iPadOS 18 introduces new intelligence features, Apple Pencil apps — but no multitasking improvements

I was mostly happy with Apple’s various announcement at yesterday’s keynote kicking off the 2024 Worldwide Developer Conference. But to say I’m disappointed with the iPadOS info is an understatement.

Today at its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple previewed iPadOS 18 with new intelligence features and more apps with Apple Pencil support. But there was no announced improvements to multitasking, which disappoints me very much. But that’s a rant for another day.

With iPadOS 18, Calculator comes to the iPad with Math Notes, along with new handwriting tools in Notes — all designed for the Apple Pencil. iPad users now have more ways to customize the Home Screen and Control Center, and with iPadOS 18, users receive the biggest redesign of the Photos app to date and new ways to express themselves in Messages. 

With Math Notes, Calculator allows users to type or write out mathematical expressions and see them instantly solved, and assign values to variables to use in expressions.Screenshot

iPadOS 18 also introduces Apple Intelligence, the personal intelligence system for iPhone, iPad, and Mac that, per Apple, “combines the power of generative models with personal context to deliver intelligence that’s incredibly useful and relevant.”

An all-new Math Notes calculator allows users to type or write out mathematical expressions and see them instantly solved in their own handwriting. They can also assign values to variables when learning new concepts in class, calculating a budget, and more. 

With a new graphing feature, users can write or type an equation and insert a graph with just one tap, and can even add multiple equations on the same graph to see how they relate. And Math Notes are automatically accessible in the Notes app in the new Math Notes folder.

The basic and scientific calculators on iPad make it easy to view complete expressions before completing them, according to Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. History helps users keep track of previous calculations, and unit conversions let users quickly convert length, weight, currencies, and more.

With the power of Apple Pencil, Smart Script makes handwritten notes fluid, flexible, and easier to read, all while maintaining the look and feel of a user’s personal handwriting. Smart Script allows users to write quickly without sacrificing legibility by smoothing and straightening handwritten text in real time, Federighi says. And it makes editing handwritten text just as simple as editing typed text, he adds. With Apple Pencil, users can add space, scratch out a sentence, or even paste typed text in their own handwriting, and the paragraph will automatically reflow to fit the new content.

The Notes app brings enhancements to typed text, too. For added convenience, users can now organize the content of their notes by collapsing sections under headings or subheadings. And for information that needs to stand out, they can choose from five new text highlight colors.

iPadOS 18 introduces more options for users to express themselves, including new ways to customize the Home Screen and app icons as well as Control Center. App icons and widgets can be placed in any open position on the Home Screen to create the ideal layout and let a user’s wallpaper shine through. 

They can be customized to appear exactly how users want — light, dark, or with a tint. Users can also make all the app icons and widgets appear even larger, removing the name underneath, for a new streamlined look.

Federighi says Control Center has been redesigned to provide easier access to many of the things users do every day, and it gets new levels of customization and flexibility. The redesign delivers quick access to new groups of a user’s most-utilized controls, such as media playback, Home controls, and connectivity, as well as the ability to easily swipe between each. Users can now add controls from supported third-party apps into Control Center all from one place. Developers can take advantage of the new Controls application programming interface (API) to let their users accomplish even more tasks, like quickly unlocking a vehicle or instantly capturing content for social media.

iPadOS 18 introduces brand-new ways to customize the Home Screen, allowing users to create the ideal layout.

A redesigned tab bar floats above app content and is designed to complement the sidebar to help users stay focused on what matters most while keeping favorite tabs within reach. The new floating tab bar morphs into the sidebar so users can dive deeper into an app’s full functionality. With the redesigned tab bar, iPad users can reorder or add other tabs from the sidebar, unlocking an entirely new way to customize in-app experiences.

The Photos app receives its biggest redesign yet — which takes advantage of the larger display on iPad — automatically keeping libraries organized so users can spend less time searching and more time enjoying their best moments, according to Federighi. A simplified, single view displays a familiar grid, and new collections help users browse by themes without having to organize content into albums. 

Plus, collections can be pinned to keep favorites easily accessible. A new carousel view presents highlights that update each day and feature favorite people, pets, places, and more. Autoplaying content throughout the app brings libraries to life, so past moments can be enjoyed while browsing. Because each user’s photo library is unique, the app is customizable, so users can organize collections, pin collections to access frequently, and include what’s most important to them in the carousel view.

