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Apple mobile device users have long asked the company to choose their own default email client and web browser. Apple has finally fulfilled this wish with iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. Now, iOS and iPadOS users can not only choose which web browser and email client to use on their mobile device, they can also set several popular third-party apps as their default apps. This means that if you tap on a link in an email or an email link from a website, for example, the default app you selected will now open instead of the Apple app you selected. With iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, you can now use your favorite email client and web browser for almost anything.
This feature is just getting started, so there are still a limited number of email clients and web browsers that you can set as alternative defaults. However, this number will inevitably increase over time. Currently, you can replace the default Apple Mail with the following apps: Google Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, Boomerang, Polymail and HEY. Likewise, there are few web browsers that can replace the standard Apple Mobile Safari: DuckDuckGo privacy browser, Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Brave. However, we expect Opera to be added to the roster soon. We’ll show you an easy way to change these settings. It’s the same process on both your phone and iPad.
How to swap Mail and Safari standard apps
First, make sure you update your mobile operating system to 14.0.1 as a bug in the earliest version caused the defaults to automatically reset to Mail and Safari after restarting your device. Also, make sure that the app you want to sign into has already been downloaded to your device.
For email clients, go to Settings> [App] Name> Default Mail App.
For web browser go to Settings> [Browser] Name> Default Browser App.
Any standard app installed will be displayed on these screens. So if you go to Settings> Chrome> Default Browser App, it will show Firefox, Safari and Chrome if they are already installed on your system. Note that qualified third-party web browsers must use Apple’s WebKit engine. Hence, your preference will depend on proprietary app-based features rather than rendering speed or choice of rendering engine. For example, you may prefer ad blocking, bookmark syncing, search shortcuts, or other features of a browser.
Note that some apps open web links in internal web views based on the Safari engine without you having to switch to another app. You will continue to do this even if you change your default browser. This can also be the case with emails where tapping an email to link in Safari opens a draft in Safari instead of sending it to your newly set default email app.
After you’ve set a third-party app as the default, some apps may ask you to open the link in the new default app. It’s also possible that third-party browsers are a little slower than Safari because Apple engineers are more familiar with their own operating system or even have access to certain frameworks that other companies don’t.
Look forward to more apps
Now that you can assign your own defaults using email and browser apps, other options may be in the making, although there is no specific schedule. For example, Facebook just wants you to be able to choose your own messenger instead of Apple’s Messages as the default messaging app in iOS. Lastly, this feature is also possible in Android, where you can use third-party apps to send and receive SMS messages. Likewise, many people would rather use Google Maps than Apple Maps or even Google Photos over iCloud. It remains to be seen how far Apple will open the door to third-party services to satisfy user desire for customization.