Apple WWDC 2020 was live-streamed, on Monday, from Cupertino, California, where they announced several upcoming changes to iOS, macOS and iPadOS 14. This branch of iOS built to make iPads more functional and productive focusses upon taking advantage of the device’s large screen and power; with redesigned applications and UI elements which aim to present more information in a less obtrusive manner.
The update this year has introduced new sidebars and toolbars designed to make controls easy to access, a compact Siri UI and search function called Universal Search A new Apple Pencil feature called Scribble hopes to provide a whole new way of interacting with text fields across the user interface.
These are some of the ways Apple is hoping to streamline the user experience. To learn more about the three new additions to iPadOS in detail and if Apple could’ve done more, check out our take below.
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Compact UI Design
As mentioned earlier, this change makes applications for the iPad more functional by introducing dedicated spaces for folders, files and tools you would find in your desktop’s toolbar. For apps like Photos, albums and various sorting options will be visible at all times, in Music playlists will be a touch away and in Notes documents will be lined along the left edge of the screen at all times making use of screen real estate effectively.
Universal Search, Siri and Compact Call Banner
Search on iPad has served as a way for launching applications into Split View, gathering tidbits of information and accessing files since its addition. While extremely useful it always required users to head to the Home Screen — unless they had an external keyboard — and would cover any on-screen information.
With this update, Apple has redesigned this function to appear in a small bar while being accessible from anywhere — even within applications. Siri and Call notifications have received similar overhauls and only present required information in small sections on the display.
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Scribble for Apple Pencil
Since its introduction, Apple Pencil has had limited usability across the iPad’s user interface. But with the addition of Scribble, users will now be able to write into any text field presented to them and see words change into text. Apps like Messages and Safari were showcased during the keynote to help visualise how this works.
In line with Apple’s strong push for privacy, all handwriting conversion to text happens on-device keeping data private and secure.
Improved Smart Selection aims to utilise local machine learning to distinguish handwriting from drawings, allowing handwritten text to be selected and transformed for use in word processors like Pages.
Shape recognition allows for badly drawn shapes to be converted into geometrically perfect figures when adding diagrams or illustration in Apple’s Notes application.
Scribble will initially offer support for English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, and mixed Chinese and English. The last option will allow users to write English and Chinese words at once without the need for switching languages on the device.
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With this release of iPadOS, Apple is reinforcing its focus on AR with a new Depth API built into ARKit 4. Virtual try-on software and testing how paint colours can look on surfaces are just some of the new capabilities that this update will unlock. Location Anchors, another major addition to the ARKit will allow developers to pinpoint locations of interest for AR experiences with improved accuracy.
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Could Apple have made more additions to iPadOS 14?
iPadOS was the reason I purchased an iPad last year. The platform offered a mixture of a mobile and desktop environment providing flexibility to how I used the device. The iPad, while not perfect, works as a great device for my requirements. It can handle browser-based tasks with ease and is great for university and recreation.
The ability to have a maximum of three apps on the screen at once (two in Split View and one in Slide Over) allows for a focussed workflow. The compact design language that iPadOS 14 introduces is a welcome addition in this direction.
The change I appreciate the most is to the search function. The new sidebar design presents more data and tools than before, improving the usability of iPad. Overall, iPadOS 14 feels like one more step in the right direction, provided it maintains a bug-free experience
A major gripe for Magic Keyboard owners has been the lack of this feature and I hope Apple will introduce its digital version — similar to the TouchBar from the Pro laptops.
iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 will also allow users to set third-party applications as defaults for emails and browsing, although information on how this will work is still unclear.
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List of supported devices
iPadOS will be coming to the devices listed below this fall, with the first public beta coming to users in July. The Developer beta was rolled out on Monday.
- iPad Air 2
- iPad Air (3rd gen)
- iPad mini 4
- iPad mini (5th gen)
- iPad (5th gen)
- iPad (6th gen)
- iPad (7th gen)
- iPad Pro 9.7-inch
- iPad Pro 10.5-inch
- iPad Pro 11-inch (1st gen)
- iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd gen)
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st gen
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd gen)
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd gen)
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th gen).
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