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Tech tips

10 best new features to try in iOS 14

Tons of new changes rolled out with the new iOS 14. We got widgets, a new app library and a bunch of new privacy and security features with this update, too.

To say that iOS 14 is an upgrade from the old operating system would be an understatement. You can even use Apple Maps to avoid red light cameras and speed traps. This OS rollout was clearly more than just an upgrade. It was a complete overhaul.

But the new iPhone features aren’t limited to widgets and maps. There was a slew of other new features that came with iOS 14, including some cool new upgrades to the default messaging app. If you haven’t found the new features yet, here’s what you can expect to see with the additions to iOS 14.

1. Filter out unknown senders

Spam texts are annoying and distracting, especially if they happen regularly. Most of us were getting unsolicited text messages during the months leading up to the election, but if you’re using iOS 14, kiss them goodbye. You can filter out texts from unknown senders quickly and easily to eliminate those headaches.

To filter out unknown senders:

  1. Launch the Settings app and tap Messages.
  2. Scroll down to Message Filtering and then toggle on the Filter Unknown Senders option.
  3. Exit the Settings app and launch the Messages app.
  4. Tap Filters in the top-left corner of the screen.
  5. You’ll see two options under All MessagesKnown Senders and Unknown Senders. Tap the options to see the associated messages list.

2. Search for the right emoji

Are you an avid emoji user? Then you know your favorite emoji can easily get buried in the sea of recently-used ones available on your iPhone. If you’re using iOS 14, you can quickly search for the right emoji to express your frustration, joy, or any other emotion.

To search for the right emoji:

  1. While sending a text in the Messages app, switch to the Apple emoji keyboard by tapping the bottom left corner’s smiley face or globe.
  2. Just above the emoji, tap Search Emoji.
  3. Enter your search terms to find the right emoji.
  4. Tap one (or more) to use them.

3. Get notified when you’re mentioned in a group chat

Group messages aren’t just an annoyance. They’re hard to follow. If you’re added to a group message but don’t want to scroll through pages of messages, you can set up your device to only alert you when you’re mentioned in the conversation. That way, you eliminate distractions and annoyances but still respond when you need to.

To mute a thread and still get alerts when you’re mentioned:

You’ll need to make sure the right settings are on before you can set this up. Start by opening Settings and then tap “Messages.” Make sure the “Notify Me” switch is toggled on under Mentions. Then, if you mute a thread, you’ll get alerts when tagged.

From there:

  • Open the Messages app on your iPhone and open an existing group message.
  • Tap the names in the group at the top of the screen.
  • Tap info.
  • Scroll down and turn on Hide Alerts by swiping the button to the right and then tap Done.

4. Search through messages from the home screen

Did you know you can search your messages right from the home screen? It’s simple to do and keeps you from having to complete multiple steps to find the info or chat log you’re looking for. This is especially useful if you keep message logs for long periods of time without deleting them.

To search for messages through the home screen:

  1. Swipe right on your home screen to open the Today View.
  2. Enter a keyword into the Search bar at the top of the page.
    • For example, you can type in “appointment time,” and not only will you get Siri Suggestions and web results, but you’ll also see results for anything that matches in Messages, too.
  3. You can tap any conversation highlighted to jump right to that spot in the thread in Messages, or you can hit Search in App to open the Messages search page.

5. Eye contact feature

It can be hard to make eye contact via FaceTime, but a new feature with iOS 14 makes it simple. The new eye contact feature makes video calls more natural by establishing eye contact when looking at the screen instead of the camera. That keeps the other party engaged in the conversation and makes it clear you’re engaged, too.

This feature is enabled by default. As long as your iOS is up to date, you don’t have to do anything special to use it. You’ll just open FaceTime and start a video call to use it.

Related: Apple is upgrading privacy with apps

6. Customize images and emojis for group chats

Do you identify group chats on your phone by names? Well, you have other options now. You can now name them and customize your images and emojis for group chats if you’re using iOS 14.

To do this:

  1. Open Messages.
  2. Open a group text and tap the round icon at the top.
  3. Choose the option for Info.
  4. Tap Change Name and Photo.
  5. Tap Enter a Group Name and type in the new name of the group.
  6. Tap Done.

7. Reply to a specific message (inline)

Tired of basically hitting reply: all in group chats? You can now reply directly to someone in a group chat using inline messaging. This feature also gives you all the related messages in their own view so you can keep track of them.

To direct message someone in a group chat:

  1. To start an inline reply, long-press any message in the chat, and hit Reply.
  2. After you send the response, you’ll see a 1 Reply link under the message indicating that there’s a reply to a specific message. A new message will also appear at the bottom of the conversation. This quotes the text you replied to.
  3. To open the inline chat, you’ll tap the original message, the # Reply link on it, your reply, or the quoted bubble.

8. Pin a conversation

Messages tend to get buried, but you can stop that from happening by pinning them to the top of your conversation list. This makes it easy to locate the main conversations you want to focus on. When you pin a conversation, it will appear as a large bubble at the top of your conversation list. And you can actually pin up to nine conversations, group or individual chats, in order of preference.

To pin a conversation, simply swipe it to the right and tap the pin button.

9. Send audio messages with Siri

You don’t have to use the mic button on your messages to send an audio message. You can now use Siri to do it. This feature is especially useful if you’re driving or need to go hands-free for another reason.

To send audio messages with Siri:

  1. Say the Hey Siri voice command.
  2. When Siri responds, reply with Send an audio message to [contact’s name].
  3. After ‌Siri‌ responds with OK, recording, say what you want to include in the audio message. ‌Your message will be transcribed and appear at the bottom of the screen.
  4. To end the audio message, simply stop speaking for a few seconds.
  5. The options to SendCancel, and Play (to play it back) will appear on the screen. If the message is incorrect, you can just ask to re-record it or cancel. Otherwise, just hit send.

10. In-app searching

Tired of multi-step searches in the apps you’re using? If you need to search for something in an app, the process is simple.

All you have to do is tap the search box at the top of the screen, next to the magnifying glass. Use that box to search for anything you may find in the app. For example, if you’re looking at the ESPN app, search for a specific pro athlete by name and all articles associated with the athlete will appear in a list.

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