In the world of smartphones, the iPhone reigns supreme. As one of the most popular devices worldwide, millions rely on their iPhones for communication, entertainment, and productivity. A key feature that makes the iPhone so versatile is its ability to set default apps.
With default apps, iPhone users can customize their experience by choosing which apps launch automatically for key tasks. Whether you want to use Gmail instead of Mail or Chrome instead of Safari, setting default apps allows you to personalize your iPhone to match your preferences.
In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about setting default apps on your iPhone in 2024. Let’s get started!
An Introduction to Default Apps on iPhone
Every iPhone comes preloaded with Apple’s own suite of apps for common tasks like email, web browsing, navigation, and more. These apps include:
- Mail for managing email
- Safari for web browsing
- Maps for navigation
- Messages for texting
- Facetime for video calling
- Music for listening to audio
- Calendar for scheduling
- Reminders for to-do lists
- Notes for note taking
- Contacts for managing contacts
- Camera for taking photos
- Photos for viewing images
While Apple’s default apps are well designed and integrated, you may prefer to use third-party apps. Luckily, Apple gives users the ability to customize their iPhones by setting default apps.
Setting a default app means that links and tasks that would normally open the Apple app will instead launch your preferred third-party app.
Android User! Don’t have an Iphone? Well this is how you set the third party app as a default app on Android. 🙂
For example, if you set Gmail as the default email client, then all email links and addresses will automatically open Gmail instead of Apple Mail.
Some of the default apps you can customize on iPhone include:
- Browser – Set Chrome, Firefox, or another browser as default instead of Safari.
- Email – Replace Mail with Gmail, Outlook, or other email apps.
- Maps – Use Google Maps, Waze, or other map apps by default.
- Calendar – Replace Calendar with Google Calendar or other calendar apps.
- Music – Set Spotify, Pandora, or other music services as the default player.
Customizing your default apps allows you to craft your ideal iPhone experience suited to your unique needs and preferences.
How to Change Default App Settings on iPhone
The process for changing default apps is quick and straightforward. Just follow these steps:
1. Install the Third-Party App
The first step is to install the third-party app you want to use from the App Store. For example, if you want to replace Apple Mail with Gmail, you would search for “Gmail” in the App Store and install it.
Make sure to install the official app from the developer, rather than an unofficial clone.
Install third-party apps from the official App Store
2. Find the Default App Settings
To change default apps, open the Settings app on your iPhone and tap on the app you want to change.
For example, if you want to set Google Chrome as your default browser instead of Safari, you would open Settings and tap on Safari.
The default app settings are located in different places depending on the app:
- Browser – In Safari’s settings, tap “Default Browser App”
- Email – In Mail’s settings, tap “Default Mail App”
- Maps – In Maps settings, tap “Default Map App”
- Music – In Music settings, tap “Default Audio Player”
- Calendar – In Calendar settings, tap “Default Calendar App”
Finding the Default App settings for iPhone apps
3. Select the New Default App
Once you locate the setting, tap on the third-party app you want to set as the new default.
Using the mail example, you would tap on Gmail in the “Default mail App” menu.
A checkmark will appear next to the selected default app.
Selecting Gmail as the new default mailing apo.
That’s it! Now all links and browser-related activities will launch Chrome instead of Safari.
4. Recheck Settings After Major Updates
It’s important to note that major iOS updates can sometimes reset your default app selections back to the Apple defaults.
So whenever there is a major iOS update (e.g. iOS 15 to iOS 16), double check that your chosen default apps are still selected in Settings. If not, simply follow the steps again to re-enable your preferred defaults.
And that’s all there is to it! With just a few taps in Settings, you can customize the default apps on your iPhone.
Why Set Default Apps on iPhone?
There are many great reasons to choose third-party default apps on your iPhone:
Access Preferred Apps
The main reason is simple – use the apps you prefer instead of being confined to Apple’s defaults. If you’re used to Gmail, you can set it as the default email client. If Google Maps is your go-to for navigation, you can enable it system-wide.
Enable Ecosystem Integration
Many third-party apps provide tighter integration when set as defaults. For example, Chrome allows you to easily sync browsing data across devices. Google Calendar makes adding events from Gmail seamless.
Setting default apps enables seamless handoffs between apps. If you start an email draft in Gmail, setting it as the default allows you to resume drafting right from Mail links. Streaming songs transition smoothly when Spotify is the default music player.
User Experience Consistency
Consistency is key for an optimized user experience. Setting defaults eliminates confusion by launching your preferred apps every time.
