Apple iOS 14: A cheat sheet

Apple unveiled iOS 14 at its WWDC 2020 event. The latest version of iOS will bring many new features and enhancements to iPhone and iPod touch devices later this year.

                    <figure class="image pull-none image-large"><a href="" target="_blank" data-component="modalEnlargeImage" data-headline="&lt;p&gt;&lt;/p&gt;" data-credit="Apple, Inc." rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow"><span class="img aspect-set " style="padding-bottom: 78%"><img src="" class="" alt="ios-14-hero.jpg" width="770"/></span></a><figcaption><p>
                                        Apple, Inc.
                                    </p></figcaption></figure><p>Apple took to the stage at its <a href="" target="_blank" data-absolute="true" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow" data-component="externalLink">Worldwide Developer Conference 2020 (WWDC)</a> on Monday, June 22, 2020 to unveil the latest developer tools and platforms enhancements. Apple also unveiled the 14th iteration of its mobile operating system for iOS devices called iOS 14.  

There are new things in iOS 14 for users and developers alike, including the redesigned Home Screen, App Clips, Car Play features, and more.

What is iOS 14 and will it work on my devices?

iOS is Apple’s mobile operating system that runs on iPhone and iPod touch hardware.

iOS 14 is the newest iteration of the operating system and is capable of running on most hardware that supported iOS 13, including the following Apple devices that are available at the time of this writing:

  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE (1st generation)
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation)
  • iPod touch (7th generation)

What are the key features of iOS 14?

iOS 14 focused on refining the user experience in Apple’s mobile operating system, adding some additional refinements and features to Siri, and making Apps even easier to find and use (even without installing them with App Clips). Below you will find a list of the major features as well as some additional smaller refinements and features.


Apple chose to highlight the changes to the user experience in iOS 14 in their keynote presentation. Among the key changes are Home Screen improvements, improved Widgets in the Today View and the ability to place them on the Home Screen, and the inclusion of Picture-in-Picture video mode on the iPhone for the first time.

Home Screen

On the Home Screen, many users have pages of apps devoted to apps that are rarely used. In iOS 14, you can now easily hide pages of apps except for ones that you explicitly want to be seen.

The App Library features a unique way to look at all of your apps by category and in one place with search to instantly find and launch an app on your device.

Image: Apple, Inc.

There’s also a new App Library feature that sits at the last page of the Home Screen that lets you see all of your apps automatically organized based on category. Tapping into a category folder of the App Library shows all the apps contained in that category. The App Library also allows for searching to quickly launch an app from any category and shows suggested apps based on usage or ones that have been recently installed.


Widgets have long been a feature of the Today View on iOS, but Apple has revamped the way they look and feel in iOS 14. They are now able to be more data rich and can be sized differently and have a custom look and feel for the app they are designed for. More importantly, you can now drag a widget from the Today View and drop it onto the Home Screen to organize it alongside your apps. This will go a long way in helping users make their Home Screens uniquely theirs and has been a feature requested by iOS users for years.

Widgets can be dragged from the Today View and placed inline with app icons on the Home Screen for the first time in iOS 14.

Image: Apple, Inc.

Widgets also support a Smart Stack feature that can be scrolled on the Home Screen or in the Today View to highlight different widgets throughout the day; for example, the Calendar widget might appear in the Smart Stack whenever an upcoming appointment is approaching.


The Picture in Picture (PIP) video mode that has been available on iPad OS for years has now made its way to iPhone in iOS 14. Now you can enter PIP mode on iPhone and leave the video player app and continue watching the video. You can resize the video player PIP window or push it to the side to continue listening to the audio and not view the video.


Apple announced that Siri, the voice assistant on iOS, now processes over 25 billion requests per month. This is a staggering number. Apple is working to make Siri smarter, but also included a new compact design that’s available across all of the Apple platforms.

Compact Design

Siri’s compact mode makes it easy to use Siri unobtrusively from anywhere on your device.

Image: Apple, Inc.

Siri now launches in a smaller bubble at the bottom of the screen instead of taking up the full screen. This means that you can now continue to view the screen while interacting with Siri, instead of having Siri take up the entire screen, blocking your view.

Smarter and with Translation Support

Apple announced that they’re working on making Siri smarter and being able to process even more types of requests. With iOS 14, Siri now has the ability to send audio messages via iMessage and has also been upgraded to allow dictation processing on the device for greater privacy and control. 

The Siri Translate app makes it easy to carry on a conversation with someone speaking a different language.

Image: Apple, Inc.

