Apple’s Cecilia Dantas, from iOS Product Marketing, and Katie Skinner, user privacy software manager (who you may recall from last week’s keynote) join me for some post WWDC 2020 chat.
We talk iOS 14’s new home screen experience, including widgets and the App Library, and touch on Messages and Maps, then dive into Apple’s vision for privacy and how it’s continuously being implemented for users.
Grab some coffee or tea. Make it a double. This is going to be good!
Do you get the sense that Google, company-wide, is all that interested in Android? I don’t. Both as the steward of the software platform and as the maker of Pixel hardware, it seems like Google is losing interest in Android. Flagship Android hardware makers sure are interested in Android, but they can’t move the Android developer ecosystem — only Google can.
The iPhone was made because Apple execs wanted something better than their current phones, and iOS to power that.
Android was bought because Google was afraid Microsoft would lock them out of Mobile and the Pixel was made for several conflicting reasons.
Because of its modular, multi-vendor nature, Android will always be a burden to Google in a way iOS-just-for-iPhone won’t be to Apple.
Likewise, until Pixel as testbed, revenue generator, or halo product is sorted out, the results will always be less than the sum of the agendas.
macOS Big Sur runs on any 12-inch MacBook, the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro from 2013 and later, the Mac mini and iMac from 2014 and later, the Mac Pro from 2013 and later, and the iMac Pro.
iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur
One of the biggest advantages of the modern Mac is that it can better keep pace with new iPhone features and vice versa. More on that in a hot minute.
As a result, some of the new features in macOS Big Sur are similar or the same as the ones in iOS 14, which I covered in a video earlier this week. Rather than double dip on you, I’ll just point you to that video for more.
That includes things like the new Messages group features, and the modern Messages features in general — Sent with Lasers, Finally — and things like Cycling directions in Maps.
The way these features were implemented though, is worth a whole helluva lot of discussion. So more on that in an even hotter minute.
Big Sur also gets the same new, cross-platform-thanks-to-SwiftUI Widgets. Based on the Watch complications, they look terrific, the information density is generally great, the glanceability is aces… but they’re a huge step down when it comes to interactivity.
In other words, if you liked having a calculator widget, that’s gone. At least for now. The new widgets are display only, with everything else handled by deep-linking you into their host app.
Also, unlike iOS, where you can pin arbitrary widgets to the Home screen, or iPadOS, where you can pin a sidebar filled with them to the Home screen, in Big Sur, widgets are still constrained to Notification Center, so you still have to swipe them in and out, like you’ve had to since the old Dashboard days of yore, and yes like an animal. Which is fine if your desktop is littered with app windows but an extra step if it’s otherwise clear.
macOS Big Sur Going to 11
With macOS Big Sur, Apple is finally taking the Mac to 11. Which is great, because all the 10 dots were getting more than a little ridiculous.
I do wish, instead of incrementing the full version number, Apple had dropped it, incremented the point number, and just gone with macOS 16, because right now the much older macOS seems much younger than iOS 14, but I’ve been told it’s incredibly rude to point out an operating system’s age.
Plus, Craig Federighi lays all credit and blame on Apple’s crack marketing team anyway.
And, either way, that Apple finally decided to change the venerable macOS — nee OS X — version number shows just how big a deal they believe Big Sur really is.
macOS Big Sur Boot up
Now, I’ve also already done a whole video explaining the Mac’s Intel to Apple Silicon transition. Seriously, just hit subscribe already! But, there are a few really cool new macOS features that will be coming as part of that transition as well that I just have to go over here.
Namely, to the boot and start up experience.
Because the Mac is moving to the same type of systems-on-a-chip the iPhone and iPad have been using for a decade, the Mac is also getting a very iPhone and iPad-like secure boot process.
That basically means each stage of boot-up is cryptographically verified along the chain, making it much, much harder for malware to get deep into the system.
