iOS 14: Tips, tricks, guides, and more

iOS 14 FAQ: Everything you need to know about the big iPhone update

Apple's big iOS update will change the way you use your iPhone.

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With it, you can use NFC to unlock your car and start it, and can share limited digital car keys with others through Messages (including keys with specific driver profiles). You can also easily remove keys from your phone should it get lost or stolen, or revoke “borrowed” keys send to friends or family.

You’ll need a new car to take advantage of this: BMW and Ford are on board, with other auto makers on the way. 

It is unclear if this is based on the Digital Key 2.0 standard agreed to by the Car Connectivity Consortium (of which Apple, BMW, and Ford are all members) or something new. Apple says it is working with standards bodies to bring this to additional cars.

Music app

There is a new Listen Now home tab that has been redesigned to make music discovery easier. It puts all your favorite music up front, and makes intelligent suggestions that update as it learns more about you.

The Library view and Search have a few organizational improvements, too.

Taking a page from Spotify, Apple Music will now keep playing music once it has reached the end of a song or playlist. It finds similar music and just keeps going. 

Weather app

The weather app has gone through a small visual tweak, and though it is still using data from The Weather Channel, it is also starting to incorporate data from Apple’s acquisition of Dark Sky.

In the U.S., you’ll see a next-hour precipitation chart showing the intensity of rain or snow over the next hour, minute by minute. The Weather app also displays severe weather alerts from government agencies in some countries, too. 

The new Weather widget is completely redesigned, and will warn you when the next day is going to have a big shift in weather: much higher or lower temperature, or a lot more precipitation.

AirPods improvements

If you have AirPods, you’ll love Apple’s new operating systems. AirPods will automatically switch between devices running iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and macOS Big Sur. 

ios14 airpods spacial Apple

Spatial audio is coming to AirPods Pro.

If you have AirPods Pro, you’ll be treated to new virtualized spatial audio for any source encoded in 5.1, 7.1, or Dolby Atmos. Apple uses motion detection to compare the movement of your head to the movement of your portable device in order to make sure the sound always stays oriented toward the screen, not to the way your head is facing.

A new accessibility feature called Headphone Accommodations will amplify soft sounds and adjust certain frequencies for an individual’s hearing, to help music, movies, phone calls, and podcasts sound better.

Compact incoming calls

ios14 call interface Apple

Incoming calls no longer take over your entire screen.

Many of the iOS features that used to take over the entire screen have been collapsed into small, compact notification pop-ups. There’s the picture-in-picture mode of course, and the way Siri delivers many results in a small pop-up window instead of a full screen takeover.

But the most appreciated bit of new compact interface is probably the incoming calls screen. Whether a voice call, FaceTime call, or VOIP app like Skype, incoming calls now show up as a small dropdown notification that you can simply swipe away to ignore.

Refined universal search

On both iPhone and iPad, Apple has combined search into a single, universal search that works across and within apps and the web.

Just drag down on the home screen to bring up the search interface, just as Spotlight has always worked. You’ll see Siri suggestions before you start to type anything. 

Just start typing anything you want to search for, and you’ll get an instantly-updated list: A matching app can be launched just by hitting “go” on the keyboard, but you’ll also see search results from your contacts, maps, mail, messages, files, and suggested web searches.

Those who like a “search first” experience to navigation will find the unified search in iOS 14 a lot more capable.

Small app updates

Scattered among all the big updates to iOS 14 are a number of small tweaks to existing apps.

The Notes app gets Top Hits to help you filter down search results and the ability to recognize drawn shapes and re-draw them for you.

Reminders lets you assign reminders to other people you’re sharing a list with, and they’ll be reminded with a notification. Perfect for chores lists.

Voice memos supports folders, with smart folders for memos created on Apple Watch, recently deleted, and favorites. Did I mention you can mark favorites now? And a new Enhance Recording button automatically removes background noise and echo.

The Files app gains the ability to access APFS encrypted drives. 

The Health app gets a bunch of new Sleep features related to the updates in watchOS 7. The Wind Down feature should be especially useful.

The Photos app doesn’t get any major new features, but has refined navigation and sorting options, and generates better Memories. Plus, you can add captions to images and they sync to iCloud along with the photo.

When will iOS 14 be released?

Apple will release iOS 14 to the public on Wednesday, September 16, 2020. Beta testers will have access to the final version the day before.

Supported iPhones

If your iPhone can run iOS 13, it’ll run iOS 14. Some older phones may not get some of the latest features (like certain Camera improvements), but almost everything will work across devices. Here’s the list of supported iPhones:

  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE (1st generation)
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation)
  • iPod touch (7th generation)

How to get iOS 14

Once iOS 14 is released on September 16, Apple will begin sending notifications to users, prompting them to make the update. That can take quite a while, though, and there's no need to wait for it. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Software Update.

Follow the prompts to install and reboot your phone, and you've got iOS 14!

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