mobile

Apple iOS 14 Public Beta: Quick thoughts

Like any other curious being out there, we downloaded the public beta of iOS 14 on our iPhone XR to see what we’re getting into. Here are some of our initial thoughts.

Apple iOS 14.
Apple iOS 14. (HT Tech)

Apple’s iOS 14 in now available as public beta and literally anyone can download it on their eligible iPhones. This means, you can experience all the latest features that will be coming in the stable version later this year. We have already told you how to install the public beta and roll back to the stable version in case you don't like it. 

But in case you plan to keep using iOS 14 beta version, we won’t be surprised. That’s because it is a major upgrade for iPhones this year and includes features that have been missing forever - ones that users really wanted.

Like any other curious being out there, we downloaded the public beta of iOS 14 on our iPhone XR to see what we’re getting into. And here are some of our initial thoughts - 

Apple iOS 14 widgets.
Apple iOS 14 widgets. (HT Tech)

From the looks of it, Apple has kept the UI clean by introducing some obvious elements. The aim is to keep everything in front of the user’s eyes, more than what was there before, which in turn makes it easier to access certain features.

You can finally customise the home screen with widgets, disable pages and access apps that are auto bundled by iOS based on categories. You can even disable an entire app page by long pressing on the home screen. These are nifty and cuts down on the number of swipes you need to find an app and open it.

The new Widgets are helpful here. They do take a considerable amount of space on the home screen but then they show you information up front, without any extra swipes or taps. It may look better on large screen iPhones though. But nonetheless, widgets are here after years and they work seamlessly. You can even customise them by adding info from other apps. Apple calls it ‘Smart Stacks’. Just swipe on the widget box to jump between different app details. You can edit the stacks of course.

Apple iOS 14 Widgets section.
Apple iOS 14 Widgets section. (HT Tech)

At the time of the rollout (later this year), you can expect almost all Apple iOS apps supporting widgets. However, widgets for third party apps completely depend on when they are ready to roll out. 

Another useful element on the home screen is the App Library. This bundles all the apps automatically based on category folders. It was because of this that we were able to reduce the number of home screen pages.

App and other icons have also seen some changes. The most prominent ones were the Clock app and the battery icon on the top corner. The Clock app logo now shows more prominent needles. Even the charging icon that you see when you plug-in your iPhone, is now larger, preventing you from squinting at the screen. The Calendar app logo shows a bolder date with bigger font size for shorter versions of the day (like Tue, Wed) etc instead of full names of the days. And finally, the widgets section has been overhauled making it cleaner and less cramped. This is something that you will likely observe before anything else when you get iOS 14.

Apple iOS 14 camera usage indicator.
Apple iOS 14 camera usage indicator. (HT Tech)

And while the permissions settings have gone more granular for different apps, what’s good to see here is that iOS 14 is also keeping a few things transparent for users. For instance, when the camera app or a third-party app turns on the camera, a small indicator is seen besides the notch, letting you know that the hardware is being used.

Some apps have also received new looks and features. You will see the refreshed Apple Music app design. In particular, the UI change is visible when you open the Listen Now tab from the bottom bar or the Search tab. And when you are playing a song, you can see the background fading to the colour scheme of the album art, something that just adds to the look. Several other changes are visible in the Settings section of the app. This is in addition to the new options that you will see when you long press on a song in a playlist. 

The Messages app gets one of the biggest features – Filters. iOS 14 can finally sort messages using filters and this is something most iPhones users wanted since years. You can even make avatars using new memoji options. This comes in addition to a new Siri animation, which is more prominent and takes a good space on the screen. On the other hand, the call notification doesn’t take the entire screen but a small space on top of the screen. Also, the privacy report option in Safari browser shows you the trackers on a website.

Apple iOS 14 Music app.
Apple iOS 14 Music app. (HT Tech)

There are several other minor changes in other apps as well.

All in all, based on the beta version that we are using right now, iOS 14 seems to have done a good job in improving the cosmetic elements in the UI and apps while giving a lot of features in the back-end to make things more accessible, transparent and simple. 

You will surely see the changes up front as soon as you get the new iOS version. That said, stay tuned for the iOS 14 review that will be out soon when the final, stable version comes out for all.