But, for the Mac version, Apple has added the very Mac-like ability to boot from multiple macOS versions, either on internal or external drives. In other words, as new versions come out, you’ll be able to continue booting into older versions if you want to.
The startup experience itself has also been simplified. So, if you want to boot into a different mode, instead of having to hold down a bunch of random keys, hoping beyond hope you got the right ones at the right time, you just hold down the power button and you get an interface asking you which mode you want to boot into. I love it.
There’s a new Mac Sharing Mode, which replaces Target Disk Mode. It uses SMB to provide access to data between Macs, with the appropriate authentication, of course.
You can also choose between full and reduced security models.
Full security mode, which is the default, is similar to the iPhone or iPad. Super safe but super locked down. The main difference is you can still boot from external volumes on the Mac, even in full security mode. For more mainstream customers coming to the Mac from the iPhone and iPad — and who want to run iPhone and iPad apps on the Mac — it’s the best option.
Reduced security mode, by contrast, is far more flexible and configurable, like the traditional Mac. You can run any old version of macOS, even those no longer signed by Apple, and you can install notarized 3rd party kernel extensions, if you’re into that. For pros and power users, hobbyists, researchers, who want to run anything they want to run on the Mac, this is totally there for you.
Unlike Intel Macs, Apple Silicon Macs let you choose security per macOS install, so you can have your locked down volume and eat your freedom volume cake too.
There’s secure hibernation, so if your battery runs low, you still get full, at-rest protection, integrity, and anti-reply protection.
Recovery is even super smarter. Unlike Intel Macs, which have internet recovery, Apple Silicon Macs get System Recovery. Basically, a minimal, separate, macOS environment in a hidden container that lets you reinstall macOS, even macOS Recovery if and when you need to.
And, yeah, Apple Configurator 2 is also supported.
And I think this shows two important things:
Apple really believes using their own silicon will let them delivery a far better experience to Mac users, and;
That applies to the growing number of mainstream users, for sure, but also to the incredibly important — and vocal — traditional Mac user as well.
macOS Big Sur Design
For my first impressions of the macOS Big Sur design changes, see my weekly column at iMore:
Along those lines, Apple’s now into the third year of Catalyst. That’s the project name for bringing iOS-based UIKit apps to the Mac.
The first year, the first beta apps, were kind of not-very-good-terrible. Basically, missing iOS apps hot dumped on the Mac.
The second year, the first public apps, got better. For all the grousing I’ll do about the traditional App Kit Music apps, the Catalyst Apple Podcast app was almost indistinguishable. They may sound like damning with faint praise, but it was a big step for Catalyst.
Swift Playgrounds was even bigger. As opposed to Developer which was super nice to have but also came off as super last minute.
The third year, this year’s apps, though, are pretty damn good. So good, Apple’s willing to bring the most important app on their platform fully into Catalyst — Messages.
And lets be honest here — despite Apple merging their app teams a few years ago to try and promote better feature parity between apps, Messages just never got the memo. Or effects. Or Memoji. Or much of anything.
As a Catalyst app, though, it has petty much everything, including this-year feature like pinning, mentioning, and inline replies.
And, assuaging my own personal fear, it even maintained it’s exclusive features, like screen sharing. Which, yeah, I still want on iOS so badly.
Maps is now Catalyst as well, and getting caught up with features like favorites, indoor maps, ETA, and look around, and getting all the new stuff, same as the iOS versions, including guides, cycling directions, and EV and congestion routing.
But, more critically, there’s no better way to make sure frameworks get attention than by Apple’s biggest apps, and engineers, feeling their pain first. And wow will porting over apps like Messages do that.
I’ll save my thoughts on what that means for the future of Mac frameworks and development for another video, but for now I think we’re seeing another part of a multi-year puzzle finally falling fully into place.
macOS Big Sur Safari
I covered a bunch of the new Safari features in my iOS and iPadOS videos earlier in the week, and while I don’t want to be duplicative here, I also don’t want to take away from just how big an update it is and how important Safari is.
