iOS 14 first look: Apple tries to do more but still keep things simple

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The fastest — and least destructive — way to clean up your home screen is by disabling entire pages at a time. Long-press an app icon, hit the “edit home screen button,” and tap the series of dots at the bottom of the screen. That’ll bring up your full list of home screen pages, and if you already know you don’t really use some of them, unticking a box hides the page entirely and displays all of its apps in the Library. This might sound like the nuclear option, but it offers one huge advantage: Ticking the box again revives the page as it was, with everything (including those folders) in the right place. And once you’ve got your apps laid out just the way you like them, you can preserve that order by telling iOS to display new apps solely in the Library.

I imagine people will take wildly different approaches with iOS 14’s more flexible design. Some, who either a) don’t care or b) prefer the old way of doing things, don’t have to change their behavior at all. Others will certainly run in the opposite direction, excising their home screens of app icons entirely and going whole-hog on widgets since the Library aptly stores all the software they need. I haven’t really figured out where I sit along that spectrum yet, but if there was ever a time to experiment, it’s now.

Clearing the clutter

The way widgets and the App Library work in tandem is a great example of what seems like a big underlying theme for iOS 14: giving you just what you need, when you need it. They aren’t the only ones, though. Consider the way this update handles phone calls and Siri. Both used to take over the entire screen, interrupting whatever you were doing. Now, they’ve been rightfully relegated to small notifications that appear around the edges of your screen. They’re sufficient for giving you the proper context without pulling you away from the task at hand.

The same even applies to video, of all things. Once an iPad-exclusive feature, iOS 14 brings picture-in-picture to the iPhone, ensuring that you can watch Divorce Italian Style in HBO Max while firing off some work emails. Many major streaming services already play nice with the feature, but since we’re a long way off from iOS 14’s official release, there are still a few notable holdouts. (Here’s looking at you, VRV and YouTube.)

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