The iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 reveals at WWDC gave users a lot to be excited about, but left us wondering about the differences between those platforms, differences that we've been learning about all week long. And since the differences are so stark, and often confusing, we've decided to pit iOS 14 vs iPadOS 14, and take a look at how they differ.
While I'm not going to make a big deal out of some of the differences, the iPhone and iPad have significantly different use cases at times — especially when you're out of the house. But some of these differences make me wonder if Apple's internal deadlines for some apps pushed some features to iOS or iPadOS 14.1 version, or later.
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iOS 14 vs. iPadOS: Widgets are better on the iPhone
Stacks and smart stacks are the same, but the iOS 14 widgets can be moved to live alongside app buttons, which is what I wanted from iPadOS 14. Unfortunately, widgets are locked down into the Today view sidebar on the left side of the iPad home screen.
In theory this could be because they already have a place on the home screen, where your existing Today view mini apps sat. On the iPhone, Apple's got nowhere in the home screen itself to really put widgets, so they have to sit on the home screen if they're going to make a difference.
This still doesn't feel like the right call, though. A perfect solution, at least in my eyes, could see widgets live wherever on the 10.2 to 12.9-inch iPad screens they could sit. Then, you wouldn't need to have the Today View bar always there, and get more control over your home screen. The iPad has more screen space, why shouldn't you be able to maximize it?
iOS 14 vs. iPadOS: iPads don't get the App Library
You know how iPhones will do your home screens housekeeping for you in iOS 14, with the App Library that takes all of your apps and organizes them by category? For some reason, that's not coming in iPadOS 14.
And with all of the big changes coming in iPadOS 14, which make it look more like macOS than before, App Library would have fit well in this new environment. It would have become iPadOS' version of the Start Menu.
It's not like your iPad can't have a series of poorly organized home screens of apps strewn about everywhere, like a bunch of plushies in a toddler's crib. I'd share my lock screens to prove it, but I have a sense of shame.
iOS 14 vs. iPadOS 14: Easier emoji hunting for iPads
Practically every app outside of Apple's has added the ability to search for emoji. And while we're happy to see the emoji search bar arrive in iPadOS 14, it's not going to be on iOS 14 — so iPhone owners will continue to need to memorize how the sheets and sheets of emoji are laid out, or waste time hunting and pecking for the right one.
There's one way to explain this difference: the emoji search pops up on the iPad when you use a connected keyboard. Most folks, I'd guess, aren't going to connect an iPhone to an external keyboard that often. Sure, you can, but the small screen and a big keyboard makes for an awkward, cumbersome experience.
That being said, a simple text field for search isn't going to take up a lot of space on the screen. And why should iPhone users be expected to rely on the frequently used sheet.
iOS 14 vs. iPadOS: Menus and Pencil tricks are for big screens
I went through this when I talked about how iPadOS is becoming more like macOS: apps like Photos, Notes and Drive now have a left menu pane. That change, which moved them from tabs on the bottom of the screen to the more Mac-like sidebar section, makes a lot of sense. Not a big deal that iOS 14 isn't getting them, because the iPhone doesn't have the space for them.
Similarly, I'm not shocked that the iPhone isn't getting Pencil support any time soon. Still, the Scribble handwriting recognition would have been a big deal for the iPhone. I'm sure some folks would love to write shorter messages out with their fingertips. It makes more sense than swipe-typing to me.
iOS 14 vs. iPadOS: Whole apps are missing from the iPad
The new Translate app, used to help people talk across language barriers, isn't in iPadOS 14. While some apps don't need iPad versions, this one confuses me. If you've ever seen a tourist in New York, especially if they're clearly a dad, you know they use their iPad as a camera (they're not the only ones that do this, but it's a clear and visible trend). With that established, wouldn't the iPad be a perfect device for translating, if tourists are often carrying it with them in public?
Apple has still yet to add the Health app to the iPad, either. We're not sure why, maybe it's because of keeping sensitive personal information on as few devices as possible, but I bet all that sleep-tracking data would look a lot more easily digestible if I had the iPad's larger screen.
Similarly, Apple believes the iPad only needs a Weather widget, as there is no full-blown Weather app in iPadOS 14. Peculiar, right? The iPad's display could make it easy for you to see the weather in your neighboring towns and cities on the same screen. Hopefully this gets corrected soon.
Also, iPadOS 14 doesn't fill the calculator shaped hole in the iPad. This is the biggest head-scratcher, as the iPad's big screen is perfect to use all the buttons you see when you rotate your iPhone's calculator app into landscape mode.
iOS 14 vs. iPadOS: Speed Cameras and Car Keys are iPhone exclusives
iPadOS 14 lacks some of the navigational and driving features you get in iOS 14, and I'm not going to hold that against Apple. Specifically, the iPhone and iPad will both get directions and help with regard to cycling and electric vehicle routes.
But the iPad isn't going to have the Speed Cameras tool, used for being aware of speed traps and cameras tracking behavior at red lights. This makes more sense to me than any of the other exclusions, because while routing tips can be helpful for planning where you're going, these more "in the moment" tips seem more suited to the iPhone, which is used more often for navigating as you drive and travel.
An iPad is a bit too big to be used by a driver, and I've never seen a dashboard mount big enough for one. Similarly, Car Keys (for unlocking your car) isn't on the iPad. Who would rather take out their iPad than their iPhone when it comes time to unlocking their Prius?
iOS 14 vs. iPadOS 14 outlook
It feels like half of these differences are due to the ways we engage with iPads and iPhones, and the rest can be filed under "please, Apple, share the wealth." Comparing iOS 14 vs iPadOS 14 isn't about finding a "winner" but trying to get people's expectations in order for when the public beta debuts in July, and the finished versions appear this fall.
I also hope that Apple is reading this so that it adds some of the best iOS 14 features to iPadOS 14 sooner than later...
- Check out the top 15 hidden iOS 14 features