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 are available as free updates and won’t take long to install. Make sure to do some cleaning on your device before installing to make sure the process goes smoothly.