How to update iOS on your iPhone

iPhones get one major OS update every year, and several smaller updates in-between. These smaller updates are usually minor features or bug fixes. Each major iOS update also takes one year off an iPhone’s life i.e., how long Apple will support.

iOS updates, generally speaking, are optional but iPhone users always install the latest update in most cases. It’s the safe thing to so since updates also contain security patches.

Update iOS on iPhone

iOS updates are free, and they’re simple to do. There are two ways to update iOS on an iPhone.

  • via iTunes
  • Direct update on your phone aka Over the Air (OTA)

1. Update iOS via iTunes

In order to update iOS via iTunes you need;

  • iTunes installed on your Windows 10 PC. Mac users will use Finder.
  • A genuine or Apple-authorized data cable.
  • The iPhone.

Follow these steps to install the update.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your PC/Mac.
  2. Open iTunes/Finder.
  3. Select your iPhone, and sync it to your system.
  4. Click ‘Check for update’.
  5. iTunes will automatically detect an available update.
  6. Click the ‘Download update’ button.
  7. Once the update has been downloaded, click the ‘Update’ button.
  8. Do not disconnect or interact with your iPhone until the update is complete.

Note: You may have to sign in with your Apple ID to download the update. You may also have to enter the passcode for your iPhone.

2.Update iOS OTA

To update your iPhone over the air, you only need two things;

  • Your iPhone
  • Your iPhone charged to at least 50%.
  • If your iPhone isn’t charged to 50%, you can connect it to a power source and then update it.

To update iOS, follow these steps.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Go to General>Software Update.
  3. iOS will check for updates, and show the ones available.
  4. Tap on Download and Install.
  5. Wait for the download to complete. You will see a prompt confirming the install.
  6. Allow the update to install.

Things to know

There are a couple of things you should keep in mind when an iPhone update is in progress in order to avoid problems.

  • Backing up your iPhone before an update is always a good idea.
  • Once an iPhone has been updated, it cannot be downgraded/rolled back to the older version because Apple stops signing the older versions.
  • Your iPhone will restart during the update.
  • You will see the Apple logo and a progress bar under it to indicate an update is in progress. This is normal.
  • The Apple logo may remain on your screen for quite some time. Don’t worry.
  • Never disconnect the iPhone from your system until it turns back on i.e., the update is complete. 
  • Never disconnect the iPhone from a power source if your battery was below 50% when you initiated the update and you’re performing an OTA update.
  • iPhones are really, really hard to brick. You may have heard of Android phones bricking during an update but that too is rare and happens in special circumstances. 
  • If an update fails, your iPhone will turn on, and you will still be on the old iOS version. Your iPhone will be useable. 
  • No update method is superior to the other. Pick whatever suits you best.

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How to set up back tap gestures on iPhone

iOS 14 has a new feature that allows users to configure gestures that are executed by tapping the back of their phones. The feature is called ‘Back taps’, and it works with two and three taps, each with their own action to execute.

Compatible iPhone models

Back taps is an iOS 14 feature however, that does not mean that all iPhone models that can run iOS 14 will be able to use Back Taps. This feature relies on certain hardware capabilities in order to work so older iPhones are going to be left out.

Back tap compatible iPhone models are listed below.

  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone SE 2020

Set up Back tap gestures

Make sure you’ve upgraded to iOS 14, and then follow the steps below to set up back taps.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Go to Accessibility>Touch.
  3. Scroll to the very bottom, and tap Back Tap.
  4. Tap ‘Double Tap’.
  5. Select an action to execute for a double-tap.
  6. Go back to the main Back Tap screen.
  7. Tap ‘Triple Tap’.
  8. Select an action to execute for the Triple Tap.

Execute a Back Tap

A Back Tap will work if you have a case on your iPhone, or not however, some cases are a bit too thick of the feature to work. To test it out, remove the case on your phone.

To execute a double-tap on the back of your iPhone, double-tap on the back with one finger.

To execute a triple-tap on the back of your iPhone, tap the back three times, in quick succession with one finger.

Back tap gestures

When setting up Back Tap on your iPhone, you can choose gestures from those that iOS 14 has pre-configured. 

  • Accessibility Shortcut
  • App Switcher
  • Control Center
  • Home
  • Lock Screen
  • Mute
  • Notification Center
  • Reachability
  • Screenshot
  • Shake 
  • Siri
  • Spotlight
  • Volume Down
  • Volume Up
  • AssistiveTouch
  • Classic Invert
  • Magnifier
  • Smart Invert
  • Speak Screen
  • VoiceOver
  • Zoom
  • Scroll Down
  • Scroll Up

Custom Back Tap gestures

You can set up custom back tap gestures but you need a Shortcut to do the job. You must first create a Shortcut (or import one) for the action you want to perform in the Shortcuts app.

Once the Shortcut has been set up, and run at least once, it will appear in the list of actions that you can set for a double and triple back tap. 