And not just because of all the cool new customization features on the start page.
The web is standardized but also open, which means a lot of those standards are interpreted by the various browser companies. That also means each company interprets them in a way that best suits that company. For example, Apple has a huge native app platform, so they tend to let the web be the web. Other companies, not so much, so they push for the web to be more native.
Because of Google’s influence on the web, a lot of web developers now code for Chrome instead of the open web, just like they used to code for Internet Explorer. It’s understandable but it’s also detrimental. I hope open web advocates inside Google and the developer community can understand and help avoid the long term consequences of that trend.
Apple, for their part, is continuing to make Safari a first class web experience.
That includes web extensions, so developers can port over what they’ve made for other browsers. But with typical Apple privacy protections, so you can choose to run it just once, just for a specific website, or always.
Support for WebP images, though not yet WebM.
There’s translations, and if you look side by side with Chrome, in some cases Safari is even better parsing all the text fields on all the pages.
There’s a new web authentication API and security code autofill.
And then there’s privacy reports, which shows you all the trackers being blocked.
Now, some are casting this feature as Apple vs. the ad industry and worrying about what it means for the future of monetization on the web. Including people who usually complain about web ads more than champion them… But, anyway, I don’t see it that way.
For me it’s about disclosure and consent. I have no problem with advertising on the web. I don’t think Apple does either, because, guess what, they advertise on the web too.
If it’s a good business, with good business practices, I don’t imagine anyone doing it will be angry or upset about what they’re doing getting an Apple-sized spotlight.
If anything, it’ll make web advertising a better, more upfront, more honest business for everyone. And that would be a huge win for everyone.
macOS Big Sur and You
macOS Big Sur is currently in developer beta. It'll be going into public beta in July with full release scheduled for this fall.
watchOS7 works on the 2017 Apple Watch Series 3, which, importantly, was re-released in 2019 for just $199, as well as the Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 5.
So, yeah, the 2016 Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 — watches with the S2 and its S1P variant systems-in-package — which were released with watchOS 3, are no longer being supported.
And, of course, not every watchOS 7 features, for example the wide screen watch faces, will be supported on the older, smaller design of the Series 3. But, all the base stuff and security updates at the very least.
iOS 14 and watchOS 7
watchOS 7 is getting a bunch of features that are also coming to iOS 14. Since I already did a whole video on that — seriously, hit subscribe, everything is connected! — I don’t want to recapitulate it all here.
But, it includes cycling directions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Beijing, and Shanghai, which offer you a bunch of options so you can choose between the quickest but maybe a more difficult route, like in streets rather than bike paths, or with stairs, or much steeper inclines, or easier but maybe longer routes.
They’re made especially big and easy to read on the Watch, and you can search along the way for bike shops, restrooms, and more.
Dictation is also going on-device, for Apple Watch’s with neural engines, and starting with U.S. English with other languages to follow.
Translation is also going to be offered in 10 language pairs to start, and the Siri Shortcuts app is coming to Apple Watch and can even be added as complications.
Can I get a finally?
watchOS 7 Sleep
Year after year, Apple scratches things off my Apple Watch wish list. On-board LTE, edge-edge display, on-device App Store, always-on-display, and this year it’s sleep tracking.
And it’s both better and worse than I imagined. Let me explain.
I originally wondered if Apple was going to restrict it to new hardware, like always-on-display. A new watch with a special low-power and sensor combination that just made it just work.
But they didn’t. Sleep tracking is coming to existing Apple Watch owners, which is great.
When you go into Sleep Mode, you also go into Do Not Disturb, so you won’t get beeped or buzzed, and the screen Sleep Locks, so it won’t brighten up if you raise your wrist unintentionally. If you do want to see date, time, or alarm settings, though, you can still tap it or press the crown.
It all integrates with the existing iOS Bedtime feature, but it’s smart enough to realize if you’re moving around, you probably aren’t ready for bed yet.
