On Tuesday, Apple introduced new versions of the Apple Watch and iPad. While we just have to wait a little longer for the iPhone 12, at the end of the event, Tim Cook announced that you can download the latest version of iOS 14 from Wednesday. It's packed with some really great features, and lets you change how you interact with your device in a way we've not seen in a long time.
Of course you might be wondering if you should upgrade. If you have an iPhone 6S or later, or an iPhone SE, you can run iOS 14, but not everyone should be in a hurry to download it.
There is a good reason for that. Last year's launch of iOS 1
The beta versions of iOS 14 had far fewer issues than the previous version, but it is worth mentioning that since developers only had 24-hour notice that the final version was ready to be pushed to phones, it is possible that some of your favorite taps are not updated yet.
Still, there are a few killing productivity features that can get you updating your iPhone right now. Here are my favorites:
Widgets are not new to the iPhone, but they have taken on a much more prominent role in iOS 14. Now, instead of being limited to the widget tray, you can add them to the Home screen . Apple has created some cool options, including a Smart Stack, that lets you swipe through a series of widgets selected based on your activity and what Siri thinks you might like. Other developers will also be able to add these new widgets, but at short notice you may have to wait a little longer for them.
At first I was not sure if I would classify app clips as a productivity tool, but considering that they can save a lot of time and streamline a number of processes, I come around. This is a small version of an app that you do not need to download.
When you place your phone near an item that has Apple's new QR code, it loads instead, making it easy to order food from a vending machine, pay for parking, or rent a bike. All the things that used to be a little less convenient because you had to download an app and create an account – which all took time – just became much more intuitive and fast.
Apple's Messages app has always been the best in its class, at least for mobile messaging. Still, it relies on dedicated communication tools like Slack because it was limited in the features that matter. Now Apple has added some valued features.
The first is the ability to attach important messages to the top of the app. This is a great way to easily access messages with the contacts you communicate with most often without having to scroll through a long list.
The other main area where Messages has improved is group chatting. You can now tag individual recipients, create threaded replies in a group chat, and set your notifications to notify you only when someone has tagged you. I do not think it is likely that Messages will replace Slack anytime soon, but it definitely became much more useful.
The great thing about AirPods is that when you connect them to your iPhone, they automatically pair, via iCloud, to all your devices. The problem is that you still have to connect them manually every time you want to switch between, for example, iPhone and Mac.
With iOS 14, AirPods get smarter, and can automatically switch between devices based on what you do. That way, when you stop listening to a podcast on your iPhone and instead join a Zoom call on your Mac, AirPods will automatically switch audio for you. When you're done, if you decide to take a break and watch Ted Lasso on your iPad, AirPods will follow without having to manually select them on each device.
Finally, Apple will also let you hide apps from the home screens and instead place them in an app library. Android has had this basically forever, and it's been on iOS for a long time. In fact, you can even hide entire home screens. This is perfect for apps you want to keep on your device because you use them occasionally, but preferably do not want to take up space on the home screen. It also helps reduce distraction by staring at a device with hundreds of apps and folders, each of which begs your attention.
If you are ready for iOS 14, I recommend that you first back up your device, either to Mac or iCloud. This protects your data and allows you to recover it in case something goes wrong.