Every year at its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple lays out its roadmap for the next releases of each of its operating systems. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Apple to record its keynote presentation ahead of time rather than having it live, but the company doesn’t seem to have tempered its ambitions for iOS 14 and iPadOS 14.
Apple never promises ship dates this early in the process, but it’s a good bet that we’ll see these operating system updates in September or October, given past release dates.
Here’s what to look forward to!
iOS 14 brings a huge change to the look and feel of iOS, thanks to a revamped Home screen. Apple has finally acknowledged that most people know what’s on the first Home screen page and maybe the second, and everything after that is a jumbled mess.
To address that problem, iOS 14 introduces the App Library, which is the rightmost Home screen page. It collects all your apps. It groups apps by Suggestions, Recently Added, and curated categories like Creativity, Entertainment, and Social. Inside each group, all your apps appear alphabetically for easy access. With the App Library, it’s easy to add apps to the Home screen and remove Home screen pages you don’t need anymore.
Even more radical is how iOS 14 lets you break widgets out of Today view and embed them on the Home screen in a variety of sizes. No more opening a weather app just to see the temperature—a widget can give you a quick overview of the conditions and forecast. Or a stock widget can show you just how much AAPL has gone up since the announcement.
You’ll also notice instantly that Siri no longer takes over the entire screen, instead showing you an icon that indicates it’s listening and putting the results in panels on top of whatever app you’re using. Similarly, call notifications will be presented as a standard notification banner rather than obscuring the app you were using. Voice dictation now happens on the device, which should improve responsiveness and privacy. Siri can do translations now, and a new Translate app makes it possible to have a conversation with someone in an unfamiliar language.
Needless to say, there are many other smaller changes. New “App Clips” let you use a tiny bit of an app without installing the whole thing, which is ideal for renting a scooter without having its app, for instance. For those who watch video on an iPhone, iOS 14 now supports picture-in-picture. And for some people, the most welcome change will be the option to specify your own default Web and email apps.
iOS 14 works with the iPhone 6s and first-generation iPhone SE and later, and with the seventh-generation iPod touch.
As you’d expect, iPadOS 14 gains all the iOS 14 changes, including the App Library, widgets on the Home screen, and so on. But Apple has also spent some time making iPadOS work more like macOS, redesigning and adding sidebars to many apps, putting toolbars at the top of the screen, and adding pull-down menus to apps like Files. Apple also overhauled the iPadOS search experience, trading the previous full screen look for a simple gray bar that—you guessed it—looks a lot like the macOS Spotlight search interface.
The other massive change for iPadOS is Scribble, Apple’s marketing name for its new handwriting recognition feature. Anywhere you can enter text, you’ll be able to write with your Apple Pencil and have your writing converted to typed text (in English or Chinese, at least). All transcription happens on the device for performance and privacy reasons. You can also select handwritten words by circling them, scratch words to delete them, touch and hold between words to add a space, and more.
In Notes and other apps that support handwriting, you’ll be able to select words or sentences with double and triple taps. A shortcut palette lets you perform common actions without using the onscreen keyboard, including Copy As Text, which lets you copy handwritten text and paste as typed text. Other Apple Pencil gestures include dragging to select and adding or deleting space between sentences or paragraphs. Finally, shape recognition lets you sketch a rough shape and have it automatically converted to a perfectly drawn version.
iPadOS 14 works with the fifth-generation iPad and later, the iPad Air 2 and later, the iPad mini 4 and later, and all models of the iPad Pro.
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