Also, if there’s less than a 30% charge on your watch, you’ll get a notification so you can top it up while you’re getting ready for bed.
To help, there’s Wind Down, which can play sound scapes, run mediation or journaling apps, set Home scenes, and otherwise help you get ready for bed.
To help you wake up, the Bedtime system sounds and, optionally, the Taptic Engine, jump in. Then, you get a good morning screen similar to what Bedtime has been providing on the iPhone for a while.
If you wake up within half an hour of your bedtime window, you’ll be prompted to shut off the alarm so it doesn’t bug you later.
The Watch’s wake up screen also shows you its current charge level, so you can top it up while you’re doing your daily ablutions. When it’s charged, it’ll ping your iPhone so you don’t forget and leave it on the charger.
You can see your sleep stats, daily and over time, which includes the hours in bed and actually asleep, and heart rate summaries.
Won’t you don’t get is any breakdown of the kind of sleep, like light, deep, and REM, that other sleep trackers provide.
Now, it’s possible Apple doesn’t want to step too heavily on the toes of those other sleep trackers. Which wouldn’t be usual. Quote-unquote sherlocking, which means building previously third-party features into the operating system, is still controversial, so Apple will often err on the side of providing base functionality and leave the more advanced stuff to the third parties.
Or, it could be philosophical, or it could just represent what Apple’s providing to existing watches now, and future software and hardware updates may offer even more functionality.
Personally, I’m caught in the middle where I like some of the functionality of both approaches, so we’ll see how that works out when this all goes into release.
watchOS 7 Handwashing
We live in the age of the pandemic where it’s so hard to get your average North American to stay home, wash their hands, and wear a mask that, as several other places around the world see their infection and death rates plummet, some of ours continue to soar.
With that as a backdrop, Apple’s adding an Apple Watch feature that they probably hadn’t even considered more than a few months ago — hand washing.
It’ll automatically detect when you start washing your hands, based on your movement and the sounds of soap and water and give you a 20-second timer so you don’t have to sing happy birthday twice. Then Taptic you when you’re done.
Thanks to location awareness, it will also remind you to wash your hands when you get home, and you can check in the Health app to see how often and for how long you’ve been washing up.
Apple’s doing a lot more with sound recognition in general. Something I forgot to mention is the iOS video is that you can now set up Accessibility to recognize alarms, pets, appliances, running water, crying, and screaming, and alert you. Whether you’re low or no hearing or just tend not to notice when you leave the tap going. It’s on-device, so it’s private, and it’s just terrific stuff.
Also for your own ears. Hearing Health will now report your weekly dose of headphone sound intensity and notify you if you go over safe limits.
Also, you’ll have the the option of limiting loud sounds to anywhere from 75 to 100 decibels, protect your hearing.
watchOS 7 Face Sharing
There are also always new watch faces. Because watch. This year, that’s chronograph pro which sports a tachymeter and can compute speed based on travel time and measure distance based on speed.
X-Large has also been updated with an X-Large complication for people with low vision or massive desire for total watch dominance.
Plus, the Photos face now has dozens of color filters that you can apply to better match your band or your mood.
I still wish Photos had much better, richer complication support, though. Not just because I want a proper Superman watch so bad, but because I legit think it would remove a ton of tension from the custom watch face crowd.
My favorite new watch feature this year though, by far, is Face Sharing.
So, if you make just a perfect travel or workout or hiking or biking or weekend or, sure, brunch face, and your friend wants it, you can just send it right over.
From the iPhone, just go to your watch face gallery, choose the face, hit share, pick a contact, and message, airdrop, or mail it on over.
From the Apple Watch, just long press on the face you want to share, tap the share icon, select the contact, and it’ll message away.
And, yeah, I said long press. Just like Apple has gone away from 3D Touch on the iPhone, they’re now going away from Force Touch on the Apple Watch as well.
