Major updates to iOS 14 and iPadOS are how Apple keeps everything ship-shape. With us all regularly upgraded we don’t suffer any problematic issues for too long. The latest big update has brought with it many bragged about features and also enables one or two things you may not know about.

iOS 14.5 is currently in beta mode but will be bringing with it an all-important security update for our pandemic-centered lives. 14,5 will allow users to unlock their iPhone conveniently without FaceID. A much-needed tweak given that the majority of us are masking up for protection and prevention in the fight against Covid19. 

Although it is not officially released there are still plenty of hidden gems that came as part of the 14.4 updates that many users are unaware of. Comparatively, it was a relatively small dump aimed largely at fixing a few security bugs and enabling Apple’s new Fitness Plus software compatibility. But there are a number of changes so far with the iOS 14 update in general worth pointing out for those who don’t already know.

Home screen interfacing has been given a major do-over. Users can now add widgets, hide unwanted apps and even create their own icons.

Things like this undoubtedly enrich the user-experience but some enhancements take a little more work to find but make great tricks. For instance, as Jason Cipriani mentions in his cnet write-up you can now ditch Apple Mail and Safari and finally keep some of your private photos well and truly hidden.

Read further to learn about 13 of the best features of iOS 14.4 you might have not known about. 

More control over your defaults 

Finally, we get a little more control over some of our defaults. The iOS 14 update allows users to forgo the traditional Apple mail and Safari browser selection. Now you can assign Chrome as your go-to browser instead and let Outlook handle your emailing needs. It may become available to veto other defaults in the future but for the time being, it is just your browser and emails that you can overrule. 

Not all apps are quite ready, some developers are yet to update their apps for iOS 14. Until they do the new default assignment option for them will not appear, but it is only a matter of time. 

For the start, go to your iPhone or iPad’s Settings app and scroll down to the bottom. There you’ll see a list of all of your installed apps. Over there, find the mail or browser app you’re looking for and tap on it. If it’s been updated for iOS 14, you’ll see either Default Browser App or Default Email App; tap it and then select your preferred app. 

Currently, the new and much appreciated ‘default’ toggle is available on Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Outlook, and Hey email.

Privacy reports galore

We are all constantly being tagged with ad trackers and bombarded because of our web activity. Thanks to the iOS 14 update you can use Safari to find out just how many trackers are lurking on any given webpage.

Go to the Safari browser on your iPhone or iPad and visit any website. After that, tap on the Aa button in the address field that is on the top of your screen. At the bottom of the options, there is a new Privacy Report. Just below the label, you’ll see the number of trackers that are actively being blocked by Safari from tracking you. 

You can also get a detailed 30-day log of just what Safari has blocked for you by Tapping the Privacy Report button as well. 

You might be surprised to learn how prominent they are online and how many you typically encounter from page to page. The majority of websites now utilize them.

Hide app home screens

iPhone home screen
The home screen on your iPhone is now a lot more customizable. Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The iOS 14 update came with a new App Library. It is essentially an app storage drawer, that lets you stash apps that you don’t frequently open but still may need from time to time. This is great given all the new customization the latest updates give users in terms of their home screen. You can hide entire home screen panels with ease. So it isn’t a long-winded process of sorting them individually. 

All you need is a long-press on an empty home screen area. This will trigger the editing mode. By tapping the page indicator you can select the checkmark below any panel you want to get rid of. They will then move to your App Library, which you can access whenever you like. So they aren’t deleted just hidden from your day-to-day view.

Newly downloaded apps spoiling your home screen?

Speaking of keeping your home screen uncluttered via the App library and customization… Why bother if a newly downloaded app is just going to ruin your hard work? 

Thankfully, you can now make a new app go directly to your App library giving you the choice of whether to add it as a new staple to your home page or not.

Gp to Settings > Home Screen and select App Library Only in the top section. After that, you can easily find recently downloaded apps in the App Library’s Recently Added category, which should be the top-right folder when you view it. 

Better photos with ProRaw

The 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max now benefit from Apple’s ProRaw picture formatting. It is no secret that the new raw photo format makes a huge difference to your overall shots giving users better editing capabilities. It is exclusive to those particular Phone models, but some people aren’t aware that without the 14.3 updates or without ensuring it is actively enabled they aren’t reaping the rewards in their photographic endeavors.

Here’s how; First of all make sure you have installed the latest update Next you need to go to Settings to turn on ProRaw in the Camera app. Under settings find > Camera then Formats look for Apple ProRAW and slide the switch into the On position. 

Once you have done this you should now see a new toggle labeled “RAW” near the top of the screen within your Camera app. If it is disabled you will see a strike-through, in which case your phone will take a regular jpg file. With no line struck-through it; you are now capturing photos in ProRaw format. Simple?

Emoji keyboard search bar- hurrah!

Emoji search bar
Can’t find that emoji you need? Search for it. Jason Cipriani/CNET

Not a huge update, but definitely a game-changer. Finally, the emoji picker has its own search bar, a feature we were all looking for. No more endless scrolling to find the face you are making. 

Best of all it is an automatic setting. You simply launch your emoji keyboard as normal and you will see the new addition at the top of the keyboard. 

