Home / iPhone / iOS 14.4's best iPhone features: 17 things you'll use every day – CNET

iOS 14.4's best iPhone features: 17 things you'll use every day – CNET


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iOS 14 changes the iPhone’s home screen. 


Patrick Holland/CNET

Apple continues to update its iOS 14 software for the iPhone ($900 at Boost Mobile), adding valuable new capabilities and features. Most recently, Apple released iOS 14.4, adding a new workout to Fitness Plus for Apple Watch owners. It also included a new Unity watch face to celebrate Black History Month. The update also included a series of security fixes for vulnerabilities that were actively being exploited. Yikes. 

The update follows the addition of Apple ProRaw photos to the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. Those new features join an already impressive list of capabilities that Apple brought to its mobile devices with the release of iOS 14 in September. 

For example, you can personalize your iPhone’s home screen by creating custom app icons and placing new widgets wherever you want. And a new Scribble feature in the iPad update now lets you use the Apple Pencil ($125 at Amazon) to write in any text field, and the tablet will convert it to text, instead of always pulling up the keyboard. And that’s just the beginning. 

Here are the best tips and tricks we’ve discovered for iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. We’ll frequently update this post, so check back for more fantastic tips. 

Read more: How to install iOS 14 and iPadOS 14

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App Library is the iPhone’s new app drawer. 


Jason Cipriani/CNET

1. Check out the new home screen features

The iPhone now has an app drawer-like feature called App Library, which acts as a warehouse to store all of the apps you don’t regularly use. You can access the App Library by swiping from right to left on your screen past all of your current home screens. Another first for the iPhone is the ability to place widgets on the home screen. Apple provided developers with the tools to create a new style of widget that’s sure to make your Android friends jealous. We go into more detail about the home screen changes here

2. Create a custom Smart Stack widget

Speaking of widgets, you’re not locked into using Apple’s curated Smart Stack widget. You can create your own stack of widgets using the same technique you’d use to create an app folder. Seriously, it takes longer to decide which widgets you can include than it does to create it. 

Just keep stacking widgets until you’re happy. 


Animated image by Jason Cipriani/CNET

3. Make your own app icons

Apple also added new features to its Shortcuts app, with the most popular addition being the ability to create your own app icons and fully customize the look of your phone. So instead of the Apple Mail app icon, you can download an icon that replaces it with a picture of a cute cat or the Gmail icon and use that to launch the app. The process is somewhat tedious, but if you want a home screen that’s unlike any other, it’s well worth your time. 

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Custom icons are all the rage right now. 


CNET

4. Use apps without installing them, thanks to App Clips

Think of App Clips as miniature apps that only show you a portion of what the full app can do. For example, a Yelp App Clip could show you business hours and the menu for a specific restaurant and nothing more. Want to try one? Open the Apple Maps app on your iPhone, search for Panera Bread, tap on a location and then select Order Food. Pretty cool, right? After using an App Clip, you can access it again in the App Library in the recently added folder. 

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iOS 14.3 brings with it ProRaw photo support on the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. Once you enable ProRaw, you’ll see a new “RAW” button on the top right side of the native camera app.


Patrick Holland/CNET

5. iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max can take raw photos

This is surely a feature for photography buffs, but one that will hopefully pique the curiosity of those who are looking to get a bit more out of their iPhone camera. The release of iOS 14.3 adds Apple’s ProRaw photo format, which allows you to take photos using the “raw” photography format, and make changes to it without any image degradation, as is the case when the photo is converted to a JPG (the standard for Apple’s camera app).