I don’t know if I’m change adverse or I just hate the idea, but going deep always felt like the natural expression of Fitz’s law on multitouch. Wikipedia it. Also, a great way to extend functionality when you couldn’t go wide. But, now it’s just going away, not even replaced with Haptic Touch but with overt menu options.
Here’s hoping those will actually end up being even more discoverable to even more people, and 6 months from now I’ll barely remember Force Touch was a thing.
Which, if Apple adds better machine learning to Haptic Touch, I may be able to do with 3D Touch as well. But I digress.
Now, if one of you has a Series 3 and the other a Series 4 or 5, some translation will have to happen due to the difference in the displays. Also, if the face uses third party complications from an app, they’ll be prompted to download them as well.
The App Store will also be posting curated watch faces to go with apps and themes, which is great. Especially because apps can now offer multiple complications, so you can have a full on Fantastical or Carrot Weather watch, if those fine folks choose to make it so.
And, watch faces can be offered online as well, both on the web and via social, so companies — sorry, we call them all brands now, right? — you, mean, anyone at all can share our faves
watchOS 7 Workouts
A watchOS update just wouldn’t be a watchOS update if it didn’t have new workout types.
This year that’s dance, specially latin, Bollywood, hip hop, and cardio dance. It uses sensor fusion to figure out the asynchronous arm and leg movements, so you get credit for every single one of your unce, unce, unce hot steps.
There’s also functional strength training, for every day activities like family sports, carrying things around the house — basically the work from home workout from home stuff.
Core training, and cool down.
Still no snow shoveling or Taiji though. Maybe next year!
Also, Activity is now Fitness, because the scope of what you can do is just so far beyond closing rings now. It’s also been redesigned on the iPhone to improve the information density and glaceability of your data.
watchOS 7 also provides mobility metrics for functional capacity, which uses the Watch’s motion sensors and algorithms to measure low range acid fitness, walking speed, stair speed, and in combination with iOS 14 on the iPhone, step length, double support time, and asymmetry measurements. This, apparently, is stuff that required medical labs in the past and is once again an example of why Apple says their biggest contribution to society will one day be measured by health features, and why I keep saying the Watch is the most important product Apple has ever made. Because it saves lives. Deliberately. By design.
You’ll be able to check all of that out the health app, and medical professionals can build for it with new HealthKit features.
watchOS 7 and You
watchOS 7 is currently in developer beta and will go into public beta in July ahead of a fall release.
Every year for the last many years, the Tuesday after the WWDC keynote is when the Talk Show Live usually takes place with Apple executives as guests. This year, obviously, The Talk Show was held remotely, but the interview was every bit as terrific.
Special guests Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak join [John Gruber] to discuss the news from WWDC 2020: the Mac’s transition to Apple silicon, MacOS 11 Big Sur, iOS and iPadOS 14, and more.
iPadOS 14 runs on every iPad from the 2014 iPad Air 2, the 2015 iPad mini 2, the 2017 iPad, and all the iPads Pro.
In other words, if you’re running iPadOS 13 today, you’ll be able to run iPadOS 14 when it ships.
As always, that doesn’t mean every single new feature will be there, but all the basic stuff and security updates at the very least.
iOS 14 and iPadOS 14
A bunch of the new features coming in iPadOS 13 are part of the core iOS 13 update, things like the new group features in Messages, all the new Memoji looks, and bike, EV, and congestion routing in Maps.
I’ve done a whole video on all of that already, so seriously, hit subscribe and check that out. I won’t duplicate any of it here but I will point out the major differences.
Also, for anyone saying the iPad got short-shift this year, including me in a moment, just remember that Apple kind of dropped trackpad and cursor support all surprise casual like just a few months ago, and while that would have made a helluva WWDC segment, I’m happy we got it in 13.4 and didn’t have to wait half-a-year for 14.0 to ship.
iPadOS 14 Widgets
Just like iOS 14, iPadOS 14 is getting the newly redesigned widgets, the ones that have leveraged everything Apple learned from Watch complications to make them even more informationally dense and more glanceably legible than ever before. Including Stacks and Smart Stacks.
