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iPadOS 18’s Smart Script uses machine learning to make your handwriting less horrible

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Last month, Apple’s tablets got a major revamp with the arrival of the M4 chip, two size options for the iPad Air, updates to the Magic Keyboard and a new iPad Pro packing a fancy Tandem OLED display. And now at WWDC 2024, Apple is looking to flesh out the iPad’s software with a number of fresh features heading to iPadOS 18, which is due out sometime later this year.

To start, iPadOS is getting new customization options for your home screen including the ability to put app icons wherever you want. Control Center has also been expanded with support for creating multiple lists and views, resizing and rearranging icons and more. There’s also a new floating tab bar that makes it easy to navigate between apps, which can be further tuned to remember your favorite software. Screen Share is getting the ability to draw diagrams on someone else’s iPad or even share their screen.

The Smart Script tool in the Notes app on iPadOS will make your handwriting less messy and easier to edit. The Smart Script tool in the Notes app on iPadOS will make your handwriting less messy and easier to edit.

Apple

After years of requests, the iPad is now getting its own version of the Calculator app, which includes a new Math Notes feature that supports the Apple Pencil and the ability to input handwritten formulas. Math Notes will even update formulas in real-time or saved in case you want to revisit them later. Alternatively, the Smart Script tool in the Notes app uses machine learning to make your notes less messy and easier to edit.

General privacy is also being upgraded with a new feature that lets you lock an app. This allows a friend or family member to borrow your device without giving them full access to everything on your tablet. Alternatively, there’s also a new hidden apps folder so you can stash sensitive software in a more secretive way.

A general overview of new features coming to iPads in the next version of iPadOS.A general overview of new features coming to iPads in the next version of iPadOS.

Apple

In Messages, Tapbacks are now compatible with all your emoji. You can also schedule messages and even send messages via satellite in case you aren’t currently connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular network. Apple even says messages sent using satellite will feature end-to-end encryption.

The Mail and Photos apps are also getting similarly big revamps. Mail will feature new categorizations meant to make it easier to find specific types of offers or info. Meanwhile, the Photos app will receive a new UI that makes it easier to scroll through your timeline to find specific images while hiding things like screenshots. And to help surface older photos, there will be new categories like Recent Days and People and Pets to highlight your top shots across a range of scenes and environments.

Audio on iPads is also getting a boost with a new ability for Siri to understand gestures for “Yes” and “No” by either shaking or nodding your head while wearing AirPods. This should make it easier to provide Apple’s digital assistant with simple responses in areas like a crowded bus or quiet waiting room where you might be uncomfortable talking aloud.

Catch up here for all the news out of Apple’s WWDC 2024.

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