As the year winds to a close, many frenzied smartphone users haven’t had the chance to explore major updates to the Google and iPhone operating systems that arrived this fall. As you finally get a breather — or maybe even a new phone in your gift haul — why not start with some of the more personally engaging features that can help you ease into Android 14 or iOS 17? Here are some highlights.
Google’s release of Android 14 was focused largely on improving security and accessibility features. But Google has also added fresh ways to customize phone screens with new wallpaper, app widgets and shortcuts. To get started, open the Settings app, select Wallpaper & Style and make your choices to personalize your device.
Apple has plenty of options in its iOS 17 Wallpaper settings, but with last week’s iOS 17.2 update, users can get deeply personal in a different way with the new Journal app included with the software; it’s also in the App Store. Journal is a free digital diary for recording thoughts and feelings through text, images and topic suggestions. You can back up your encrypted entries to your iCloud account, where you get five gigabytes of free online storage before Apple starts charging.
Apple’s multimedia Journal is similar to third-party apps like Day One and Journey, which have free and paid premium versions. While Google has not yet added its own dedicated diary app to Android, some people use the company’s free Keep and Docs apps for their pensive moments.
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