iPadOS 14: 6 key improvements for the iPad that you should know

iPad users have a lot to look forward to with iPadOS 14 that was just announced during WWDC 2020. Apart from having an interface refresh, the latest iPad operating system aims to reduce unnecessary distraction and it also brings more power to the Apple Pencil. Here are the top 6 features that you should know.

New Home Screen and Widgets

The latest iPadOS 14 carries over the same redesigned new widgets that were introduced with iOS 14. The widgets can show more information and it also comes in various sizes. You can also discover your apps at a glance via the App Library view and it also allows you to group apps or hide them from the home screen.

New Sidebar

For native Apple apps, there’s a new Sidebar feature which is accessible with a single tap on the top left of the screen. This allows you to see more options or views for apps such as Photos, Notes, Mail, Files and even Apple Music. The sidebar also supports drag and drop and there’s also a redesigned toolbar for more streamline access for the app’s functionality.

Compact Siri Design

Siri now comes in a compact appearance so when you need help, she won’t take over the whole screen. Even the results are shown as a small pop-up so that it won’t distract you from your active application. This approach is also adopted for the iPhone with iOS 14.

Compact call notifications

The same compact approach is also used for incoming calls. Instead of a full-screen takeover, iPadOS 14 will show a floating notification panel at the top where you can choose to answer, reject, without taking you away from your content. This slim approach to notifications is also available for iOS 14 and it even works for 3rd party call apps such as Skype.

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Improved Search

To reduce distraction, Search bar no longer takes over the whole screen. It now appears as a slim floating bar and you can access it anywhere even while running an app. While doing this, your current app is still visible so it doesn’t feel like you’ve left the app just to perform a search.

To make search more powerful, the search bar is now universal and you can do almost anything including launching an app, finding contacts, documents or search the web. You can even perform in-app searches within documents, email and files.

Improved handwriting features with Apple Pencil

Probably the biggest improvement on iPadOS is for the Apple Pencil. To elevate your note-taking experience, Apple wants to make your handwriting as powerful as typed text. With Scribble, any text field that you try to input by handwriting will automatically convert to text.

When it comes to illustration, people who can’t really draw will benefit from the new shape recognition feature which kicks in when you pause at the end. And it converts your drawings into professional shapes without altering the angle and the size.

Selecting handwritten text is also made easier and you can double-tap on it as if it’s typed text. With machine learning, iPadOS is smart enough to differentiate handwritten text from drawings. This also allows you to easily select a large section of handwritten text and move it around to create more space when required. If you need to delete something, just scratch it like how you would cancel a text on paper.

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These improvements allow you to do more with the Pencil without having to put it down. If there’s a normal text field, you can write directly and it will automatically convert to type text with less extra steps required. It also supports multiple languages including Chinese and you can mix languages in the same line without changing any settings.

iPadOS also is also smart enough to understand the context of your handwritten notes so you can make a phone call by tapping a phone number or lookup for a location on maps when you tap on an address. You can also copy your handwriting from notes as text and then paste it as text in another app.

More features to come

iPadOS 14 carries most of the key improvements over from iOS 14 for the iPhone. This includes new Memoji, improved message and maps apps as well as App Clips. As shown above, there’s also support for reduced noise and room reverb for voice memos and the ability to set default email and browser apps.

iPadOS 14 developer preview is available for Apple Developer Program users starting today and the public beta will be released in July 2020. The full version will be released in fall, which is sometime around Q4 2020. iPadOS 14 will support the following models:

  • iPad Air 2 or later
  • all iPad Pro models
  • iPad 5th gen or later
  • iPad mini 4 or later

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Alexander Wong