For a few years now, we’ve heard that Apple stored laying aside a giant house display screen overhaul for iOS because it struggled with enhancing its growth course of to cut back the variety of bugs that ship with its large annual releases like iOS 12 or iOS 13.
After these delays, iOS 14 lastly brings that house display screen renovation to fruition. Apple has launched house display screen widgets in a wide range of sizes, given customers new methods to handle their apps, and launched a non-home display screen place to place put in apps.
In case your first response to these options is that they sound rather a lot like Android, you’re not fallacious—however as ordinary, Apple has applied them in its personal approach. So which is best for customers—the lately launched Android 11, or iOS 14, which hit units solely every week later?
Effectively, it was once that Android and iOS have been differentiated by options, and that is nonetheless partly true. However as of late, their philosophies about knowledge assortment, privateness, on vs. off-device processing, and providers are the extra distinct variations.
By introducing some key options Android customers have all the time loved that iOS customers have been lacking out on—like stay house display screen widgets and customized picks for default e mail and browser apps—Apple has additional closed the hole on options, which shifts the comparability much more to the opposite stuff.
We received’t identify each single change right here as we speak, however we’ll get into a complete lot of them whereas spending additional time on among the most vital. We’ll additionally contact on what’s—and sadly, isn’t—on faucet for iPad customers this yr. In whole, there are rather a lot of modifications in iOS 14—it is likely to be one of many largest updates of the previous few years for iPhone software program.
Desk of Contents
From time to time, Apple’s main new OS releases finish assist for units that their predecessors supported. It occurred simply final yr with iOS 13, which dropped assist for the iPhone 5S, the iPad Air, and another units.
Thankfully, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 usually are not amongst these cut-off releases. All units that have been supported by iOS and iPadOS 13 work simply advantageous with iOS 14. Now, there’s all the time the query of efficiency on older units—Apple’s observe report has vastly improved on that entrance in recent times, however there was a stretch when it was a major problem.
Thankfully, efficiency is OK on the lowest-spec supported units. We did a deeper investigation on that final beforehand, so verify that out if you happen to’re working an iPhone 6S or unique iPhone SE.
Efficiency apart, right here’s the record of units which are supported.
Supported iPhone fashions
- iPhone 11
- iPhone 11 Professional and iPhone 11 Professional Max
- iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone X
- iPhone eight and iPhone eight Plus
- iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 6S
- iPhone 6S Plus
- iPhone SE (1st and a pair ofnd era)
Supported iPad fashions
- iPad Professional 12.9-inch (1st, 2nd, threerd, and fourth era)
- iPad Professional 11-inch (1st and a pair ofnd era)
- iPad Professional 10.5-inch
- iPad Professional 9.7-inch
- iPad (5th, 6th, and seventh era)
- iPad mini (fourth and 5th era)
- iPad Air (2nd and threerd era)
Supported iPod fashions
- iPod contact (7th era)
Units used for this overview
The screenshots, data, and impressions for this overview have been based mostly on utilizing iOS and iPadOS 14 beta eight and the ultimate public releases for each. For iOS 14, we used an iPhone X and XS, and for iPadOS 14, we used a 2020 12.9-inch iPad Professional and an Eighth-generation iPad. We didn’t check iOS 14 on an iPod contact.
A complete-new house display screen (form of)
I’m not going to carry again: for years, the house display screen on iOS has been terrible. It’s the worst a part of a largely in any other case nice cell working system.
As of final yr’s iOS 13, the iPhone house display screen offered no clear option to floor data past the mere existence of an app. It provided no interactivity. It didn’t supply sufficient flexibility in spacing or sizing app icons. And worst of all, the home-screen modifying course of—that maddening wobbling icon state of affairs—was stupefyingly painful to make use of. Solely blue shells in Mario Kart video games produce extra pained utterances of swear phrases amongst customers of interactive software program than that dreadful, infuriating wobbling icon mode. For years, this has tormented customers with icons bouncing locations you do not anticipate, disappearing to different pages, wrapping surprisingly, and unintentionally merging into folders each step of the way in which.
Google’s competing Android platform had developed good-enough (however nonetheless removed from excellent) options to lots of these issues years in the past. Even Microsoft’s five-years-defunct Home windows Cellphone (whose untimely demise I nonetheless lament to at the present time) had a extra sensical house display screen than as we speak’s iPhones.
Final yr’s iPadOS replace launched house display screen widgets, a form of pared down, much less versatile model of the identical idea in Android. It was a welcome addition, and it instantly addressed the data surfacing downside I discussed above. Nonetheless, it felt like a half measure, and it didn’t come to iPhones—simply iPads.
