The App Library: iOS 14’s Game Changer?

March 31, 2023 • April Miller


Every major iOS update provides Apple users with an exhilarating boon to their organization and tech management. Previous updates added Screen Time and facial recognition, so upcoming iterations are responsible for adding value to the iOS suite. The App Library for iOS 14 was one of those innovations Apple gave users in attempts to automate some app maintenance and folder categorization. How helpful could this library be, and how can Apple users get the most out of the App Library from iOS 14’s update?

What is the App Library, and How Do I Get it on iOS 14?

The App Library is a feature added to iOS in version 14. All you have to do is update your Apple devices to this version as the earliest. Subsequent updates will have it unless Apple removes the feature in later updates.

It nests to the right of the home screen and contains pre-assigned categories for your apps. These categories vary for every phone, depending on how you use your device. 

The app categories match how the iPhone recognizes apps within Screen Time, with examples including:

  • Social
  • Productivity
  • Creativity
  • Games
  • Reading & Reference
  • Finance
  • Other

The App Library doesn’t stop there. It also integrates with your Shortcuts app, categorizing those when possible. Plus, it shows offloaded applications to prompt users to consider storage. Some users find it helpful, whereas others prefer their self-created systems and want the App Library gone. There is no toggle to disable it entirely, however Apple users have found workarounds.

If phone users don’t want apps downloaded to the App Library, they follow this path to only download apps to the home screen — Settings > Home Screen > Newly Downloaded Apps > Add to Home Screen.

Users can also take more extreme measures by jailbreaking, though this is always risky because it could void warranties or finagle with operational efficacy.

What is the Purpose of the App Library?

Many users before this update manually created folders to get a grip on a full-to-bursting iPhone. With the App Library, Apple installed a solution to save phone organizers time. It also allows for faster app hunting with its incorporated search bar, especially for geeks who love downloading and experimenting with countless new apps. 

It structures folders by categories, highlighting the most recently used for easy access. Tapping the bottom right part of the folder box will expand the folder to fill the screen. User-created folders on the home screen could only show nine apps at a time, making people scroll to the right through endless utility apps. The App Library indicates as many as will fit on the screen, giving users a more comprehensive view of their collection and storage situation. 

Everyone uses their home pages differently. Some have never touched their screens and have endless pages of every app they downloaded. Some want ways to minimize what apps fill their home screen to curb phone usage with intention. In an age of decluttering and digital minimalism, it also reveals to users what categories contain the most apps.

What Are the Best Tips and Tricks?

The App Library can take multiple views and customization options with this update. Tapping in new places and adjusting settings can reveal a few tips and tricks for navigating this new feature.

  • If you don’t like the folder view, swipe down to see all your apps alphabetically. The search bar at the top will reduce unnecessary seconds spent scrolling.
  • Perform the opposite directions to prevent new apps from installing on your home screen to avoid clutter — Settings > Home Screen > Newly Downloaded Apps > App Library Only. Here you can also toggle Notification badges.
  • The top-left corner of the App Library has a Suggestions folder based on app frequency and use. Use it to minimize searching for your favorite apps.

Is the App Library on iOS 14 Worth the Hype?

Users have mixed feelings regarding the App Library, some saying it’s clunky or others thankful for the automation. Its value will vary depending on your device’s use and relationship with it. Apple may expand its capabilities with further updates, but it’s uncertain. For now, all Apple fans can do is experiment with it to see how it interacts with their phone-navigating experience.