But… as Apple will tell you, these new widgets are not meant to be mini apps. And that means, unlike previous widgets, you can’t interact with them. No buttons. No fields. Certainly no calculators. All you can do is tap them to go straight to their host app.
That might be a limitation due to their SwiftUI Watch Complication origins, because there’s no way to really interact with elements that small, but at iPad scale especially, it also feels like a regression. So, hopefully it’s really just a first step towards a better, more interactive widget future for everyone.
Also, unlike the iPhone, where you can place widgets in amongst the app grid, on the iPad, widgets are staying locked to the side bar introduced last year in iPadOS 13.
So, you get the visual benefits of the new widgets, just not the spatial ones. I’ve heard that this is because Apple felt the bigger iPad display meant they didn’t have the cram the widgets into the grid, but I’ve also heard the tight deadlines just meant they haven’t had time to do it yet.
While I like the clean look of the sidebar, arbitrary widget placement is just more functional, so I’m hoping it’s more the latter than the former.
Same with App Library, which is the new system that organizes all your apps into smart folders at the end of the home page stack on iPhone… and is completely MIA on the iPad.
Again, I’ve heard Apple may not feel it’s needed on the bigger iPad screen and with the dynamic Dock, and that Apple just didn’t have time to implement it yet. Either way, like Gollum and the one ring, I wants it.
If you wants it too, drop a like below so they can see the numbers.
iPadOS 14 App Interfaces
For app interfaces on the iPad this year, Apple is leaning heavily into sidebars. Split view controllers, or having a list on one side and content on the other has basically been the iPad standard since it launched a decade ago, but these sidebars take organization and sophistication to the next level — an almost Mac-like level you could say. Especially since you can not only tap to reveal contents now but drag and drop to re-organize contents.
Not coincidentally, that should also make iPad apps run better on Apple Silicon Macs, and make them even easier to adapt into Catalyst apps.
Same with the return-to-fashionable popovers and the new pull downs, which are like drop-downs.
Sadly, the classic spinning time and date picker, which lost its photo-realism with iOS 7 has lost it’s… everything with iOS and iPadOS 14. It’s now just a functionally non-delightful number entry. I want the original back so badly.
The compact interfaces that coming to iOS 14 are also coming to iPadOS 14, but make an even bigger difference on the even bigger screens. Again, you can check out my iOS 14 video for all the details on Phone, FaceTime, and Siri.
I already mentioned how I wish I could drag Siri result notifications into widgets to keep them around if I need to reference them again. But It’d be great to be able to temporarily just pin any notification if you want, so you can navigate around to look other things up without blowing it away.
With the new Search, it at least persists what you were recently doing if you tap off then call it back.
It’s also Universal now, like macOS Search or, basically, type-to-Siri, which isn’t just great for consistency, it’s great for utility.
iPadOS 14 Apps
App Clips work on the iPad same as the iPhone, but can’t access NFC because no NFC. Also, since there’s no App Library, if you want to find them again and reuse them, they’ll hang out in the dynamic dock and the multitasking workspace interface instead.
Game Center has also gotten a cross-Apple-platform reboot. There’s a new access point, so it’s no longer sign-in and forget-in. You can just tap the AP to see your highlights. You can also tap on your profile pic to go to an in-game dashboard, with your friends, achievements, and leaderboard status.
You can tap in further to, for example, get friend recommendations, change your profiles settings, and more.
Pretty much the entire experience has been updated, including multi-player. It’s like the best of the old Game Center, minus green felt, plus consistency and ubiquity. I hope every game dev adopts it.
Also, and really cool, Game Center is no integrated into the App Store as well, so on the tab pages like Games and Arcade, and the individual game pages, you can see what your Game Center friends are playing, and that can help you decide what you want to play next.
To either challenge or, you know, avoid them…
iPadOS 14 Privacy
Apps also have to ask you now before they can track you, just like they have to ask for camera or contact or location permission.
