Apple has surprised customers with the announcement that a new operating system update will roll out this week that will change the way your iPhone or iPad look.

Ordinarily a new version of iOS would come out around this time of year along with a new iPhone, but since new models of Apple's most popular product have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, the computing giant is going to push out the software for existing devices ahead of time.


One of the big changes in the new iOS is actually (as is often the case) something that's been on the competing Android operating system for several years.

Apple is introducing new widgets, which have been "totally redesigned" and are now able to be placed on the home screen, where you can arrange them however you want to show short snippets of information from apps or services.


There are also what the company calls "Smart Stack" widgets, which will figure out what apps you use the most and try to show you the right one depending on what time of day it is.

Another change borrowed from its rival is the newly introduced app library, which works similar to the Android app drawer.

There's also a new self-organising app library. Photo / Supplied
There's also a new self-organising app library. Photo / Supplied

The app library organises your apps into different categories: Facebook and TikTok will go into a social folder for instance, while streaming apps like Netflix and Binge automatically go into Entertainment.

The ones you use most will also be given priority.

The app library is accessed by swiping across your home screen.

Previously all your apps sat on the home screen but now you can pick which ones you have on there.

You can also choose to have new apps download straight to the library and bypass the home screen altogether.


A new feature can clip phone calls and FaceTime video chats so they no longer take up the whole screen, freeing you up to browse other apps, look up information or do pretty much whatever you like while still being able to see who you're talking to.


You can also use picture-in-picture to watch videos in the corner while you continue other tasks.

The Messages app has also been changed to make group chats more coherent and easier to access.

You can now pin up to nine messages to the top of your app so you don't need to go hunting for your favourites.

There's also no need to clog up the group chat with a new inline replies feature that allows you to respond to individual messages directly.

If you're sick of inane banter you can also mute a message thread so you'll only get a notification if someone specifically tags you using the new mentions feature.

You can also pick a custom image for your group chat now too.


Memojis have received an update too, adding new age options, hair, headwear, and because of everything else going on, masks.

Siri also benefits from the new compact designs so you can quickly ask questions or take memos.


If you've ever used Apple Maps before it was probably the first and only time you did.

The company has tried for years but it's yet to build one that works better than Google's offering, which is a double-edged sword for the Android maker, whose data collection practices at once make its Maps offering the best on the market while simultaneously putting some people off using it.

In its official iOS 14 announcement Apple ambitiously describes the new Maps as "the best way to navigate and explore the world, all while protecting your privacy".

You can now set it up so a phone or video call takes up less space on your screen. Photo / Supplied
You can now set it up so a phone or video call takes up less space on your screen. Photo / Supplied

The actual changes are the addition of new "guides" created by Apple Maps editors "with trusted brands and partners" to show you were to eat, shop and explore in selected cities around the world.


These might be useful in the future if the world opens back up and you can do those things, hopefully by then Apple Maps navigating nous might have even been improved enough for more people to actually use it.

Of course you can now put a mask on your Memoj. Photo / Supplied
Of course you can now put a mask on your Memoj. Photo / Supplied

If you are exploring a new city using the Apple Maps guide you might be interested in another new iOS 14 feature: translations.

The app uses the Apple Neural Engine introduced from iPhone 8 onwards to recognise, transcribe and translate text so you can communicate with people when you don't speak the same language.


The world's most valuable company held an event this week where it announced new Watch devices and updates to the iPad range, including a new iPad Air that some have said will cannibalise the iPad Pro.

It also announced iOS 14 would be available before the end of the week, sending developers into a spin as they raced to make sure their apps would be compatible on the new operating system.

Some of them, such as Nintendo, have advised holding off installing the iOS update straight away, and given the somewhat buggy release of iOS 13 last year, it might be good advice to heed.


If you're willing to throw caution to the wind and want the new iOS now, head into your settings tab and check for the update under General > Software Update.

The update is 2.83GB.

Apple recommends backing up your device to a computer or to iCloud before installing.
If you have an Apple Watch you'll be prompted to upgrade to WatchOS 7 once you've updated your iPhone.

The newly released iOS 14 is compatible with iPhone 6S and later, but some features require one of the newer models.