On the surface, iOS 14 might not look like a massive update that iOS 13 was. However, iOS 14 packs a number of new features that make it an important update, and once you start using it, you will realize the usability improvements they bring to the table. I installed the iOS 14 beta on my iPhone XR to look at how some of the new changes touted by Apple. Here are my first impressions of iOS 14.
The New Home Screen Experience is a Major Usability Win
After iOS 13 was announced by Apple in June last year, I had written about how the update did little to improve the home screen experience. With iOS 14, Apple has delivered on every count related to the home screen experience. Apple has not only added support for widgets but also implemented it in a very impressive manner. I’d go as far as to say that Apple’s widgets implementation in iOS is better than what Android offers and this is despite the latter supporting widgets since almost its inception now. The ability to stack widgets on top of each other and then scroll through them is a great way to have multiple widgets on your home screen without cluttering the entire UI.
I have always felt that the information density of the iOS home screen is on the lower side. Post the addition of widgets, that is no longer the case as I can easily see all my upcoming appointments, calendar entries, AirPods battery status level, and more at a glance. Apple has also made it extremely easy to add new widgets as the app icons will automatically move out of the way when one tries to place a widget on their home screen.
I have never liked a cluttered home screen with multiple app pages. I find that multiple app pages make it difficult to find the app that I am looking for in a hurry. I mostly end up using Spotlight to search for the app that I want to open. In this regard, the new App Library feature and the ability to hide app pages in iOS 14 is a welcome change. I can simply use Spotlight or just go to the App Library page and find the app that I want to open. No need to remember the exact position of the app that I want to open and rapidly swiping through home screen pages to find it. This is again one of those changes in iOS 14 that will bring about a noticeable usability improvement.
Apple Once Again Leads the Industry with its Privacy Features
Apple has had its ‘oops’ moment with privacy and user data but the company has consistently paved the way forward for the industry when it comes to adding privacy-related features. Among a myriad of privacy improvements, one of the features that stood out to me is the ability to only share only selected photos from your photo library with an app. In iOS 13, you have the option of granting or denying an app with access to your photos library. There was no middle way here which is what Apple is introducing in iOS 14 by allowing apps to access only selected photos in your library.
The Beta is Surprisingly Stable
Contrary to the buggy disaster that iOS 13 was even after a couple of months after its release, the first beta of iOS 14 is relatively stable. I am yet to encounter any bugs or major stability issues despite using my iPhone XR heavily for a few hours. Granted, I have not used many third-party apps that are likely going to crash or have some issues. Nonetheless, the initial beta of iOS 14 is in a surprisingly more stable state when compared to iOS 13 last year.
I wouldn’t still recommend installing iOS 14 beta 1 on your iPhone if it is your primary device for several reasons as my experience may not be the same as yours. For example, I don’t use Viber, but some readers have reported that they are having issues with it. If you use Viber frequently then this could be a deal-breaker for you.
If you are still tempted, you can install the iOS 14 beta on your iPhone right away if you wish to.
There a lot of other changes and improvements in iOS 14 that I am yet to play around with. The faster Safari should lead to an even better browsing experience now. I am bummed about the option to change the default email and browser apps in the first beta of iOS 14 though. Here’s hoping that Apple gets around to adding it in a future beta so that we can have a look at how changing default apps will work in iOS.
Have you installed the iOS 14 beta on your iPhone? If so, how has your experience been with it so far? Drop a comment and let us know!