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
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.
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.
But the iOS 14 widgets really look good. They have a unified design that will extend to third-party apps. The sizes perfectly align with each other and the icon grid. They look like a natural part of the home screen. Most importantly, they accomplish their main task: to provide at a glance the information that cuts down on the need to launch apps.
It’s the same old story: Android gets there first, but Apple gets it right. I can’t remember the last time I added a widget on my Android home screen. Unless it comes with the phone, such as the One UI weather widget or the pixel search bar, they don’t add enough to the annoying experience. When I download iOS 14, however, one of the first things I’ll do is check the app’s gallery and install some of them.
A better Android
Those are not the only features that are clearly cribbed from Android. You can see the influence of Android in App Clips, which is Apple’s version of Instant Apps, as well as the new compact interface for calls with Siri, the Translate app, PIP, select default email and browser apps, not to mention directions cycling with the city. guide. Even estimated conversation in messages is a feature on Galaxy phones.
But in almost every example, the application is smarter on iOS. Apple may take longer to arrive, but more often than not, Apple curves the curve for features and designs on phones, and it’s up to Google to ignore it by tweaking their own system. We’ve already seen it with notches, navigation gestures and face unlocking. I want to bet Android 12 or 13 will have something very similar to the App Library inside the drawer.
Apple might not be the first, but usually it has the last word. This is far more important in the long run.