The downside of this method is that you may have to interact with your phone’s screen to execute the shortcut (accept or confirm an action). 

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How to move apps to the Home screen and App library on iPhone

iOS 14 is officially available. Apple has stopped signing iOS 13.7 so there is no longer any way to downgrade to the older version if you’ve already updated the OS.

iOS 14 brings a major change to the user interface. None of its features, in terms of functionality, match the UI change that has been made. This version of iOS has finally embraced the concept of an App drawer.

App drawer vs App Library

App drawer is a term you’ll find used when referring to the Android operating system. The App Drawer is where all installed apps go. Users then have the option to move frequently used apps to the home screen of their Android phones.

The App library is the Android equivalent to the App drawer. All apps that you install appear in it in groups/folders. Unfortunately, these folders cannot be edited to include or exclude certain apps. 

The App library on iOS is similar to the App Drawer on Android, but it’s not the same. It’s safe to say that Apple had taken a different (rather awful) route when implementing the feature.

1. Move apps from App library to Home screen

The App Library isn’t easy to browse because of the system generated groups/folders. In order to move apps from the App library to the Home screen, you need to first find the app.

  1. Swipe left until you see the App Library.
  2. On the App Library screen, swipe down to go to the list of apps.
  3. Tap inside the search bar, and enter the name of the app you want to move to the home screen.
  4. Tap and hold on the app icon.
  5. The icon will ‘separate’ from the list.
  6. Drag & drop it on to a Home screen page.

2. Remove app from Home screen

You can remove an app from the Home screen without uninstalling it. An app that has been removed can still be opened via Spotlight search, and from the App Library search.

  1. Go to the Home screen page with app that you want to remove.
  2. Press and hold on the app icon until a menu appears.
  3. Tap ‘Remove app’ on the menu.
  4. A pop-up will appear; tap ‘Move to App Library’ to remove the app from the Home Screen and move it to the App Library.

3. Automatically add apps to Home Screen

You can set iOS 14 to automatically add any and all newly installed apps to the Home Screen. Enabling this feature will bring back the old behavior of iOS where, when a new app was installed, it appeared on the Home screen.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Home Screen.
  3. Select the ‘Add to Home Screen’ option.

4. Hide Home Screen pages

Another new, and useful feature that has been added in iOS 14 is the ability to hide a Home Screen page. When you hide a Home Screen page, you simply remove it from the list of pages you can swipe through however, the apps you’ve placed on it and the folders you’ve organized them in do not disappear.

You can show the Home Screen page again, and everything will be the way it was before.

  1. Press and hold an empty area on the Home Screen.
  2. When the Home Screen enters edit mode, tap the little dots at the bottom (above the Dock).
  3. Uncheck the page you want to hide, or check the page you want to show.
  4. Tap Done at the top right.

App Library on iPadOS

iPadOS 14 has also been released alongside iOS 14 but it is an extremely watered down, unimpressive version of iOS 14. Most features from iOS 14 did not make it to iPadOS 14 and the App Library is one of them.

If you’ve been swiping left on your iPad trying to open the App Library, it’s time to stop. It isn’t there. Likewise, you can’t hide home screen pages on iPadOS.

The only good reason to update to iPadOS 14 is the Scribble feature though it too is only useful if you have an Apple Pencil.

Conclusion

If you do not like the App Library, you can ignore it for the most part. Set apps to be automatically added to the Home Screen from settings, and you never have to visit the App Library. You may need to go through it once to make sure all your apps are already on the Home Screen but beyond that, it can be ignored.

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How to change the default browser on iPhone

iOS 14 has been released and it has quite a few new interesting features. A new iPhone release is still pending at this time but the OS update has some features worth checking out. One noteworthy feature in this new version is the ability to change the default browser on an iPhone.

Change default browser on iPhone

Make sure you’ve updated to iOS 14 before you try to change the default browser on your iPhone. 

1. Browser settings

  1. Install the browser that you want to use as the default browser on the iPhone.
  2. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  3. Scroll down to the browser that you want to set as the new default browser, and tap it.
  4. Tap the ‘Default Browser App’ option.
  5. Select the browser that you want to use from the list. 

2. Safari settings

You can also change the default browser from Safari’s own settings. The end result is the same.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down and tap Safari.
  3. On Safari’s preferences page, tap Default Browser App.
  4. Select a default browser from the listed apps.

Browser not listed in default browser list

The ability to change the default browser on iOS is new and it depends on apps i.e., browsers to add support for it. If you do not see the ‘Default Browser App’ option when you visit the preferences for your browser in the Settings app, it means that it has not been updated to support this new feature.

The only thing you can do is to wait until the app is updated. At present, Chrome and Microsoft Edge can both be set as the default browser on iOS but it seems Firefox has not yet been updated. 

