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Ditch Apple's Mail and Safari apps on your iPhone or iPad with iOS 14's default app feature

Use Gmail, Chrome or another third-party email or web browser instead of Apple's own apps.


We'll show you how to set default apps on your iPhone or iPad. 

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

One of the proudest bragging rights Android owners have used against iPhone owners over the years has been the ability to change the default apps their phones use. Well, that and the ability to fully customize their home screen.

With the release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, you can feel Apple loosening its grip on the iPhone and iPad by adding the option to put widgets on the iPhone's home screen, create custom app icons and, although somewhat limited, change the default apps for email and web browsing. 

That means you can use Gmail or Google Chrome -- or any other app of your choice -- and finally leave Safari and Apple Mail behind. It's a big step for iPhone ($500 at Best Buy) and iPad ($299 at Amazon) users, and one that was sorely overdue. 

The process to change over your default mail and browser app is really simple, but also somewhat hidden. Apple doesn't make it as easy as Android, where there's a dedicated section for setting default apps in settings. You have to know where to look, and below, we'll show you where that is.


It's true, you can set some default apps on iOS 14. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Set your default mail or browser

In order to use another app as an email or web browser replacement, the developer will need to update the app with support for the new feature. Make sure to check the App Store for any updates before trying to change your default app. Here's what you need to do.

Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad. Scroll down until you find the app you want to use. For example, find Google Chrome if you want it to be your main browser. Or Outlook if you want to use it as your email app and tap it. Select the appropriate option, either Default Browser App or Default Email App. Pick from the list of available apps on the next screen, then back out of settings. 

With a new default app set, anytime you click a link, your preferred browser will open. Or whenever you tap an email address, your email app will launch. It's about time Apple added this capability. Now if only that bug fix could be released so we don't have to keep resetting it.

Default apps aren't the only hidden feature in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 -- we found a bunch. Of course, there are some headlining features that change how you'll use your iPhone or iPad, and there are even some new privacy features that should keep your information more protected

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