Apple adds new, cool features to iOS devices

I liked some of the new features, and some not as much. Each feature depends on your preferences. But overall, the features are pretty cool and glad Apple is always working on improving its products.

Shows White Circle
As you can see here as a video is being taken of this adorable Springer Spaniel, a white circle pops up. If you press the white circle it will take photos as your video continues. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch

I, by no means, claim to have any “Tech Savvy” knowledge.

I am just your average iPhone lover, who keeps up with all the new updates Apple provides — mainly because I get annoyed by the device sending me constant reminders to update my phone. So I do it for that reason, and half the time I don’t even know what the new updates are. Some of the updates seem to be pretty minor — just to get rid of some of the bugs — but the recent update, iOS 14.2, seemed to offer quite a few new functions so I decided to investigate.

For those not familiar, iOS is a mobile operating system created and developed by Apple Inc. for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

In this column there is not enough space to write about all the new features of the 14.2 update and Apple has already launched its next update, which fixes some bugs and more. I’m writing just a few of the features I played around with on my iPhone.

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The Camera

I am going to begin with the camera as I take many pictures, whether it be for work or play. There are several new features in the camera. Start in your settings and then go to your camera and see the different features.

Camera Settings
Here is a look once you click on your Settings and go to Camera. All you have to do is slide the icon on if you want to use the features, such as Use Volume Up for Burst or Mirror Front Camera. Screenshot

One new feature is called Mirror Front Camera, which you may notice when you take a selfie. Admit it, most everyone takes a selfie at one point — some way more than others. So how do you get that perfect selfie? Well this feature allows you to take a mirror image of yourself, compared to how the camera before flipped the image. This feature is for those people who want the perfect selfie, as the image will appear as you see yourself in the mirror.

Another feature that is amazing is changing from photo to video at a rapid speed to help you not miss that split second opportunity. Let’s say you are taking a photo of your dog or cat and they all of a sudden do the most adorable pet trick. All you have to do is press down and hold the photo button, then let go when the trick is complete. Voilà, you have it!

Another feature with the video and photo buttons that you may have never noticed or knew about is the white button that pops up right next to the center button when you start taking a video. Well, pressing this button lets you take still photos while shooting videos on the iPhone so you don’t have to switch between video and photo modes. Sweet.

Your camera also had been able to take a burst of photos just by holding down the shutter button. Now, if you go to your Camera settings and turn on your Use Volume Up for Burst, you just have to hold down the Volume Up button to take a burst of photos. Also if you hold down your photo button, it will give you an option to record a video. While pressing down on the shutter, a lock will appear to the right and if you slide your thumb or finger to the lock it will take a video. If you ignore the lock it will just take a photo.


Another new feature in your Camera setting is you can turn on Prioritize Faster Shooting, which takes way more photos at a faster rate than the old burst option Apple had.

The update also includes a Grid in the Camera setting for the person to center the image they are taking much easier. Also in the Camera setting, you can turn on Scan QR Codes, which allows you easier access to scan a bar or QR codes without downloading additional apps.

Another feature on the Camera added deals with hiding photographs. Before a person had to download an app to hide photographs on your smartphone device, but now you don’t even need that, as the update added it as a new feature. People chose to hide certain photographs for different reasons and, with the holidays approaching, it can be helpful if you are like me and take screenshots or photos of holiday gifts you may be purchasing for a loved one or friend. One day I was scrolling through my photos with a friend who said, “Hey what is that?” and I was like, “Ahhh, nothing” and began scrolling faster as it was a screenshot of a Christmas gift.

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So how do you hide a photo? It’s pretty easy. All you have to do is open up your Albums, press Select in the upper right hand corner and tap on the photos you want to hide. Then you tap on the Upload button, scroll down until you will see the Hide feature and press it. Then when you need to look at the photos you hid, all you need to do is click on your Albums and scroll all the way down and press the Hidden feature located right above the deleted photos.

Anyone who has your phone can go to the Hidden feature, so if you want more security, you go to your Settings, then Photos and then turn off the Hidden Album slider icon.


In your settings, click on Accessibility. Go ahead, pick up your device. Accessibility has some features that may help you with certain functions you use quite often, such as taking screenshots, adjusting the volume or scrolling. This update allows you to double tap or triple tap the back of your device to launch whatever function you have selected.

I tested the double tap for taking screenshots. I am going to tell you right now, some people will like this feature and some won’t. I like it as it was easy for me to just double tap my device and pop there is my screenshot. Sounds, perfect right? Well as I was writing this column and I tested it out again, it worked and then I laid my iPhone on my desk and it hit just right that it took another screenshot — so, just saying!

Or if you want to lock your screen without pressing the side key, you can set a double or triple tap to lock your screen. You can only have one function per tap, as the device will only recognize one function for double tap and one for triple tap, so you will have to choose the function you want. You can program each tap to coincide with the home screen, control center, notification center, Siri and more.