View your data collection

Privacy mode
Privacy nutrition labels give you a look into how much data an app is collecting. Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

App developers are now required to list any data that they track as part of their app details. So now when you visit the App Store there is an app privacy section. You will find all the info you need fully listed there for you.

The thing is that some apps collect more data than others. So, it might be eye-opening to see just how much information an app developer can collect about its users. Want proof? Check out the app privacy label for Facebook Messenger. Just make sure you tap or click See Details and then start scrolling. 

Now, starting with iOS 14.5, you’ll be asked by each app whether or not you want to allow them to collect this data and therefore use it to serve better ads to you. Still, now you can already start making decisions on whether or not you want to even have apps that collect plenty of information installed on your phone. 

Hidden photos

Hidden photos
Your hidden photo album can actually be hidden now. Cool, right? Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Although not an entirely new concept, hiding photos just got a whole lot better. You could previously ‘sort of’ hide what you wanted to be kept hidden with your iOS and iPadOS however this was merely stored in a Hidden Album. One that was far too easy to find presented in plain sight within your Photos app. Totally defeating the point. 

Now Apple is letting you go one step further hiding the hidden album as well courtesy of your iOS 14 update.

To turn it on go to Settings > Photos and make sure the Hidden Album switch is turned off.  With it enabled you will see your hidden album so make sure you don’t get confused. Of course, all photos will be stored in your iCloud Photos library, but you need to turn your Hidden Album feature on to see any you have tucked away from prying eyes. 

Picture in Picture

The Picture in Picture (PiP) mode that we all enjoy on our iPads is now available on your iPhone. Perfect for watching videos and FaceTiming friends and family during any lockdowns. 

You no longer have to stay in an app to keep the picture window open. You can simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen when you leave the app. The video then automatically shrinks into a floating thumbnail window. Giving you the freedom to multitask. You can move the window where you want it or even hide it completely if needs be whilst still hearing the conversation.

The app version of YouTube doesn’t currently support PiP but there is a workaround. If you watch your YouTube videos in the Safari browser instead of the app and put it into full-screen you can use the same swipe method. It is hit and miss for some video content. If you find it does not work for you try making sure you have the desktop version of the video.

Some users might find the PiP triggering a nuisance. If that is the case then you can deactivate it pretty easily. Just go to Settings > General > Picture in Picture and switch the setting ff off. That way it won’t automatically activate when you leave an app. With it switched off you can still use PiP by tapping the icon displayed on a video.

Fake eye contact

The previous iOS 13 beta, showcased a preliminary fake eye contact feature last year. It must have had a few flaws as it was never released with the official updates. However, it has finally made an appearance in iOS 14. It can be off-putting to see people’s gazes ever so slightly off as most of us look at our screen itself rather than our cameras which are generally located elsewhere. 

The fake eye contact feature subtly adjusts the image to make it seem as though your eyes are looking at your camera. It gives the impression of paying more attention. You can find the feature in your settings under FaceTime > Eye Contact

Back Tap features

Back tap
Tap on the back of your phone to do all kinds of fancy tricks. Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Back Tap is a new trigger feature that makes interfacing a little easier. It essentially gives you a few useful shortcuts. Allowing you to multitask better. It works for your Control Center and for Shortcut launching. All you need to do is to tap the back of your phone 2 or 3 times. 

Go to Settings and find a feature in Accessibility > Touch > Back Tap. Select the number of taps you want to use, and then you’ll see a list of actions you can initiate. 

For instance, use a triple-tap on the back of your phone to take a screenshot or launch Siri

Some users thought it may be too responsive and therefore problematic but most are finding it convenient. The iPhone has obviously been tweaked to interpret the tap patterns from regular bumps. So you don’t have to worry about it accidentally triggering all sorts in your pocket on the go.

Convenient in-app settings navigation

Sometimes when you are navigating through your settings menu you can get lost down a rabbit-hole and end up in the wrong place. Instead of endlessly tapping back to find the start menu you can now use Apple’s latest trick.

The iOS 14 means you can now use the long-press action on the back button to return to wherever you want. It will bring up a list of pages for you as a pop-up and all you have to do is find where you should be.

Scribble with an Apple Pencil

Apple Pencil users are bound to find the new Scribble feature a godsend. If you have ever been interrupted when working by urgent messages and had to keep switching back and forth between stylus and keyboard then Scribble is a game-changer.

The iPad Scribble feature converts all text fields into boxes that you can write directly into with your Apple Pencil. Then it identifies the letters and automatically transforms your handwriting to typed text. 

So you no longer have to down your pencil mid-task to respond to other interruptions. You can answer your iMessages by pulling down the alert while you are in the middle of jotting or doodling your next artwork. There is no need to activate anything at all you just scrawl straight into the quick-reply field and the job is done. 

This is bound to speed up a lot of tasks for anyone who is a heavy Apple Pencil user.

Given that the iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 are free updates and provide so many little added bonuses that make the user experience and operation much smoother, there is no reason not to keep your device regularly updated to reap the rewards. They are easy to install and take a matter of minutes.