Perhaps one of the biggest - and most exciting - iOS updates for a few years, iOS 14 brings some major changes to iPhone. From a fresh new look courtesy of Widgets, to the innovative Picture in Picture and a revamped Apple Maps, there's a lot to explore.

Whether you've just picked up a new iPhone, or you're thinking about hitting the update button, we'll run you through the best iOS 14 features below.

Widgets and Smart Stacks

Before iOS 14, Widgets could be found exclusively on the Today View page. With the iOS 14 update, you can now add them directly to your home screen - giving you more freedom to customise your device.

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There are plenty of pre-loaded Widgets available from Apple, but you can also download apps from the App Store for even more options. To add Apple Widgets like Weather, Calendar and more, just tap and hold down any app on your home screen. When a pop-up menu appears, select Edit Home Screen then press the + icon located in the top-left corner. Browse through the available widgets, and select a size that suits you and tap Add Widget. From here, you can drag and drop the Widget wherever you please - and important information will be available at a glance.

From the Widget screen, you can also create Smart Stacks. Helping you to make the most out of the space available on your screen, Smart Stacks let you add multiple Widgets to the same space. You can flick through them yourself or choose when your iPhone displays each one.

Customise App Icons

If customisation is important to you, then you'll love this new iOS 14 feature. Alongside adding Widgets (either those pre-loaded by Apple or from a third-party app), you can now customise individual app icons.

Extend your theme beyond your background, and assign new icon images to apps like Mail, Facebook and Instagram. Change the colour and style of the original logo, or go for something completely different - it's up to you. Changing an App icon is simple to do; just save the images you want to use to your device and then head to the Shortcuts app to begin.

Once you've launched Shortcuts, tap on the + icon located on the top right. Select Add Action and then type in Open App into the search bar. Select it, hit Choose and pick the app you want to change. Label your new shortcut, tap Add to Home Screen then hit Choose Photo.

App Library

Until iOS 14, an icon would be added to your home screen for every app installed on your iPhone. If you like to have plenty of apps available on your device, things could easily get a little cluttered.

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Now, there's no need to hide your lesser used apps from view on new pages or in folders. Apple's new App Library will show you every single app installed on your iPhone; meaning you can remove icons for apps you don't gravitate towards as often from your home screen. Even better, App Library is searchable and will also automatically organised your apps into categories such as Recently Added, Entertainment, Social and Games.

To access App Library, just keep swiping left. It can be found on the last page of your home screen.

Picture in Picture

Continue watching your favourite Netflix show while you reply to an email, or keep chatting to friends on FaceTime while you pull up your Calendar with Picture in Picture. The perfect solution for multitaskers, Apple has made it easier to effortlessly use multiple apps at the same time.

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You won't even have to do anything to set the feature up. Once iOS 14 is running on your iPhone, Picture in Picture so start working automatically. If you run into any problems, simply head to Settings > General > Picture in Picture and make sure the toggle for Start PiP Automatically is switched on.

Compact Calls

Another new interface update, Compact Calls changes the way you receive calls on your iPhone. Previously, incoming calls would pop up and take over the full screen. If you were too busy to pick up, but didn't want to decline the call, you'd have to wait until the call stopped to continue whatever you were doing on your device.

comapct-call

Now, calls will appear in a handy banner at the top of the display. Hit the red or green button to decline or answer, or swipe to mute. If you answer, you'll still be able to use your device like normal. If you decide to answer after silencing, simply press the small green phone icon that will appear on the top-left to say hello.

New features for iMessage

iOS 14 has plenty in store for iMessage too. There are a number of new features to discover, helping you to stay connected to the people that matter the most.

Pinned Conversations, for example, will let you organise current conversations and keep important ones at top of your iMessage list. Meanwhile, whenever you're in a group conversation you can make sure the right people always see your response by using Mentions. Just type in the name of the person you're directing the message to, and it'll notify them.

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On a similar note, inline replies help you to respond to a specific message in a group chat. Particularly useful if you've been busy all day and there's something you need to respond to, but the conversation has moved on, you can select a specific message to reply to. Even better, you'll be able to see all the other responses to the same message in a separate thread.

Introducing the Translate App

Connect with others, all over the world, with some help from Apple's new Translate app. Designed to work with 11 different languages, including Spanish, French, Chinese and Japanese, figuring out how to speak in a tongue you're not familiar with is now easier than ever with iPhone.

translate

Turn your iPhone into landscape to activate Conversation Mode. Just tap the microphone to say something, and you'll instantly see the equivalent in your chosen language. On-device mode, however, should be your go-to if you're offline. You can use all the app's features with any of your downloaded languages.

Updates to Apple Maps

Electric vehicle owners will be pleased to hear that they can now find routes that include charging points. Maps will purposely include a number of charging points on your journey, making it easier for you to get from A to B. If you're planning a particularly long journey, this new feature is sure to make things so much easier.

maps

Cyclists can now find bike-friendly routes too. Select the bike icon, and your directions will take bike lanes and elevation into account, warning you if an unexpectedly steep section is coming up. You'll also get alerts to dismount when necessary, and you can choose routes that purposely avoid stairs for a smoother journey. The feature will be available in LA, New York, San Francisco Bay Area, Shanghai and Beijing first, with plenty more locations coming soon.

And that's not all – there are plenty of new updates to discover with iOS 14. Siri knows 20x more facts than three years ago, there are improvements to CarPlay and Safari is quicker, and more intelligent, than ever.

Experience iOS 14 for yourself, and get your hands on the all-new iPhone 12 series, or pick up iPhone 11 or iPhone SE here at Mobiles.co.uk.