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The 3 Best New iPad Features (iPadOS 14 Is Out Now)

Apple has added a bunch of new features that take advantage of the iPad's big screen and Apple Pencil.


Update: Apple officially rolled out iPadOS 14 on September 16, a day after its big fall event.

iPadOS 14 will be supported on the iPad (5th generation and later), iPad Air (iPad Air 2 and later), the iPad Pro (all models) and the iPad mini (iPad mini 4 and later). You can download the new software by opening the Settings app > selecting General > tapping Software Update.

At WWDC earlier this year, Apple gave us a preview of iPadOS 14, the next big software update coming to the iPad this fall. Well, time flies and iPadOS 14 has officially rolled out. There are a lot of new features, many of which are similar to those the iPhone is getting with iOS 14 — like customizable widgets, picture-in-picture calls, a smarter Siri, an improved Messages experience (thanks to inline replies) and the ability to finally set your default email and browser apps — because iOS and iPadOS are similar in a lot of ways. But Apple is giving its iPad line — iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad Pro — a few exclusive features that take advantage of the bigger screen and compatibility with the Apple Pencil (as well as a keyboard, in some cases).

The Apple Pencil will be able to write anywhere.

The Apple Pencil is getting more intelligent with iPadOS 14. More specifically, it's getting a new feature called "Scribble" that will allow the Apple Pencil to write in most text fields, like in iMessage or in Safari, which previously required you to drop the Apple Pencil and use the iPad's digital keyboard. Enabled by Apple's upgraded handwriting recognition technology, the iPad will also be intelligent enough to turn your handwritten notes into actual text. This will also allow your iPad to tell if you've written a phone number, email address or an actual address; with a quick tap you'll be able to call that phone number, send an email to that address in Mail, or open that address's location in Maps.

ipad ios14

Sidebars will change everything.

Like iOS 14, iPadOS 14 is delivering a bunch of updated features that will help multitaskers and improve organization. One of the most useful is a new sidebar feature that can be integrated into apps like Photos, Music, Shortcuts, Voice Memos, Calendar, Notes, Files and Mail. It effectively makes dragging-and-dropping super convenient and easy. For example, you can easily drag photos into albums in the Photos app; or drag and drop notes into larger folders in the Notes app; or drag and drop songs into a playlist within Music app. And you can do this all within the dedicated sidebar with each app without having to switch between apps or screens.

The iPad is getting a Spotlight-esque search feature.

iPadOS 14 is getting a new search feature that's pretty similar to Spotlight on the Mac. Apple is calling it "universal search" and it will allow you to search for apps, documents or music. It's an entirely novel feature as previous iPads have had search features, but the updated search feature won't take up the entire screen and won't exit you out of the current app or screen you're in. It will again help you be more focused on the task you're actually doing.

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