Apple has also added a conversation feature to Siri through a new Translate app that lets you easily translate multiple languages as you talk with someone in a different language. This feature also works on-device and doesn’t rely on server-based relay, so you can easily translate between languages while traveling without a data plan on your device.


Messages, and particularly the iMessage service, is a huge benefit of being an Apple user. Apple is working to upgrade the Messages app across their platforms, but particularly on iOS, Messages gets a huge bump in iOS 14.


How many times have you opened the Messages app only to not be able to find the conversation with a friend or co-worker that you were looking for? Well, with the new Pinning feature, you can now swipe right on a particular conversation to pin it to the top of the Messages app. You can use this with your favorite coworkers or friends to ensure that you always can find them to quickly create or reply to a message. You can pin up to nine conversations.


Memoji has become extremely popular amongst iOS users and now in iOS 14, you can customize Memoji with over a trillion different customization combinations. They’ve added even more age options, face covering options, and new Memoji sticker options.


Group messages in the Messages app has been completely rethought in iOS 14 and now features in-line replies lets you reply to a message in a thread style display so you can keep on track on a specific topic without interrupting the entire group’s conversation.

Mentions let you directly call out a user in a group message and you can be notified only when you’re directly mentioned in a conversation so that you’re not pinged for every message on the group chat.

Groups can also be customized using a group photo or customize the group logo with an emoji instead.


Apple has been using their own maps since iOS 6 and this year, they’re adding even more features to the Maps app to make it one of the best experiences for users on the platform.

Finding great places

Maps guides can be used to get recommendations for places to visit or try for various destinations on your next trip.

Image: Apple, Inc.

Apple started adding curation options for Maps in iOS 13 with their Maps Collections feature, but they’re taking it a step further in iOS 14 by working with various prestigious brands to create guides for cities or destinations that you can follow to get recommendations for places to visit. 

New ways to get to places

Maps is now providing environmentally-friendly transportation options like the ability to get detailed cycling directions to and from a destination in select cities. This new cycling direction feature gives users access to detailed information about bike lane access on roads, paths with bike access, and will also include incline data and if stairs or heavy traffic might be encountered on the trip. This will be initially available in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Beijing when iOS 14 launches.

Another environmentally green feature that has been added to iOS 14 Maps is the ability to get directions routed for electric vehicles. This will automatically figure in the range using weather, elevation, and current charge to plan out charging stops along the route. It will also take into account your particular vehicle to only show stops that have compatible chargers.


CarPlay is an iOS feature that’s important to many users as it brings the iOS experience into the vehicle in a positive way that allows for inter:action with Siri and well-loved iOS features and apps.

Apple’s CarPlay support has been upgraded with a lot of new features in iOS 14, including the ability to set a custom wallpaper.

Image: Apple, Inc.

Apple announced that CarPlay is available in 80% of the vehicles currently sold. Some new features available in CarPlay is the ability to assign new custom wallpapers to the Home Screen background and new app categories, including apps that support mobile ordering in electric vehicles.

One of the biggest features announced for iOS 14 and CarPlay was the ability to use your iPhone as a key for the vehicle.

Car Keys

You can easily share Car Keys from the wallet app via iMessage and even set restrictions for the key.

Image: Apple, Inc.

Apple is unveiling their new project for CarPlay called Car Keys. The 2021 BMW 5 series will be the first vehicle supported, but more vehicles will be coming later in the year and next year.

Keys are stored in the Secure Element on your iPhone (the same chip that stores Apple Pay and biometric unlock data) and you can remotely disable keys should your iPhone become lost. You can also share keys via iMessage and enable features such as restricted driving profiles for teenagers.

Initially, this feature will work with the NFC chip on the iPhone to allow unlocking when tapping the iPhone on the vehicle, but later vehicle support will include the ability to automatically unlock the vehicle when approaching and lock when walking away using the U1 low-powered wireless chip available on most recent iPhones.

The best part is that you can still use this feature for up to five hours after your iPhone’s battery has died thanks to the Power Reserve feature of iOS that was introduced in iOS 13 for transit cards in the Wallet app.

App Store

The App Store is now 12 years old and new features introduced in iOS 14 will radically change the way that apps are discovered, run, and installed with App Clip.


App Clips are smaller versions of the full app that can be instantly downloaded and launched when the user taps their device on an NFC tap point or scans a QR code.

Image: Apple, Inc.

AppClip is Apple’s answer to being able to use a smaller version of an app to do specific tasks, such as using mobile ordering at a restaurant or bringing up a loyalty card at a store.

