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iOS 14.3 is here — top 5 new features and how to get it now

iOS 14.3 release date
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple just released iOS 14.3, the latest significant update to iOS 14 — and we're really excited. But if you're like a lot of users we talk to, you've likely got two questions: how do I update to iOS 14.3, and why should I? 

Fortunately, we've got both answered, and here we're going to break down the 5 biggest features of iOS 14.3, and also walk you through the upgrade process.

And there's plenty more than the features we're listing below. For example, the App Store is getting privacy summaries for each app. But since these are developer-reported sections of information, it's not like an independent third-party is auditing their app for a completely thorough synopsis. 

We're also going to see App Clip Codes finally hit the market as well, which will help you use a feature of an app — say a ride-hailing service — without downloading the whole app. The U.S. is also getting "air quality health recommendations," and you'll be able to indicate "pregnancy, lactation, or contraceptive use" in the Cycle Tracking section of the Health app.

How to download iOS 14.3

First, make sure your iPhone is backed up — a must when applying any significant update. You never know what could go wrong.

Via iCloud: Open Settings, tap your profile at the top, then tap iCloud, then scroll down to iCloud Backup. You'll see a "Last successful backup" time at the bottom of the screen, and if that time is not recent enough, tap Back Up Now.

Locally: Connect your iPhone to your Mac via a USB to Lightning Cable, and open Finder. Then, select your iPhone in the left menu. Under General, and then under Backups, select Back Up Now. You can encrypt your backup to make it more secure, by checking off "Encrypt local backup."

Then, for how to update to iOS 14.3: open Settings on your iPhone, tap General and select Software Update. You should see the option to download and install iOS 14.3 here once it arrives. We saw it available at 1:48 p.m. ET, but if you don't see it, do not worry. Updates tend to roll out in waves, so don't be frustrated if you don't see it at first. 

The update may take some time, so expect a small wait.

iOS 14.3: Camera upgrades

A wide range of iPhones will get perks for their cameras. According to 9to5Mac, that includes the iPhone 6s series, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, 8 and X, which will get the ability to mirror your front facing camera to keep the mirrored versions of selfies (which some would argue look incorrect), a feature originally just available in iOS 14 for the iPhone XR/XS and later. This feature is enabled in Settings, under Camera, and then Composition.

The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max are getting the ProRAW photo format in iOS 14.3.

The camera app is getting the option to record video at 25 fps — and that's not limited to a specific iPhone.

iOS 14.3: Apple Fitness Plus

One of the biggest reasons to expect iOS 14.3 today (Dec. 14) is Apple's new Fitness Plus subscription service. In the fine print of the Fitness Plus press release, Apple notes that "Apple Fitness+ will be available Monday, December 14, and requires iOS 14.3, watchOS 7.2, iPadOS 14.3, and tvOS 14.3." 

And since Apple wouldn't release a service you couldn't use — and it seems like Fitness Plus will come out today, as advertised — it only makes sense that iOS 14.3 will arrive today.

Fitness Plus is Apple's Peloton-like subscription service, and Apple announced it will start with 10 kinds of popular workouts "High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Strength, Yoga, Dance, Core, Cycling, Treadmill (for running and walking), Rowing and Mindful Cooldown."

How is Apple Fitness Plus different from the service you already use? Apple's leveraging its ecosystem so you can plug your Apple Watch data right into the service, so you can see your heart rate, calories burned, progress on your Workout Activity ring on your screen. And speaking of screens, you'll be able to follow along with instructors on the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.

Apple Fitness Plus will show up as a new tab in the Fitness app, and its timing is pretty solid, considering how some do not want to go to gyms as the Covid-19 pandemic is not over.

iOS 14.3: AirPods Max

It would be a shame if you spent $549 on headphones that didn't work with your phone. So, with the AirPods Max release date happening on Dec. 15, it makes sense that Apple would roll out the software needed for those headphones (again, the AirPods Max press release contained fine print that iOS 14.3 was required).

AirPods Max

(Image credit: Apple)

9to5Mac published the release notes for iOS 14.3's release candidate (available to developers and those on the public beta) as adding a number of features including "Adaptive EQ adapts sound in real time to the personal fit of ear cushions."

iOS 14.3: Apple TV Plus updates

Apple's TV app doesn't put a huge highlight on the company's own original programming, or at least it didn't until now. A post in the Apple TV Plus subreddit revealed that iOS 14.3 is adding a tab for the Apple Original programming.

This should make it easier for folks to find the shows that they're paying for, or getting for free as a part of Apple's offer to hand out subscriptions with select hardware purchases.

iOS 14.3: App shortcuts fixed

Custom iOS app icons — where you can create an app shortcut icon to make an alias that opens an app — don't exactly work perfectly in iOS 14. Instead of opening your app quickly, they pause to show that the Shortcuts app is being used to open your app of choice.

This makes it look like your phone is slower than it actually is, and it doesn't look or feel right.

iOS 14 custom icons

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Fortunately, it's been reported that iOS 14.3 will fix this, so your custom iOS app icons just open the app you want to get to, no detours.