Default browser limitations

Changing the default browser on iOS is not the same as changing the default browser on a desktop. On the desktop, every single URL that users open, or any HTML file that is opened, opens in the default browser. On iOS, that’s not how it works.

Safari home screen shortcuts will still continue to open in Safari. Apps that can open links but do not have their own browser will continue to open the links in a Safari container. Apps like Facebook are excluded since they have their own browser built into the app.

These limitations may apply to other areas as well. Safari is a stock app that cannot be uninstalled so it will still handle certain web calls on your phone.

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What’s new in iOS 14?

iOS 14 is now available for all users and it’s the first version of iOS that has not been launched alongside a new iPhone model. The iPhone 12 is coming, eventually. iOS 14 brings a dramatic shift to the home screen, the widgets, and more.

iOS 14 Compatible devices

The following devices will be able to update to iOS 14;

  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE (1st generation)
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation)
  • iPod touch (7th generation)

iOS 14 New Features

Here are 15 new features, big and small, introduced in iOS 14.

1. New Home Screen and App Library

The Home screen on iOS has changed dramatically. Users can now hide entire pages from the app screen, and they can choose which apps appear on it. The apps that are not used frequently are listed in the newly added App Library (swipe left). The App Library is something of a small disaster; apps are grouped into folders that cannot be edited. The easiest, and only practical method to search for an app in the library is to use the search feature.

You can choose to have newly installed apps automatically appear on the home screen, or you can choose to manually add them. There is a new Home Screen setting in the Settings app that you should explore. The good news is the App Library is the very last page on the Home Screen so you don’t necessarily have to change anything on the Home Screen. You can keep using it the way you were before.

2. Widgets

iOS only recently brought back widgets but this is the first time it’s made any real changes to them. Widgets have a new look, and you can now add them to a home screen page (just like on Android). Apps will have to be updated to support the new widget type. Apps that still have widgets on the older model will still appear on the original widgets page.

3. Picture in picture mode

Picture in picture mode was added to iPadOS last year. The feature has now been added to iOS. Again, this is something that apps will have to add support for. Surprisingly, the Photos app doesn’t have support for it just yet.

4. Change default browser and mail app

iOS 14 allows users to change the default browser and the default mail app. The apps that you want to use will have to add support for this feature as well.

5. Pinned conversations – Messages

Messages now lets you pin your favorite conversation threads to the top. Swipe right on a thread, and it will be pinned to the very top. Tap a pinned conversation, and send a message over the thread.

6. Mentions and threaded replies

The Messages app on iOS 14 is playing catch-up with other messaging apps. Users can now mention someone in a group conversation by entering their name (no @ symbol required). Users can also reply to a message by long-pressing it, and selecting Reply. The app’s UI will display the message that has been replied. The UI looks half-baked.

7. App Clips

App clips allow you to ‘preview’ apps without installing them. An app’s select features can be used directly from the App Store. There aren’t many apps that support this at present. iOS 14 seems to have caught a lot of devs unprepared.

8. Approximate location sharing

iOS 14 has placed quite a bit of emphasis on privacy. Users can now choose to share their ‘approximate’ location instead of their precise location with certain apps. For apps like Google Maps or Uber, you will have to grant access to your precise location if you want to get accurate directions but apps like Facebook or Twitter will work just fine with an approximate location.

9. New Translate app

When you update to iOS 14, you will see a new Translate app on your Home Screen. It can translate text live, and you can type text to translate. The app has very limited language support at present so don’t uninstall Google Translate just yet.

10. Incoming call alert

Last year, iOS 13 changed how the volume up/down animation appeared on the screen so that it didn’t block most of it. This year, iOS 14 has changed the incoming call alert when your phone is unlocked. It now appears as a banner and your entire screen is not blocked by it. The banner has buttons for accepting and rejecting a call.

11. New exposure controls in Camera

The Camera app has new exposure controls that are quantified instead of just a knob on a slider. Open the Camera app, tap the arrow button at the top of the view finder, and the controls will appear at the bottom, above the shutter button.

12. Hold shutter to record in Camera

The Camera app can take photos, and record videos in various formats but switching between them isn’t the most intuitive, especially considering the size iPhones are now. With iOS 14, if you want to record a video, you can press and hold on the shutter button and it will start recording.

13. Caption photos

You can now caption photos and these captions are searchable. Open a photo in the Photos app, swipe up, and tap inside the caption field.

14. Camera & Mic in use indicator

When the camera and mic are in use by an app, you will see a green dot in the status bar. The indicator does not requires apps to be updated and will work for all apps installed on your system.

15. Back tap gesture

This feature is only available for iPhones that have Tap to wake support. You can configure the phone to perform an action on double and triple tap on the back of the phone. The feature works with and without a phone cover.

Conclusion

The Home screen redesign and the ability to change the stock browser and email client are easily the biggest changes that have been made in iOS 14. What features are you looking forward to using? Did you find a feature we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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