This yr, Apple has lastly taken a scalpel to the iPhone’s house display screen to a level it hasn’t because it launched folders again in iOS four—a complete decade in the past. It has completed this by increasing on a few of these concepts from the discharge of iPadOS 13 final yr and adapting them to the iPhone’s smaller display screen.
Does iOS 14 get the house display screen to the place it must be from an organization whose pitch is about ideally suited person expertise? I’m afraid not. But it surely would possibly replace the iPhone house display screen’s grade from a D- to a C or perhaps a B-, and that’s progress.
Let’s begin with probably the most instantly seen new house display screen characteristic, no less than on the iPhone: widgets.
Widgets have been already obtainable in one other kind—the Right now view—in iOS 13. However now you may place them on any house display screen web page in your iPhone, and there’s a number of new performance.
To edit and place widgets, you do an extended press on the house display screen to begin modifying mentioned display screen. From there, you’ll discover a + signal within the top-left nook of the display screen. Faucet that to carry up a panel that means that you can search and browse your obtainable widgets.
This widget gallery has two views. If you first go to, yow will discover a preview of some recommended widgets. You possibly can maintain and drag these to put them on the house display screen of their default measurement, or faucet them to undergo a quick measurement choice dialogue, then place them. Or you may faucet the search discipline and sort the identify of the widget you need. As soon as it seems within the search outcomes, you may faucet it to be offered with some measurement decisions for the widget.
Making a range then drops the widget on your own home display screen, leaving you in edit mode so you may transfer the widget the place you need it. It’s also possible to add widgets, as in iOS 13, to the Right now view that you just entry by swiping proper out of your left-most house display screen web page.
There’s one other main step ahead right here, too: you may create and customise stacks of as much as 10 widgets. These stacks make optimum use of your own home display screen area by placing a number of widgets of your selecting in a single spot; you may simply swipe together with your finger vertically throughout the stack to maneuver between widgets.
Subsequent up, there’s the Sensible Stack. With this stack, it would mechanically rotate by means of the obtainable widgets “all through the day” to point out what you most wish to see at sure occasions. There’s a toggle choice (labeled “Sensible Rotate”) for every stack the place you may allow this good sorting or not.
It’s just like the already present machine-learning-driven characteristic in iOS that exhibits you a handful of timing-specific app solutions on the high of the display screen once you begin a search. Like different widgets and stacks, the Sensible Stack is available in a number of measurement choices. You possibly can add a number of stacks (good or in any other case) to any house display screen web page.
As with regular stacks, you may customise which widgets are included in a Sensible Stack, too, both by way of an modifying panel or by dragging widgets onto the stack on the house display screen.
The Maps widget is nearly ineffective. It saves you a single faucet for searches by letting you open the app straight to a search discipline, but it surely’s not a stay map on the house display screen. It is mainly only a big icon that exhibits your present location—as if there was any doubt, most often. The 2×2 model doesn’t even provide the fast search profit.
Apple has made its personal widgets for a complete bunch of apps, from Maps to Pictures to Music to Shares. Some—like Climate, Notes, or a widget that exhibits you the battery degree of all of your Apple units—are fairly helpful. Others, like Maps, don’t have an apparent use case.
It’s finally good to see these choices launched on this replace. In the very best examples, they clear up iOS’ downside of forcing you to bounce always between apps to see any data—however not one of the widgets that have been obtainable whereas we examined this provided a lot, if any, precise performance.
It’s not doable to declare a last verdict on widgets in iOS till we’ve seen assist from third-party app builders, although.
Developer adoption and creativity, together with the pliability and ease of use of the API, will probably be largely accountable for how helpful (or ineffective) these widgets will probably be. As is already the case with varied different developer-accessible locations within the OS—notifications, Siri Shortcuts, haptic contact contextual menus—most will in all probability be pointless, however a number of would possibly find yourself being main boons for customers of sure apps.
Most of Apple’s personal widgets usually are not that helpful, in my expertise thus far, however the firm has given third-party builders the instruments essential to make some actually highly effective issues.
Trying on the observe report of these different examples like notifications, it’s a combined bag. That mentioned, since this implementation is comparable in some respects to how Android has completed it for years, there could also be a good bit of prior data and expertise that can go into making these widgets helpful rapidly from builders which have labored on each platforms—although there are definitely variations underneath the hood between how Android and iOS widgets work.
If builders make nice use of widgets, they deal with some frequent complaints concerning the house display screen—however not all. Fortunately, Apple launched one other main characteristic—the App Library—to reply a number of problems with a unique nature.