iOS 14 may not be the biggest transformation of iOS we’ve seen, but some of its individual changes really are major – such as the reworked home screen. With iOS 14, Apple finally offers several features that fans have been requesting before each WWDC for years.
Several of the things we’ve asked for in our annual iOS wish list have now come true. Last June, I asked for the things below – which now finally, after years of nagging, are here.
A reworked home screen
Widgets in iOS often work quite well, but in iOS 13 and earlier they’re locked to the Today view, to the left of the home screen. With iOS 14, the Today view remains, but widgets can now also be placed on the home screen.
This is arguably the biggest change Apple has made to the otherwise quite rigid home screen and its regular rows of apps since the iPhone was first launched.
For several years we’ve been asking for widgets that can be placed anywhere, and now it’s finally happening with iOS 14. The rows of app icons are still there, but anyone who wants can now have a home screen that looks completely different, with smart features closer at hand.
It was starting to get tedious, but on almost every year’s wish list for the next version of iOS I have asked for picture-in-picture. Being unable to continue a FaceTime call or video while we look up something else on the phone is simply a bad user experience.
In iOS 13, our video is paused as we leave the app… but in iOS 14 there is extended support for picture-in-picture. Finally! The iPhone screens are large enough to handle a video played over anything else on the screen without major problems.
Phone calls and Siri don’t hog the entire screen
Not many things get to interrupt everything we’re doing onscreen, but incoming calls and Siri requests do just that – in iOS 13 and earlier. In iOS 14, however, a call is displayed as a slightly larger note at the top of the screen, and can be denied, answered or simply ignored.
Siri, on the other hand, appears as a small circle at the bottom of the screen, rather than covering everything.
Of course, this is how it should have been from the beginning, but Apple seems to have been very careful about adding more complex elements to iOS, and for good reason. After all, there are hundreds of millions of iPhone users around the world, and not all of them have much technology experience. It is appropriate to be cautious about major changes.
But it was still high time for this to change. That’s one more thing to tick off the list.
Choose your own default apps
This may seem obvious – of course an iPhone owner in 2020 should be allowed to choose whichever web browser and email app they like. But in iOS 13, the unwary Gmail user who presses a link to an email address gets sent to Apple’s own Mail app, while the unhappy Firefox user who clicks a link is directed to Safari.
In iOS 14, you can choose default apps, in these two areas at least (Craig Federighi has said that mapping apps are on the list for consideration), on your iPhone, just as you can on the Mac. It’s a step in the right direction, even if Apple was initially surprisingly quiet about the change.
So several of our long-time wishes have come true at last. Next year’s wish list for iOS 15 will be a little less repetitive.
For more good news, read 6 brilliant new features iOS 14 brings to your iPhone.
This article originally appeared on Macworld Sweden. Translation by David Price.