iPadOS 14 is here, and it looks pretty good -- and our iPadOS 14 hands-on preview will walk you through whether or not you should download it now (which you can). Not only does it revamp the user interface in desktop-like ways that take advantage of its big screen, but it makes the Apple Pencil far more valuable as an accessory.
Revealed at WWDC 2020 on June 22, the big news of iPadOS comes in the form of Scribble, a tool that turns handwriting into text, as well as how the iPad has also gotten some of the best new iOS 14 features as well. The iPad also feels more productive than ever, thanks to the ability to choose third party apps for certain features.
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These features add up to a mighty healthy iPad update. iPadOS also gains a lot of macOS interface changes, for search and more — where iPadOS 14 is making the iPad look a lot like a MacBook.
In years past, iPads would get big updates every other year, with those off-years providing merely minor tweaks, which may be over as a rule. That era appears to be over. Here's everything we know about iPadOS 14 so far.
iPadOS 14 release date
iPadOS 14 comes out today (Sept. 16), likely at around 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT, a time that Apple has historically pushed out major software updates. Apple announced today's release date for iPadOS 14 yesterday (Sept. 15) at its Time Flies event.
We are got our first official look at iPadOS 14 at the WWDC 2020 keynote. There's a seasonal gap between the reveal and release because Apple gives developers advance time to get their apps ready for any changes.
iPadOS 14 compatible devices and requirements
iPadOS 14 runs on all the same iPads that ran iPadOS 13. This seemed like a sure thing, but the iPad mini 4 (from 2015) and iPad Air 2 (2014) were so old that it would not have been surprising to see them lose support.
Here is the list of iPadOS 14 supported devices:
- iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 2020)
- iPad Pro (11-inch, 2020)
- iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 2019)
- iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 2019)
- iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 2018)
- iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 2017)
- iPad Pro (10.5-inch, 2017)
- iPad Pro (9.7-inch)
- iPad (7th generation)
- iPad (6th generation)
- iPad (5th generation)
- iPad mini (5th generation)
- iPad mini 4
- iPad Air (3rd generation)
- iPad Air 2
iPadOS 14 features
You're now going to be able to scribble to type, as Apple's new Scribble feature turns hand writing into text. This lets you markup your to do's on the fly.
You'll also be able to move your handwriting around in notes, like groups of objects. Your handwritten notes can also be copied and pasted between apps.
Want to delete text? Just "scratch" your Pencil tip over the text to erase it. You can even select and alter a large group of items you've written, with your pencil, like a more powerful cursor.
iPadOS looks a lot like macOS now, starting with redesigned search has been redesigned. The new search field looks and acts a lot like Spotlight on the Mac, and can be used to find content in documents, find apps and facts.
Also, many apps, including Photos and Notes, will get a left-side menu, that makes them look a lot like their Mac app versions. Items can be dragged and drop through this menu. Calendar is also getting more powerful menus connected to toolbar buttons.
In the music app, you've got a new redesigned way to listen to your music. After you start playing, you can get a full-screen player mode, making lyrics a lot larger than before.
Phone calls now appear as notifications at the top of the screen, so your entire screen isn't taken over. Siri appears in the corner of the screen as well, adding to what you see, and not obfuscating your screen.
The old way phone call notifications worked, where they took over your whole screen, felt like iPadOS was holding onto the iPhone's interface. Now, all three devices are unified, as the Mac has always had its call notifications in the top right corner.
We noticed that in the background of the iPadOS 14 features slide, the company revealed that you'll be able to set new default email and web browser apps.
This is a long overdue option for both iOS and iPadOS, and the iPhone gets it too. We're still waiting for options for a default calendar app and a default maps app.
The iPad also inherits new features from iOS 14. Those include widgets, which stay inside the smart stack, and don't get to go into the apps section of the home screen like they do on iOS 14. There's also device dictation, group photos in Messages and pinned conversations in Messages (for your favorite folks you don't message all the time).
iPadOS 14 beta
The iPadOS 14 beta was remarkably stable, dropping shortly during WWDC and getting updates throughout the summer. I spent a lot of time on an iPad Pro running the beta, and I didn't run into many glitches at all.
- Check out our iPad Pro (2020) review
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.