Customization and Control
At the end of the day, using your favorite apps provides a more customized and optimal experience tailored to your unique preferences.
Default Apps You Can Set on iPhone
While Apple limits some default app options, there are still several categories where you can express your preference. Here are some of the most popular and useful default app options available as of iOS 16:
Replace Safari as the default for opening web pages, following links, etc.
Options: Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera, DuckDuckGo, etc.
Set Gmail, Outlook, or other clients as the default for Mail links and email addresses.
Options: Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo Mail, Spark, Hey, etc.
Enable Google Maps, Waze or other maps apps to provide directions, local data, etc.
Options: Google Maps, Waze, Mapquest, TomTom, Sygic, etc.
Designate your preferred music service as the default for audio playback.
Options: Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, etc.
Replace Apple Calendar with Google Calendar or others as the default for events, reminders, etc.
Options: Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, etc.
Make your preferred search engine the default for Safari searches and Siri web results.
Options: Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc.
Replace the built-in Phone app with Skype, WhatsApp, or other VOIP services.
As you can see, iPhone default apps encompass most of your daily smartphone activities. Setting your preferred options makes your device feel customized to your needs.
Default Apps Unavailable on iPhone
Unfortunately, Apple still restricts customizing some default apps:
Apple Messages is still the only option for SMS/MMS text messaging. Apps like WhatsApp can’t be set as the system-wide default.
You can’t replace Siri with other voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant as the default.
The system Camera app can’t be replaced with third-party cameras as the default.
Health data and activity tracking uses Apple’s Health app by default – no way to change it.
Wallet for mobile payments, tickets, Apple Card, etc. cannot be replaced with Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.
Hopefully Apple eventually opens up these app categories to default app choices. But for now, core system apps remain under Apple’s control on iPhone.
Customizing Home Screen Layout
In addition to default apps, you can also customize your iPhone’s home screen layout:
- Reorder apps -Rearrange apps into your preferred layout
- Add widgets – Surface at-a-glance information from apps
- Customize Today View – Control widget-like info shown when swiping right
- Change wallpaper – Set a background that fits your personal style
- Alter icon layout – Adjust icon grid, spacing, etc. for your desired look
Tweaking your home screen further optimizes your iPhone to match your taste. Just head to Settings > Home Screen to get started.
Using Default iPhone Apps
While setting third-party default apps is great, Apple’s own apps bring excellent integration and capability:
Apple’s voice assistant Siri enables hands-free control of calls, messages, music, reminders, and smart home devices. Integrated with system apps, Siri simplifies iPhone use.
iMessage provides seamless messaging between iOS users with great features like tapbacks, stickers, animations, photos, Business Chat, and more. Deep integration with iPhone makes it incredibly useful.
FaceTime makes staying connected easy with high-quality video calling between Apple devices. Features like SharePlay integrate media sharing into calls.
Safari brings speedy, efficient web browsing to iPhone with integration across Apple devices. It blocks ad trackers and includes robust privacy protections.
The Health app conveniently aggregates fitness data, sleep tracking, nutrition info, medical records, and more – giving you full control over your health journey.
Wallet enables contactless payments via Apple Pay, securely stores tickets/boarding passes, and houses your Apple Card. Features like location-based alerts add convenience.
Apple Maps combines street maps, satellite imagery, indoor mapping, and step-by-step navigation into an intuitive package. Deep system-level integration amplifies its capabilities.
The default Apple ecosystem brings tremendous cohesion across devices. But the flexibility to set third-party defaults lets you craft your perfect iPhone experience. Choose the right balance for your needs.
Customizing Your Ideal iPhone
Your iPhone should adapt to match your lifestyle – not the other way around. With the ability to set default apps, customize your home screen, and leverage Apple ecosystem integration, you can sculpt an iPhone tailored to your life.
Think carefully about your most-used apps and preferred services. By designating third-party defaults and organizing your home screen, you can optimize everyday iPhone use to fit your priorities and habits.
Don’t settle for a one-size-fits-all experience. Take charge of your settings and defaults to ensure your iPhone becomes an extension of your needs and preferences.
With knowledge of the default app options and how to change them, you have full control to modify your iPhone and make it distinctly yours. Adapt it to your work. Tweak it for your hobbies and interests. Shape it to support your family life.
Your customized iPhone setup helps seamlessly integrate your device into every aspect of your world. As your needs grow and change over time, revisit your settings and defaults to realign with your life priorities.
Craft your perfect iPhone to make it the most useful tool and helpful companion each day. With the knowledge this guide provides, you now have the power to tailor it uniquely to you!