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9 best new iOS 14 hidden features we found for your iPhone



iOS 14 iPhone Widgets Beta

iOS 14 is full of hidden gems; you just have to know where to look.

Óscar Gutiérrez / CNET

Apple’s brand new iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 for iPhone ($ 699 on Amazon) and iPad ($ 284 at Back Market) adds some nice new features like widgets on the home screen, a round of applause of various kinds and integrity improvements. (How to use install iOS 14 and iPad 14 right now, after prepare your phone or tablet, of course.)

All of these features are welcome improvements, but my favorite tricks in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 are the ones you have to work to find. For example, you can now completely ditch Apple Mail and Safari with a new default app setting.

Below I follow how to use nine of the best hidden features I discovered in iOS 14. This list will surely continue to grow, so come back for more jewels.

Set your default email or browser

It’s true, Apple finally gives some control over your standard apps. Right now, the feature is limited to email apps and browsers. For example, you can assign Chrome to be your browser or Outlook as your email app.

App developers need to update their iOS 14 apps for the new assignment option to appear, so you may need to be patient if your favorite app is not ready.

To get started, open your iPhone or iPad Settings app and then scroll down to the bottom where it shows all your installed apps. Find the email or browser app you are looking for and tap it. If it has been updated for iOS 14, you will see some of them Default browser app or Default email app; tap it and then select your desired app.

Right now I know that Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Outlook and Hey emails have been updated to include this new “default” switch.

standard-app-ios-14

True, you can set some default apps on iOS 14.

Screenshot of Jason Cipriani / CNET

Get rid of the app’s home screens quickly

iOS 14’s new app library acts as an applause, so you can ditch countless home screens full of apps that you rarely, if ever, use. Instead of going through each app one by one and sending them to the App Library, you can hide the entire home screen panels with just a few taps.

Long press on an empty area on your home screen to trigger the edit mode. Then click on the page indicator and then tap the check mark under each panel you want to delete. This will not remove these apps, but instead moves them only to the app library, where they are more or less hidden in an app box that you can access at any time.

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The home screen of your iPhone is now much more customizable.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Banish recently downloaded apps from your home screen

You just took all that time to collect your home screens, add widgets and keep only your most important apps, just so that all your hard work will be ruined by a new app that you just downloaded. Instead of letting your iPhone put apps on your home screen after installing them, send them directly to the App Library until they show that they are worthwhile.

Open settings > Home screen and select The app library only in the upper section. You can easily find recently downloaded apps in the app library Recently added category, which should be the upper right folder when you view it.

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Can’t find the emoji you need? Search for it.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Search the emoji keyboard

Finally! Yes, this one deserves a very high – Finally! – you can search the emoji picker for exactly what you want. Launch the emoji keyboard just like you always do and now you will find a search bar at the top of the keyboard.

hidden photos

Your hidden photo album can actually be hidden now. Awesome, right?

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Hidden photos are now actually hidden

The ability to hide specific photos or videos has been around in iOS and iPadOS for a while now, but there was a big problem – these photos you did not want to see anymore were saved in a hidden album in the Photos app which was far too easy to find. With iOS 14, Apple has added the ability to hide the hidden album, so you really hide the photos and videos you want to keep, but don’t want anyone else to see.

Turn it on by going to settings > Photos and make sure that Hidden album the switch is off. Everything you hide in your camera roll will still be saved on your device and in your iCloud Photos library, but you have no way to access it unless you return to this setting and enable the hidden albums feature.

iOS 14 iPhone Widgets Beta

Picture-in-Picture is one of our favorite features for iOS 14.

Óscar Gutiérrez / CNET

Watch YouTube videos in picture-in-picture mode

The iPhone now has one of my favorite features for the iPad: Picture-in-Picture (PiP) mode for watching videos or using during FaceTime calls. This is how it works. Instead of having to stay in an app, such as Twitch, while watching your favorite game player, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to exit the app, and the video automatically shrinks down to a floating window. You can move this thumbnail video around or even hide it outside the screen edge if you just want to listen to the sound.

The YouTube app does not support PiP right now, but you can get around it by first watching a YouTube video in Safari in full screen mode and then swiping up to return to your home screen. The key is that you need to put the video in full screen mode before leaving the app.

If you would rather not trigger PiP when leaving an app, turn off automatic activation by going to settings > General > Picture in picture and turn it off. Then the only time PiP is used is when you tap the icon in a playback video.






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False eye contact in FaceTime

We first saw FaceTime’s eye contact feature appear in iOS 13 beta last year, but in the end it was never released. Well, it’s back in iOS 14. Essentially, your iPhone or iPad makes it look like your eyes are looking directly into the camera, even if you’re staring at the screen.

It’s a subtle feature, but one that will surely make the person at the other end of the conversation feel as if you are paying full attention instead.

Turn it on by going to settings > General > FaceTime > Eye contact.

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Tap on the back of your phone to do all sorts of cool tricks.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Double or triple tap on the back of the phone to trigger actions

A new accessibility feature called Back Tap allows you to trigger system functions, such as multitasking or Control Center, or launch a shortcut just by tapping the back of your iPhone two or three times.

Find the function in settings > Availability > Pipe > Back Tap. Select the number of cranes you want to use and then you will see a list of actions you can initiate.

For example, you can press the back of the phone three times to take a screenshot or start Siri.

When I first read about this feature, I thought it would be too easy to ask for it just by putting my iPhone in my pocket or putting it on my desk. But that has not been the case at all – it is as if the phone is looking for a very specific print pattern before activating it.

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You can use Apple Pencil to type in any text field.

Scott Stein / CNET

Doodles in any text field on your iPad with Apple Pencil

The iPad has a new feature called Scribble. It basically converts all text fields into a box that you can type in, with your own handwriting with one Apple Pencil, and your iPad automatically converts it to written text.

If you’re in the middle of taking notes and getting a new iMessage, you can drag down the alert and use the quick response bar to print your answer and go back to writing notes, all without ever putting down the pen or activating the keyboard.

For those heavy Apple Pencil users, Scribble should speed up many tasks that would normally be slowed down by having to switch between the pen and keyboard.

There is so much more to iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. It is available right now as one free update and it does not take very long to install. Just make sure do some cleaning on your device before installing it to ensure that the process runs smoothly. And do not be surprised if there are any problems with your favorite apps in the first days – Apple surprised everyone, including developers, by releases the update the day after the “Time Flies” event on September 15th.


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