The App Library in IOS14

Apple have done something to address the problem of having gerzillions of icons on your iPhone

ios14 logoWith Android phones, you can see a display of all of the icons for your installed apps separate from the ones you have chosen to have displayed on your home screens. Until now, iPhones have not offered anything like this. If you have an app installed on an iPhone then its icon is going to be among all the rest cluttering your home screens.

iPhone App LibraryIn the latest version of the operating system – IOS14 (available to iPhone 6S and all newer iPhones) – we now have the “App Library”. This is a new screen to the right of all the screens of apps you are used to seeing (ie you have to swipe left through all your existing screens to find it). The App Library is automatically populated with icons for all your installed apps. Moreover, they are automatically categorised into groups. This categorisation appears to be pretty good, but not perfect. You can search through all of the groups by simply scrolling up or down. If you can’t find an app, tap on the search bar at the top and then either scroll through the alphabetical listing or type in the first part of the app’s name until it appears in the list. Then just tap on it.

It gets a bit cleverer than that. If you look at the illustration here, you will see that most groups have three large icons and then a smaller set of icons. If you click on a large icon, it will launch that app. If you click on a group of small ones then it opens the group to show icons for all the apps it has placed in that group. Who knows how it decides which icons are large. Mine shows Google Maps as a large icon, but I only use it very rarely.

App Library Option
The option “Move to App Library” actually means “Remove from Home screen but leave in App Library”

So, you can now remove loads of seldom-used apps from your “home screens” by pressing on them until they jiggle and then clicking on “Remove app”. And here’s where we have examples of Apple’s appalling inability to explain things accurately. “Remove app” just removes the app from the home screen. It does not un-install it. So, be brave and click on “Remove app”. You will then be presented with another appalling choice of words. The option to “Delete app” is accurate and self-explanatory. But it then lists the option to “Move to App Library”. This is wrong: it is already in the App Library. What they actually mean is “remove from home screen (but leave in the App Library)”. OK, that’s too many words for the screen, but I’m sure I could do a lot better than their choice of words if I gave it some thought.

Apple logo in greenNotwithstanding my complaints about confusing and inaccurate labels, the App Library does look as if it could prove useful. Also, as well as removing little-used apps from home screens one by one, you can also hide entire screens. To do this, get the icons to jiggle (long press on either an icon or empty piece of screen) and then press on the row of dots near the bottom of the screen (you will see that the row of dots now has a grey background). Click on the tick beneath any screen and that screen will not then be shown. This is, of course, reversible.

My guess is that if, like me, you only have two, three, of four screens of icons then you will quite possibly forget all about the “App Library” unless you occasionally swipe into it by accident. If, on the other hand, you have hundreds of icons occupying many screens then you might just find it a useful step forward in organising your digital life.

Oh, and just one more thing – don’t go looking for the App Library in the latest version of your iPad software. For some reason, it’s only available on the iPhone (for now, at least).

(Last updated 09/07/2021)