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How iOS 14 has stolen features from Android — and made them so much better

Monday Apple inaugurate iOS 14– And if you’re an Android user, the “new” OS might seem a little unfamiliar.

The latest update to the iPhone operating system, due to release this fall, promises improvements including a new home screen, smarter navigation, faster apps, and a cool coat of paint on everything. And it’s clear that many of the best features are inspired, influenced, or just plain swiped from Android, from the new default email and browser apps to the picture-in-picture for video. You can clearly see the influence on the new compact view for Siri with their incoming calls, the cycling direction of Maps, even the new home screen widget

ios14 features Apple

Apple’s iOS brand features will be very familiar to anyone who uses an Android phone — but also a lot different.

But as I watched Apple unveil the features during the slick and fast-paced moderator, I couldn’t help feeling a little envious. Apple has refined Android features to the point where they practically make Google’s version seem downright inferior. It’s not just Apple’s sales pitch — there are many iOS 14 features that I’ve used on Android for years. But they somehow still look cool and right at home on the iPhone.

Apple gets a lot of credit for breaking new ground, but the reality of the matter is it rarely does that. What Apple does best is build things that work so well and feel so natural that whatever came before doesn’t matter. That talent is on full display in iOS 14.

A drawer by any other name

The most obvious feature borrowed from Android is the App Library. Similar to Android’s smart and long-lasting app drawer, it ultimately removes the need to keep all the apps you’ve downloaded on your home screen with no way to sort them automatically.

But instead of just moving them to a drawer, Apple has developed a novel feature that allows you to hide their home screen pages, but still access your apps with a swipe. This is similar to how Android works — apps are collected in the drawer, but can also exist on your home screen for quick access — but the iOS 14 version allows you to have it both ways.

galaxy s20 ultra apps Christopher Hebert / IDG

Once you see the App Library in iOS 14, you’ll never look at the app drawer in Android in quite the same way.

Hiding apps from viewing on iOS is a late feature that many years Android has had for years, but it still feels new in iOS 14. On Android, you need to nuke every app when you want to clear out a home screen and start over if you change your mind. Apple’s App Library keeps your home screen organized as they were before, but it allows you to easily hide and show them. Even the App Library itself gets an update on the app drawer, with smart hints and files that spotlight your most frequently used apps.

Win the war widget

Apple has also done a better job with iOS widgets. Android has had widgets on the home screen for as long as the iPhone has had a Lightning port, but very few of them are worth using, outside of Google’s search bar and basic weather conditions. Third-party widgets, to put it mildly, mostly trash, and Google has done nothing to advance the platform aside from some pixel-first widgets installed by default.

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