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📱💻 Finer Tech Newsletter ⌚️📺 iOS 14 Edition: Custom widget stacks, Messages improvements, more

📱💻 Finer Tech Newsletter ⌚️📺
📱💻 Finer Tech Newsletter ⌚️📺 iOS 14 Edition: Custom widget stacks, Messages improvements, more
By David Chartier • Issue #68 • View online
Happy iOS 14 week everyone! Also, happy iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 week, too. This is a jumbo issue focusing on iOS and iPadOS 14, while the next issue in two weeks will focus on watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. No links this week, this issue is long enough, but I do have a video you might like.
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💡 Tips
📱 iOS 14: Create your own widget stacks
Widgets got a huge upgrade in iOS 14: they can come in multiple sizes, you can put them next to apps on your home screen, and more.
At the top of the new widgets screen, Apple has one called Smart Stack. It cycles through seven of Apple’s apps, like Photos, Notes, Calendar, and others. But you can create your own stacks of any apps!
When editing your widget layout, simply drag two widgets of the same size on top of each other. To experiment, I made a 2x2 stack (the small square) of Things, Timepage, and Carrot Weather.
That’s Apollo on the left showing posts from the r/Funny subreddit. I wanted something uplifting at the top of my widgets.
📱 iOS 14: AirPods, Beats can auto-switch between devices
This one may take a little more experimenting to nail down the behavior. But this week I was watching a video on my iPad over lunch, I paused it, then picked up my iPhone and shuffled a playlist in Music. My 2nd gen AirPods switched automatically and almost immediately. It was great.
suspect that a trigger for the switch is some kind of an event. In the ‘Switch devices’ section of this support doc, Apple uses the example of listening to music on an iPad, then answer a call on an iPhone.
Apple says this requires AirPods 2nd gen or Pro, or some models of Beats headphones, though I can’t find a list.
📱 iOS 14: Messages for iPad finally supports blank lines
Sometimes I send long messages to friends, especially if I’m doing any kind of tech support. Just like writing anywhere else, I like to break up big chunks of text with blank lines. 
Messages on Mac has always supported this, but it never has for me on iPad. Until now. Simply use Shift + Return to make long text messages easier to read.
📱 iOS 14: Messages finally gets a keyboard shortcut to create new chats
I wish I was kidding about this, but Command + N has never worked to create a new chat in Messages for iPad. It finally does.
Bonus tip: We also got Command + I to show the details of a conversation. Scroll down on that screen to view all the photos, links, locations, and files you’ve shared in that chat.
📱 iOS 14: Double/Triple tap the back to run a Shortcut or open an app, even from the lockscreen
The iPhone has a new Accessibility feature where you can tap the back of the device to trigger a variety of actions, like opening a Settings section, enabling VoiceOver, and even running any Shortcut.
The example I found from Micah Headdings on Twitter is something I’ve wanted for a while: a way to quickly open Halide from anywhere, instead of Apple’s default camera app.
You can set these tap features in Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Back Tap. In order to open an app, you must first create a single-step Shortcut with the Open Appaction, and pick the app. Then that Shortcut will be available as a Back Tap action.
📱 iOS 14: New Control Center options for Home controls, Sleep tracking
In Settings > Control Center, there’s a new switch for showing Home app controls alongside other quick actions for mute, Do Not Disturb, Dark Mode, and others.
One catch is that we don’t see to have control over which controls appear. The description below this feature make it sound like they’re controlled by some kind of recommendation algorithm. I wish we could pick which controls appear.
Another new Control Center option is Sleep Mode, for tracking your sleep in the Health app. The Apple Watch also gained direct sleep tracking in watchOS 7, but this looks like a way for non-Watch owners to manually track at least some of their sleep habits.
📱 iOS 14: Announce messages with Siri
In Settings > Notifications, you can now enable Siri to read new text messages while you’re wearing AirPods or some Beats headphones (Siri will not read them over speakerphone, for obvious reasons).
Siri will also wait briefly after each message to let you respond without having to say “Hey Siri.”
📱 iOS 14: Safari has a new Privacy Report
Apple is tripling down on privacy with its OS releases this year, and Safari is a big focus. There is a lot of new, automatic cross-site tracking prevention features under the hood, but you can see at least some of the fruits of that labor in Safari’s website menu.
“Website menu” is the only thing I can come up with to call that aA button on the left of Safari’s search bar. Anyway, tap it to see a list of options such as Reader ViewTurn off Content Blockers (if any are installed), and now also Privacy Report.
The Privacy Report button will display how many trackers were blocked for the current site. Tap it to see a list of recent sites and their blocked trackers.
🔗 Good Links
I like working and chilling out to all kinds of instrumental music. Fortunately, I recently discovered a veritable ocean of atmospheric music channels on YouTube to fit every mood, vibe, and situation. Some of them animate a background and add light ambient sounds like rain. The channel below, Chillhop Radio, has been one of my favorites lately. Give it a listen sometime.
Chillhop Radio - jazzy & lofi hip hop beats 🐾
Chillhop Radio - jazzy & lofi hip hop beats 🐾
🤩 Thanks for reading
How did you like this issue? Was it useful and bite-sized enough? Are there certain kinds of tips or apps you’d like to see here? Let me know what you think on, or email.
Did you enjoy this issue?
David Chartier

Quick productivity boosters for apps and Apple devices, served with a side of humor, links, and videos across culture, science, and more.

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