Skip to Content
© Yalcinsonat | Dreamstime.com
Technology

iOS 14 is the biggest iPhone update in years – but do this before updating

If you caught a glimpse of Apple’s latest fall event, you were probably dazzled by all of the shiny new tech and wild features of the latest Apple Watch and iPad. But after the product announcements came there was a far more important piece of news: iOS 14 is ready to make its debut.

Did you miss the Apple event? Don’t worry, we have Apple’s latest updates, reveals and product announcements all in one place. Tap or click here to see our coverage from the Fall 2020 Apple event.

Now that iOS 14 is here, at last, Apple fans are dying to know what their devices can do with it. But before you update, you’ll want to make sure that your phone and all its data are safely backed up. We’ll show you how to do this, plus, we’ll give you an overview of all the new features you can try on Apple’s latest operating systems.

iOS 14 is a brand new Apple experience

If iOS 13 felt like the same old song and dance as the previous update, iOS 14 is bound to surprise you. The new software contains a range of new settings and features that make your phone more flexible than ever. And that’s not even counting all the powerful security enhancements it includes.

One of the biggest changes you’ll see is iOS 14’s new home screen updates. You can now pin specific apps to their screens and make custom home menus in the form of App Clips and live widgets.

Android users have enjoyed widgets for years, and iOS 14 marks the first time Apple fans get a taste of the fun. With widgets, you’ll get at-a-glance updates on weather, time, music and calendars. You can also clip these widgets permanently to your home screen, so you don’t have to deal with boring rows of apps that the iPhone is known for.

If you have too many apps to sort through, not to worry: App Library lets you search through your entire collection in alphabetical order. Now you won’t have to waste time scrolling and hunting for Words With Friends. Just swipe left until you reach the last screen of apps and swipe left one more time to access the App Library. You can then search for any app on your phone.

And if you’re a fan of YouTube (or watching videos on your device in general), you can keep the show going with iOS 14’s new picture-within-picture viewing. This turns any currently playing video into a small window in the corner of your screen. If you’ve owned an iPad, you already know how handy this feature can be. Now, iPhone owners can take advantage of it, too.

These are only some of the top features of iOS 14. There are even more surprises to find in iOS 14, including:

  • A new Translation app from Apple that works in real-time with digital text transcription. This means you can use it while traveling and have your translated text show up on-screen.
  • Memoji and messages have new faces and gear-like masks. You can also pin messages at the top of conversations to access at any time.
  • App Store apps now include a privacy breakdown that tells you how the app will use your device and data.
  • You’ll now get alerts at the top of your screen when your iPhone’s microphone or camera is in use.
  • Incoming calls can now come in as a banner notification instead of a full-screen takeover. Much better!
  • Apple Maps will now integrate review information from publishers like Zagat, as well as dedicated map views for bikers and EV drivers. If you need to fill up your Tesla, you’ll now know where the closest power station is.
  • Digital car keys are now available on select iPhone models with NFC chips. Currently, only BMW 5 series vehicles will work with digital car keys, but more manufacturers are planning to join the program soon.

On iPadOS, the iPad version of iOS 14, most of the same features apply. However, iPad owners get access to the exclusive Scribble feature with Apple Pencil — which lets you write handwritten notes and convert them into digital text. You can even fill in text fields on websites and apps using your Apple Pencil.

To install the update, open the Settings app on your device. Then, scroll down and tap General followed by Software Update. You can then tap Download and Install to install the update.

What’s new with watchOS 7

You know seven is only half of 14, but the new watchOS is a whole lot of fun. The latest Apple Watch software includes new tracking options for dancing and sleep. And yes, it will continue to track information in the background (like your heart rate) even while you sleep.

Tap or click here to see what’s new with Apple Watch sleep tracking.

Apple Fitness+, the new workout app, is also available on Apple Watch. If you activate the service on your phone for a monthly fee, you can track your digital workouts right on your device. Plus, the app includes full courses for a variety of exercises like yoga and cycling.

Tap or click here for a detailed overview of Apple Fitness + and other new Apple services.

And last, but not least, watchOS 7 can now track handwashing. This will help make sure you’re scrubbing long enough to kill bacteria and viruses like the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Plus, you don’t even need to push any buttons: The app can hear when your faucet is on.

To install watchOS 7, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings on your Apple Watch.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Software Update.
  4. Tap Install.
  5. Tap OK.
  6. Open the Watch app on your iPhone and agree to the Terms & Conditions.
  7. On your Apple Watch, tap Download & Install.

Don’t skip this step: Back up your iPhone first!

If you’re going to make the jump to this brand new operating system, you don’t want to miss out on backing up your device. If something goes wrong (like a dead battery or power outage) and you don’t back up, you could end up losing critical data.

Here’s how to back up your information to iCloud and your PC or Mac:

iCloud

  1. Open the Settings app on your device and tap the icon with your name at the top of the menu.
  2. Tap iCloud.
  3. Scroll down and tap iCloud Backup.
  4. Turn backup on (if it isn’t already) and tap Back Up Now.

You may need to sign in with your Apple ID and password if you haven’t logged on in a while.

PC

  1. Download iTunes for Windows and install the software.
  2. Plug your device in using the USB cord your phone came with.
  3. Open iTunes and click the phone-shaped icon on the upper left side of the app.
  4. Click Back Up Now.

Mac

  1. Connect your phone to your Mac with the USB cord your phone came with.
  2. Click the Finder icon (shaped like a face on the bottom left of your dock) and select your device in the sidebar.
  3. Click General. Then, click Back Up Now.

Alternatively, if you want a more robust system that can back up all of your gadgets, you can try out our sponsor IDrive. IDrive lets you back up all your PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads and Android devices into one single account protected by state-of-the-art encryption.

Just go to IDrive.com and use promo code Kim at checkout to get 50% off 5 terabytes of cloud backup. That’s less than $35 for the first year.

Happy updating!

Stop robocalls for good with Kim’s new eBook

Robocalls interrupt us constantly and scam Americans out of millions of dollars every year. Learn Kim's best tricks for stopping annoying robocalls in this handy guide.

Get the eBook