App Clips are small apps that can be instantly downloaded and run on the device with little user interaction. Simply tap your device to an NFC tap point or scan a QR code and the app will launch in a card interface at the bottom of the screen. The app will let you do a specific task, such as placing a mobile order, then when done, will disappear and not take up any space on your device.

App Clips can use Apple Pay for payments and take advantage of “Sign in with Apple” for account creation. They only stay on your device as long as you need them, then get removed. In the App Library, you can easily download the full app from an App Clip if you decide you’d like to keep the full app on your device.

Easy to Discover

App Clips can be launched from a website, an iMessage, Maps, NFC tags, and QR codes. There’s also a new Apple-designed App Clip code that has both NFC and camera-based scanning functionality that can be placed at retail locations or other areas to allow quick scanning to open the App Clip.

Apps like Yelp can integrate their own tags using App Clip codes that can be placed at multiple businesses or locations.

How it works

App Clips will use the native iOS SDK and will include a small feature of the full app. The App Clips will need to be 10MB or less so that they can be quickly downloaded to the device and launched quickly. 

Other iOS 14 changes and features

  • The Compact UI of Siri has made its way to the incoming phone call UI and FaceTime UI. Incoming calls will now use a new banner UI instead of taking up the full screen and interrupting your workflow
  • You can now assign default apps for your web browser and email client. If you use an app other than Safari and Mail for web browsing and email, this means that your favorite apps can now be launched in their place when tapping a link or email address
  • Search now has a quick launcher that can more quickly open apps by typing just the first few characters of an app name
  • Siri can now answer questions that require a web search
  • Safari can now translate entire webpages that are in a different language than the iOS user’s default language
  • Safari will automatically monitor your passwords and alert you when a password for a particular website has been involved in a data breach
  • AirPods can now be more seamlessly transitioned from one device to another by automatically switching to the device currently being used.
  • AirPods will automatically notify you whenever the battery is getting low through audio and push notifications on your connected device
  • iOS 14 now features a dot in the status bar of your device whenever the microphone or camera is in use by an app.
  • You can now choose to only share an approximate location with an app instead of your specific location. This will allow your device to provide a larger GPS area than your precise pinpoint location with apps that you don’t trust with your data.
  • Photo access can now be limited with apps and you can choose to share a specific photo, album, or the entire library
  • When downloading an app, the App Store listing will now show exactly which permissions the app will request when you download and install it
  • App Store subscriptions can now be used with the Family Sharing feature if allowed by the developer to allow one IAP Subscription purchase to be shared amongst all family members
  • FaceTime now supports Picture-in-Picture (PIP) mode so that you can leave the app and continue to see someone a floating FaceTime PIP window
  • The Files app now supports APFS-encrypted drive support for connected drives or network storage drives
  • Notes now features shape recognition for drawing lines, arcs, and shapes, including hearts, stars, and arrows. Pause slightly at the end, and your imperfect shape snaps into a perfect one
  • The Weather app now features next-hour precipitation, severe weather alerts for supported areas, and multi-day precipitation forecast

Additional Resources

When will iOS 14 be released?

Apple released a developer beta of the iOS 14 operating system at the conclusion of the WWDC 2020 keynote and developers can install the closed beta from the Apple Developer website.

Apple plans to release iOS 14 in Fall 2020, along with expected new hardware, such as new iPhones as they typically do, though it’s unclear if COVID-19 and the current pandemic situation will change Apple’s hardware release cycle this year.

Apple plans to release a public beta of iOS 14 to non-developer users in July through the AppleSeed program.

Additional Resources

How can I download and install iOS 14?

At the present time, iOS 14 is available in beta form only and can only be installed by registered Apple developers through the Apple Developer Website.

If you have an Apple developer account, you can download iOS 14 by doing the following:

  1. Log in to the Apple Developer Download website on the device you wish to install iOS 14 on.
  2. Select Download beside of the device type that you wish to install iOS 14 on and follow the prompts to install the beta profile (this profile will enable beta software updates on your iOS device).
  3. Once installed, restart the device.
  4. After restarting has completed, navigate to the Settings app | General | Software Updates and allow the device to check for updates. You will see the ability to update to the iOS 14 beta and can complete the update process as you normally would for any iOS update.

Just like in previous years, Apple will also begin offering a staggered release of public betas for non-developers to install on their iOS-compatible devices in July 2020. This is done through the AppleSeed website and you will need to apply for access to the beta program once it’s available. Check back regularly on that website for more information on when the beta program is available.


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