The iPhone’s software is getting a facelift this year. At its virtual WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) in June, Apple previewed the many upgrades coming to your iPhone in the next version of its mobile operating system, iOS 14. Notably, your home screen could look very different, and the iPhone could become your new set of car keys in a few years’ time.
We’ve collected all the top upgrades you’ll find in iOS 14 when it debuts later this fall, and some small changes too.
How to Download iOS 14
But first, you might be wondering when you’ll be able to try the goodies for yourself. Everyone with an iPhone should get the update in September. However, Apple has also released iOS 14 as a public beta, meaning anyone with an iPhone 6S or newer (that includes the 2016 iPhone SE) can download the beta software and test it.
Neat! However, we strongly recommend you do not install the iOS 14 beta on your iPhone, or at least the first few versions of it. Since it’s software that’s still in development, many features just might not work. Worse, you could run into critical bugs that render your phone useless. It’s safer to wait until the official and final update this autumn. But if you’re curious, we recommend installing the beta on a second phone such as an older (but still supported) iPhone you might have lying around.
Before you install anything, make sure to backup your iPhone (we have a guide that can help!).
To download the beta, you’ll need to head to this webpage and click Sign Up. Register with your Apple ID, then log in. You’ll see an option to Enroll your iOS device. After that, head over to this website via the Safari browser on your iPhone. Download and install the configuration profile, and then head to Settings > General > Software Update and you’ll see an update waiting to be installed.
Now, onto what’s new in iOS 14.
For years, the iPhone home screen has been a grid of app icons that go on for pages and pages. That’s beginning to change. In iOS 14, you can hide pages of apps you don’t use often, and a scroll to the right will let you access your new App Library. It’s quite similar to the app drawer on Android phones, but instead of more icons in an endless vertical stream, apps are grouped into various categories like Social, Productivity, and Entertainment.
The top two categories (which look like big folders) are Suggested and Recent Apps. Suggested Apps uses machine learning to recommend apps you might want to use next, and Recent Apps shows apps you recently used or installed. There’s also a search bar at the top.
Until now, the iPhone’s widgets have been relegated to the Today View on the left of the main screen. Now, you can pull these widgets out and into your home screen (just like on Android) and get alternate sizes for them. This allows you to customize how your phone looks, and quickly access certain functions, like switching music tracks with your music app’s widget. To see all the widgets available with the apps you have installed, there’s a Widget Library. Developers can start making new home screen widgets for their respective apps.