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Home / Technology / iOS 14 rewind review – a look back at key features [Video]

iOS 14 rewind review – a look back at key features [Video]



As iOS 15 quickly approached, I wanted to take some time to look at my favorite iOS 14 features and examine how they have held up over time. Are there obvious areas for improvement? See our iOS 14 rewind review when we take another look at the software that powers the iPhone, and remember to subscribe 9to5Mac on YouTube for more coverage.

Compact telephone interface

The compact phone interface is something I immediately fell in love with when I first tried it, and it is still one of my favorite iOS 14 features to this day. Incoming phone calls no longer steal focus from the current app or website I̵

7;m looking at, which is a huge improvement over how iOS handled incoming phone calls before iOS 14.

With the compact phone interface, incoming calls are presented as a banner alert at the top of the screen. This design allows you to continue a current task uninterrupted, while deciding how to handle the incoming call.

Long-term verdict: The compact phone interface is a very useful feature, and I can not believe it went over a dozen iOS releases without it. As acknowledged, I sometimes feel that the compact phone interface and iPhone’s proximity sensor are not on the same page, causing occasional problems with accidental touch input. Have you had a similar experience with the compact phone interface? Let me know in the comments.

Video: iOS 14 rewind review

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Select default browser and default email app

The ability to choose a default browser is great for those of you who like to use alternative browsers such as Firefox, Microsoft Edge, DuckDuckGo, Brave, Opera, etc.

In addition to choosing a default browser, iOS 14 also lets users set their preferred email app. As third-party browsers, there is no shortage of third-party email clients for iOS. Some of the popular email clients include Outlook, Gmail, Spark, Airmail and Newton Mail.

Long-term verdict: Standard app functionality was a bit slow out of port, and there were issues with the selected apps going back to stock Mail and the Safari app after rebooting. There was also a problem with “mailto” links not working properly for users who had a default browser set to Safari. Both of these issues were eventually resolved via an iOS update.

In future updates I will see the default app functionality that can be selected directly via the Mail and Safari settings, instead of having to go to the settings of the app you want to set by default. I also want to see Apple remove the confirmation dialog when you press mailto: links that take you to a third-party email app.

These issues aside, the ability to set both standard email and browser apps is a feature that iOS users have complained about having for years, and it is finally possible in iOS 14.

App clips

App clips are light, smaller parts of an app that are instantly available when you need them. With a weight of 10 MB or less, app clips can be downloaded quickly to access parts of an app when you have not already downloaded the primary app. An app clip can allow you to demonstrate the first level of a game, or quickly access the menu and ordering interface while at your favorite restaurant.

You can access app clips directly from a Safari app banner, via QR-style App Clip tags that can also contain an NFC tag, via links in the Messages app and on Place Cards in the Maps app. App Clips also works with Apple Pay, Sign in with Apple and has a handy link to download the entire application.

Long-term verdict: App clips are ideal for use while out, but the COVID-19 pandemic limited the visibility of the feature. When things open up completely, app clips have the potential to increase in popularity.

Related video: iOS 14 top features

Picture in picture

The addition of Picture in Picture is something I have wanted for many years on iOS. Picture in Picture, previously only available on iPhone via a popular jailbreak tweak, was one of the main reasons I always looked forward to jailbreaking my iPhone. Now available by default in iOS 14, Picture in Picture gives you the ability to watch video content while browsing the web, sending text messages, and more.

Watch Spiderman while reading Twitter

Long-term verdict: In the real world, Picture in Picture has been a disappointment to me, but the blame lies with the developers ** cough ** Google ** cough ** who refuses to support it. For example, YouTube TV, my go-to streaming TV app, lacks Picture in Picture support. Even worse, standard YouTube, although capable of using Picture in Picture using solutions, does not really play well with the feature. This is obviously not Apple’s fault, but Google has decided to limit or outright refuse to support Picture in Picture. At the very least, companies like Netflix are doing the right thing.

Improvements to privacy

There are many privacy-centric improvements mentioned in iOS 14, but the following three stand out to me the most:

Approximate site support

Instead of giving an app access to the exact location, users now have the ability to establish an approximate location. This feature protects your privacy by offering a wider location, while still positioning yourself in the general area.

Only access selected images

Instead of giving an app access to your entire photo library, you can now restrict photo sharing to specific photos you choose.

App Privacy Labels

The App Store app privacy label allows users to provide deeper insight into how an app uses your personal data.


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