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Another cool feature under Accessibility is the Sound Recognition, which may be helpful to those who are hard of hearing or have their ear buds in, which can drown out background noise. Go to Sounds and you will be able to turn on any sounds you want to be notified of, such as fire alarms, a dog barking or cat meowing, the doorbell or even a baby crying.

Another feature under Accessibility is you can shake your device to undo your last action, such as a text message. I decided not to do this option as to me it seems to take too longer to shake my iPhone than simply deleting it.

The iOS update now allows iPhone users to pin contacts they message often. There are two easy ways to do this. One is to hold down the contact in the Messages thread and a pop-up window will appear and you click on pin. Or click on your contact without opening the text thread and swipe right. You’ll see a yellow pin and you click that. Once a person is pinned their contact will be at the top of you iPhone screen, like shown here. Screenshot


Now let’s talk about messaging. A new update includes pinning contacts in your text Messages. Let’s say you have a few people you text a lot and you can pin them to find them more quickly. Once you pin them their contact will be seen on the top of your device in a bubble, for easy access. To do this you go to text messages — and click on your contact without opening the text thread and swipe right. You’ll see a pop-up, with the option to pin it to the top of the list as a bubble. If you do a quick swipe right you don’t even have to press the pin button.

This also works for group chats. It is just as easy to unpin a conversation, by tapping their contact bubble and selecting the unpin option.

I tried this and it is pretty handy. It just takes some getting used to as your brain may be so used to searching your conversations to find the person you want to message with — that I am times would be searching for a person and then was like “Duh, it’s at the top of your screen.”

Another feature — one the Android already has — is you can now search for the emoji you want in Messages, by typing in a description in the Emoji icon.


Another feature is you can program phrases you type a lot in Messages. If you go to your Settings to General to Keyboard and finally to Text Replacement. Here you can customize the frequent phrases you may type a lot such as “Be home soon,” “See you tomorrow” or in our media field “meeting almost done.” You type in your own shorthand, such as BHS for “Be Home Soon.” I did that shorthand on purpose to make a point. You need to be careful on what you use to abbreviate your phrases as it may mean something else, such as BHS is short for Brainerd High School.

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Don’t get me wrong, this is a great time saver. However, it is something I most likely won’t use. I tried it out for a few days, but a disadvantage for me is I didn’t remember the shortcuts I created. I suppose over time a person like me who forgets easily would remember the shortcuts and it would be beneficial. One good thing is if I typed something close to my phrases — it would pop up.

Silenced Call
The iPhone has a new feature that silences unknown callers while allowing your contacts to still call you with the sound on. You will want to go to your Settings, to Phone and scroll down until you see Silence Unknown Callers and turn it on. When you turn this on all your unknown callers will be silenced, sent to voicemail, but also will be on the recent call list. Screenshot


Ever get annoyed with spam callers, especially when you’re in the middle of dinner with your family and don’t want to be disturbed. The iPhone has a new feature that silences unknown callers while allowing your contacts to still call you with the sound on. You will want to go to your Settings, to Phone and scroll down until you see Silence Unknown Callers and turn it on. When you turn this on all your unknown callers will be silenced, sent to voicemail, but also will be on the recent call list. This is nice as not all my unknown callers are spam or unknown people.

Another minor feature is you can have your incoming calls come in by taking up your entire screen by selecting Full Screen or you can select Banner. Banner is nice so if you are in the middle of texting someone, you can quickly finish the message and then answer the phone call.


There were some updates with Siri, with the most notable being that when you say “Hey Siri” it does not take up your full screen. You will see Siri working on the bottom of your screen, so if you are in another app Siri won’t block it.

Another biggie with Siri is it now sends updates. Just say, “Hey Siri, what’s my update?”



I recommend going to Settings to Face ID & Passcode and scroll down to the bottom and slide the icon to turn on Erase Data. This will protect your data, if someone steals your phone and tries to break into it the iPhone will erase all the data after the person has 10 failed passcode attempts.

From Apple on 14.2:

  • More than 100 new emoji, including animals, food, faces, household objects, musical instruments, gender-inclusive emoji and even ones with a mask on.

  • Eight new wallpapers in both light and dark mode versions.

  • A built-in scientific calculator on the iPhone. You launch the calculator and turn your device to the side in the landscape orientation and this will bring up the scientific calculator.

  • Optimized battery charging for AirPods Pro to slow the rate of battery aging by reducing the time your AirPods Pro spends fully charged.

  • Headphone audio level notifications to alert you when audio level could impact your hearing.

  • New AirPlay controls to stream entertainment throughout your home.

  • Intercom support with HomePod and HomePod mini using iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods and CarPlay.

  • Ability to connect HomePod to Apple TV 4K for stereo, surround sound and Dolby Atmos audio.

  • Option to provide statistics about Exposure Notifications, without identifying you, to participating Public Health Authorities.

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.

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