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A new iPhone feature in iOS 14 we think you'll love

Apple's new App Clips feature is awesome. We tell you how it works, how you benefit and how to get started.

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Panera Bread's App Clip means you don't need the full app to place an order. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

The next time you use your iPhone to place a food order, rent a bike at a kiosk or set up a smart lightbulb, you may not have to set up yet another app on your phone. iOS 14's new App Clips feature is a miniature version of the full app that will save you time and storage space.

App Clips offer a subset of features you can find in any given application. Without downloading or installing an entire app, you can still use just a "slice" of it for a basic, and one-off purpose, like renting a tourist bike in a new town, placing a reservation at your favorite restaurant or setting up your new robot vacuum cleaner, all without having to install a new app every time. 

Normally, you would only be able to access these features after downloading the entire app and, in many cases, creating a new account or signing in. App Clips is similar to Android's Instant Apps, which, though announced years ago, never really caught on.

Let's take a closer look at what App Clips are, how you'll add them, and what all they can do. 

What are App Clips for iPhone?

App Clips exposes the core functionality of a larger app without making you download or install any software to store on your phone.

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For example, the current process to do something like unlocking an electric scooter requires you to find that company's app in the App Store, download it, create an account and then enter your payment information. It's a process that takes several minutes and isn't very convenient. 

With an App Clip, however, you'd only need to scan a QR Code or tap your phone against an NFC tag on the scooter you want to rent, for example, to display a small card on your iPhone. 

Then, instead of giving access to the full app's functionality, such as a map of where all available scooters are, the App Clip will only include whatever's necessary to unlock and rent the scooter. It will draw on Apple Pay to verify and secure your payment.


It looks and works like a full app, but it's really just a clip. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Are there any App Clips I can check out? 

Yes! We haven't found a lot of them yet, but Panera Bread and ChibiStudio both have App Clips that show a wide range of potential use cases for clips. For its part, Panera will show you the menu for a local location and allow you to order directly from within Apple Maps, while ChibiStudio's app clip lets you create your own personal avatar, or chibi, without downloading the full app. 

You can find Panera's App Clip by opening Apple Maps on your iPhone and searching for and viewing details of a Panera Bread location. Near the top of the details pane will be a button labeled Order Food; tap it, followed by Open. You're now using an app clip. 

As for ChibiStudio, you will need to visit the app's website on your iPhone and tap the Play button on the banner at the top of the screen. 


Sign in with Apple makes it easy to create a new account within an app. 

Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

If it's not the full app, how do I create an account?

Clips will use Apple's "Sign in with Apple" feature, which made its debut last year with the release of iOS 13. The service creates an account for you, linking it to your Apple ID, forgoing the need for you to come up with a new password. And if you want, it can even hide your email address from the service, keeping your personal information private, and keeping you from potentially getting more email spam. 

How do you make payments in App Clips?

App Clips will use any debit or credit cards you've added to Apple Pay. 

How do you add an App Clip?

Adding an App Clip to your iPhone can be done using a number of different ways. App Clips can be a link on a company's website, shared in an iMessage conversation, on a business listing in Apple Maps or by touching your phone to an NFC tag or scanning a QR code with the Camera app. 

Apple also created specialized App Clip codes that let you know it'll add the miniaturized version of the app if you scan it. 

After viewing the info of an App Clip, which pops up from the bottom of your screen as a small card, you can tap on Open to add the Clip to your phone.

Once a Clip is added to your phone, you won't have to go through the process of adding it again to your iPhone the next time you want to use it, unless, of course, you deleted it after you were done. 


App Clip codes are going to be everywhere soon. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Where do I find App Clips I've added?

App Clips won't clutter up your homescreen as regular app icons do. Instead, you'll be able to find them in the new App Library that made its debut in iOS 14. You can easily identify App Clips because they have a dotted border around the app icon. 

The App Library acts as an app drawer, organizing any installed apps and clips into folders based on category. 


The App Library in iOS 14 will hide your App Clips. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

What are App Clips useful for?

You'll be able to use App Clips to join the waitlist at a nearby restaurant, make a reservation or even go through the initial setup process for a connected device like an Instant Pot or smart light bulb

It's up to developers to come up with new ways for you to use App Clips with their apps. Maybe you'll be able to use App Clips to find out which song is playing, try out a new photo filter or to upload a quick video to a social network.


You can use App Clips to view all sorts of information. 


Am I stuck with just an App Clip? Or can I upgrade to the full app?

At any time you can download and install the full app if you need to do more than what the App Clip provides. For instance, if after setting up your smart light bulb you want to connect it to other services or take full control, you could then install the full app from the App Store. 

How do I delete an App Clip? 

Deleting apps on iOS 14 has changed and it can be confusing, and App Clips don't help. You'll find any clips you've used in the app library's recently added folder, and logically you'd think you could long-press on the icon to enter jiggle mode and then tap on the X to delete. But, that's the not case. 

Instead, you'll need to go to Settings > App Clips where you'll find a list of all app clips currently available on your iPhone, and you'll have the option to delete them individually, or all of them at the same time. 

Otherwise, your iPhone will automatically remove a clip if it goes unused for 30 days. 

If you've found an App Clip somewhere and think it's worth sharing, let us know in the comments below.  We've been using iOS 14 for awhile now, and have found a handful of features we love, including the new customizable widget and even some hidden features that are pretty amazing.