You can choose to share an approximate location instead of your exact GPS coordinates if you feel like that’s all a specific app needs.
You can limit an app to only specific photos instead of giving them access to your entire photo library.
And if the mic or camera get turned on for any reason, you get a dot in the status bar and control center telling you they’re on.
iPadOS 14 Safari
Safari will also privately, through cryptographic derivation, which breaks my brain just trying to say, check your passwords against known breaches and alert you if they’ve been breached — and also let you change any available accounts to Sign in with Apple if you don’t want to keep around the individual password any more.
I love this so much.
There’s no new Translate app for there iPad like there is for the iPhone, which just adds more bummer to the already huge no calculator or weather app bummer pile.
But, you can translate web pages with Apple if you don’t want to share what you’re translating with Google, and you can tap the Privacy Report button to see all the cross-site trackers that Safari is auto-blocking for you.
I guess we’ll find out if anyone can hear data harvesters scream in ad-space.
Also, Safari now turns on Favicons by default, because the original art is pretty enough even for Steve Jobs now. And you can see more tabs all at once to more quickly move between them.
iPadOS 14 Augmented Reality
ARKit 4 applies to both the iPhone and the iPad, but it’s got a few features exclusive to devices with the fancy new LiDAR scanner. Which is just the latest iPad Pro… for now.
First, the depthy API can now use LiDAR to provide even more precise data for virtual objects and more advanced photo and video editing effects.
LiDAR is also powering better object occlusion, which means virtual objects passing behind real world objects. Like Pikachu running behind a tree.
You can also place AR experiences at the coordinates of famous landmarks and places around the world. I’m so hoping for Kong at the Empire States Building.
And there’s video textures in Reality Kit, so you can map a movie screen to your wall, facial expressions to lego head, ripples to a sink, pretty much anything you want to animate.
iPadOS 14 Accessibility
Headphone accommodations in accessibility let you customize exactly the audio experience you want, amplifying soft sounds, adjusting frequencies, even making a personal profile. Anything you need to hear as much as you possibly can.
iPadOS 14 and Apple Pencil
So, confession, true facts, for real, all of that: As much as I love the trackpad and cursor support we just got, I love the new pencil support we’re getting even more.
See, trackpad and cursor make the iPad more like a traditional computer. Pencil makes it more like a traditional notebook.
First, if you draw a simple shape, like a circle, oval, square, rectangle, triangle, star, pentagon, heart, single or double ended straight and curved arrow, cloud, or word bubble… it’s the same as always. But! If you pause at the end with the Pencil tip still down, it’ll be converted into a smooth geometric shape. More complicated shapes will either be simplified to one of the more basic shapes or ignored completely — yes, you heard me you TTP types.
Next, Apple is treating hand writing like typed writing, which means they’re using machine learning systems to identify writing from doodling and other types of pencil marks, and recognizing the individual characters and strings that compose it. They’re even run machine learning models to generate uncommon samples, like hand written URLs, to train the recognition models. I both love and fear this stuff so much.
Also, you can hand write something, select it, copy it, paste it as is or as typed text, change color, move it, whatever. If what you write triggers a data detector, like a phone number, email address, physical address, or web address — all the addresses — they’ll even be turned into links so you can tap on them to go to FaceTime, Mail, Maps, and Safari. It’s great.
If you’re using a Pencil, you shouldn’t have to put it down to do other things with your iPad. That means, one, you get a floating palette that contains the most common functions of whatever app you’re in so you can quickly pencil tap them. And, two, you can now Scribble into any text field you could previously type into.
Scribble on iPad is similar to Scribble on the watch, just at iPad scale. So, instead of one character at a time, you can just write and Scribble will just covert it to type right behind you. As long as you start in the field, even if you stray out of it. You can also circle words with the pencil to select them or scratch them out to delete them.
iPadOS 14 and You
iPadOS 14 is currently in developer beta. It'll go into public beta in July and be released for everyone this fall.