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iPadOS 14 preview – what’s in store for iPad in 2020

At last year’s WWDC, Apple announced that the iPad would be getting its own powerful brand of iOS named iPadOS. One year on, at its WWDC 2020 keynote, Apple offered a showcase for the second generation of this initiative, known as iPadOS 14. We’ve run through the main beats of iOS 14, all of which are also coming to iPadOS 14 – but here are the iPad-only improvements we can expect to see later this year.

Sidebars concentrate power in the margins

Apple is subtly shifting its iPadOS UI in a more orderly MacOS-like direction with the introduction of new sidebars and toolbars. Sidebars to the left of Photos, Files, Notes, Calendar, and Apple Music serve to concentrate navigation in one place, while toolbars and pull-down menus along the top supply instinctive app controls.

iPadOS is looking more like MacOS by the year

Pencil mightier than the word

By far the most eye-catching improvement to iPadOS 14 relates to its unique Apple Pencil compatibility. Apple is setting out to make written text as powerful as typed text with Scribble, which grants the ability to handwrite in any text field and have it recognized. You can copy and paste handwritten text, and shift it around a blank page to insert other elements like images. Handwritten numbers can be interacted with (to make phone calls for example), and drawn shapes will be made geometrically uniform.

All-seeing universal Search

Another Mac-like flourish is the new all-powerful universal Search, which can be called up from anywhere – even above apps. This text field lets you search for anything, serving as an instant app launcher, contact and document finder, and web search tool. It can even search inside apps for content.

The new Search gets into everything

ARKit 4 harnesses LiDAR

The latest iPad Pro introduced Apple’s first LiDAR Scanner for advanced augmented reality applications. iPadOS 14 is set to be the first to take full advantage of that hardware through ARKit 4. The new Depth API will enable things like taking body measurements to virtually try on clothes, or letting you virtually paint a room before you commit to doing so in reality. More generally, ARKit 4 will include Location Anchors that utilize the new and improved Apple Maps to pin AR experiences to real-world points.

Calls and Siri stay out of the way

Continuing iPadOS 14’s focus on getting out of the way, any incoming phone or FaceTime calls will pop up as a discrete banner notification rather than taking up the whole screen. Siri, too, will refrain from stopping what you’re doing, with a subtle indicator at the bottom of the screen to show you when it’s listening while you go about your business.

Calls and Siri requests stay out of the way