iOS 14 transforms your iPhone home screen: How you’ll use it differently now – CNET

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Big changes are coming to your iPhone home screen in iOS 14.


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This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Your iPhone ($699 at Amazon) home screen has looked and worked pretty much the same way for the last 13 years, but all that’s set to change now that Apple has released iOS 14. After you install iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 on a compatible iPhone or iPad, you’ll have more options and features to personalize your home screen than you’ve ever had with iOS before.

Taking cues from core features Android has had for years, Apple has focused much of the iOS 14 update on making the home screen simpler to organize, with more customization options, smarter suggestions and leaner, faster app experiences. The end result is a mobile operating system that does more to get out of your way, giving you faster, more direct access to the information, products and services you use.

We’re going to take a look at the biggest new home screen layout and organization features available in the new operating system, as well as how you’ll use them after you install iOS 14 on your device. (If you want to help ensure a smooth update, be sure to take care of these housekeeping tasks before starting the installation.)

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App Library automatically sorts all your iPhone apps into categories and places the most recently and frequently used apps at the top.


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iOS 14 can help you clear your home screen clutter

Unless you stay on top of it, after a while, apps you download start piling up and eventually your home screen begins to sprawl. App Library cleans that mess up for you — in a roundabout way.

What it is: A home screen page one flick beyond your last home screen page. App Library lists all of your apps in smartly curated category folders that display the most recently or frequently used apps at the top and all your other apps by type.

How you’ll use it: App Library doesn’t reorganize your home screens for you. But it does organize all your apps in a new view so you can quickly find and open them without swiping through page on page. You can also search or scroll by app name.

You can rely on the App Library as much or as little as you want to. If you’d prefer to curate your own app folders like you’ve been doing, the App Library will still be there as the final page of your home screen if you need it. If you want a few customized pages but to use the App Library to quickly find everything else, you can choose which pages to hide and which to display. Or you can go all-in and have nothing except one custom page of apps followed by the App Library.

How to get started: First, you’ll trigger your iPhone’s “jiggle mode” that you use to rearrange apps. Once you’re in that view, you can tap the row of dots at the bottom of the screen and then check or uncheck home screen pages to keep or get rid of them from your typical view. Apps from the pages you uncheck will then be accessible only from inside the App Library, which you’ll get to by swiping right past the last page of your home screen.


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Widgets can be resized and added to home screen

Since their introduction in 2008, iOS widgets have been relegated to the Notification Center or Today View. iOS 14 finally lets you bring them onto your home screen.

What it is: Home screen widgets are large, dynamic “icons” that display live app data like the weather or your daily step count.

How you’ll use them: Instead of opening apps like weather, calendar or fitness tracking apps to see your current data, you’ll be able to see an overview of their core information displayed in a live feed on your home screen. One widget — Smart Stack — lets you curate and flip through several widgets. It will also let you display different widgets at different times of day all from one location on your home screen. So for example, you might see the weather report in the morning, a news widget in the afternoon, your step count in the early evening and wind down mode before bed.

How to get started: You can tap and hold a widget in Today View and move it onto your home screen or, to do more, enter jiggle mode, then tap the + in the upper left corner and choose a widget. From there you can swipe through the three available sizes, then drag and drop the one you want onto your home screen.

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App Clips let you access a few app functions without having to download and install the entire app.


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App Clips: Mini apps you can launch without downloading

Sometimes you need to use an app once or twice, but the last thing you need is another app on your iPhone — App Clips let you access an app without having to download it. If you’ve been the person holding up the line to download and sign up for an app you’ll use once to pay for a parking meter, this is for you. 

What it is: Basic app features, run from a popup window rather than a full app window.

How you’ll use them: If you need to use an app, but know you may not need it again — say, to order to-go food from a restaurant while on vacation — App Clips let you complete transactions and basic tasks without having to download the entire app.

How to get started: App Clips can be triggered a bunch of different ways: A web link, a text message, from inside the Maps app, a QR code or NFC tag. Once you trigger one, you’ll be able to sign in using Sign in With Apple and pay for any transactions using Apple Pay, then back out of the app with no more clutter on your iPhone storage or home screen than you started with.

Once again, Apple doubles down on user privacy with iOS 14, as detailed by CNET’s Alfred Ng here. Wondering whether your current iPhone will support iOS 14? Here’s a list of compatible devices to see if yours is one of them. Wondering when the iPhone 12 might arrive? Here’s our best guesses for an iPhone 12 launch. For a look at Apple’s new subscription bundle, Apple One, here’s our breakdown of the available features and pricing.