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Apple unveils iPadOS 14, with redesigns for Siri, Search, widgets and more

Apple has today introduced iPadOS 14, previewing all-new features, designs and tools for its fleet of tablets as part of the company’s wider showcase of software overhauls at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Among the most notable changes are the new designs for Search, Siri interactions and incoming FaceTime and phone calls, as well as new sidebars and toolbars for apps and new Apple Pencil features.

“With iPadOS 14, we’re excited to build on the distinct experience of iPad and deliver new capabilities that help customers boost productivity, be more creative, and have more fun,” says Apple senior president of software engineering Craig Federighi.

“With new compact designs for system interactions and new app designs specifically tailored to iPad, even better note-taking capabilities with Apple Pencil, and more powerful AR experiences, iPadOS 14 delivers an amazing experience that keeps it in a class of its own.”

Apple has redesigned the appearance of incoming FaceTime and phone calls, which now notify users with a banner rather than taking up the entire screen.

Siri now appears at the bottom of the screen when called upon, quickly getting out of the way when launching other apps or controlling music.

Where previously users had to exit an app to use the Search feature, now they can use the Search from anywhere. New updates to web search functions means users can see more relevant suggestions as the type. 

Sidebar updates have also been integrated into iPadOS 14, with redesigned sidebars for several Apple-native apps including Photos, Files, Notes, Calendar and Apple Music. Toolbars and pull-down menus have also been streamlined, indicating an effort from Apple to make its app navigation more user-friendly.

Scribble has been integrated into iPadOS 14, letting users with an Apple Pencil convert handwriting to text within iMessage, Safari and other apps.

New machine learning capabilities means handwriting and drawings can be distinguished from one another, so handwritten text can be selected, cut, and pasted into another document as typed text.

Apps will now ask a user’s permission before implementing tracking functions, and users will also be able to choose to share an ‘approximate’ rather than precise location with app developers when granting location access.

Apple says greater transparency will be introduced into an app’s use of the microphone and camera, and later this year the company’s App Store product pages will feature easy-to-understand summaries of a developer’s self-reported privacy practices.

Widgets have been redesigned, and the Home app features new automation suggestions to streamline smart home control.

iPadOS will also benefit from Safari’s new revamp, which provides users with a privacy report which lets them know which cross-site trackers have been blocked, as well as secure password monitoring to detect passwords that have been potentially compromised in a data breach.

Availability

The developer preview of iPadOS 14 is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting today, and a public beta will be available to iPadOS users next month.

New software features will be available this spring as a free software update for iPad Air 2 and later, all iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation and later, and iPad mini 4 and later.