The Photos app receives its biggest redesign yet.

Messages in iPadOS 18 receives updates to the ways users express themselves and stay connected. Text formatting like bold, underline, italics, and all-new animated text effects can be added to iMessage conversations. With redesigned Tapbacks, users can react to a message with any emoji or sticker. What’s more, Messages in iPadOS 18 introduces the ability to schedule messages to send at a later time.

Federighi says Safari  now offers an even easier way to discover information on the web with Highlights and a redesigned Reader experience. Using machine learning, Safari can surface key information about a webpage. For example, users can review a summary to get the gist of an article; quickly see the location of a restaurant, hotel, or landmark; or listen to an artist’s track right from an article about the song or album. 

Additionally, with a redesigned Reader view, there are even more ways to enjoy a streamlined presentation of an article and its summary. iPadOS 18 gives users even more ways to control who can see their apps, how they share their contacts, and how their iPad connects to accessories. 

Locked and hidden apps offer users peace of mind that information they want to keep private, such as app notifications and content, will not inadvertently be seen by others. Users can now lock an app; and for additional privacy, they can hide an app, moving it to a locked, hidden apps folder. When an app is locked or hidden, content like messages or emails inside the app are hidden from search, notifications, and other places across the system.

Users also have more control in managing how apps access their information. When an app requires access to contact information, users can now allow access to specific contacts, not the full contact list. To keep other connections on the network private, developers can now seamlessly pair Bluetooth accessories without relying on other accessories nearby.

Integrated into iPadOS 18 and built with privacy from the ground up, Apple Intelligence unlocks new ways for users to enhance their writing and communicate more effectively, according to Federighi. With brand-new, systemwide Writing Tools built into iPadOS 18, users can rewrite, proofread, and summarize text nearly everywhere they write, including Mail, Notes, Pages, and third-party apps.

Federighi says with Private Cloud Compute, Apple sets a new standard for privacy in AI, with the ability to flex and scale computational capacity between on-device processing and larger, server-based models that run on dedicated Apple silicon servers. When requests are routed to Private Cloud Compute, data is not stored or made accessible to Apple and is only used to fulfill the user’s requests, and independent experts can verify this privacy promise.

Additionally, access to ChatGPT is integrated into Siri and systemwide Writing Tools across Apple’s platforms, allowing users to access its expertise — as well as its image- and document-understanding capabilities — without needing to jump between tools. Federighi says that additional iPadOS 18 updates include:

  • Built on the foundation of Keychain, Passwords is a new app that makes it easy to access credentials and have them securely stored in one place, including passwords, verification codes, and security alerts.
  • SharePlay gets even better this year with powerful updates to screen sharing. Users can tap and draw on their screen to point out what should be done. And for more direct assistance, users can ask for permission to remotely control a device.
  • With Freeform, bringing ideas to life becomes even easier. Users can create scenes to organize sections of a board by topic, or easily present content by moving around quickly.
  • Gaming becomes even more immersive with features like Game Mode and Personalized Spatial Audio, which put players in the middle of the action in upcoming titles like Assassin’s Creed Shadows and RESIDENT EVIL 7 biohazard. And with Game Porting Toolkit 2, developers have new tools that make it easier to bring even more advanced games to iPad, iPhone, and Mac.
  • Calendar becomes more helpful by showing both events and tasks from Reminders. Users can create, edit, and complete reminders right from Calendar.
  • Reminders gets new tools, including the ability to view, create, and edit directly from the Calendar app; access a recently deleted list; and find subtasks in Smart Lists for quick reference.
  • In Apple Maps, users can browse thousands of hikes across national parks in the United States and easily create their own custom walking routes, which they can access offline. Maps users can also save their favorite national park hikes, custom walking routes, and locations to an all-new Places Library and add personal notes about each spot.
  • Accessibility features include Eye Tracking, a built-in option for navigating iPad with just eyes, and Vocal Shortcuts that enable users to perform tasks by making a custom sound.

The developer beta of iPadOS 18 is available through the Apple Developer Program at developer.apple.com starting today, and a public beta will be available through the Apple Beta Software Program next month at beta.apple.com. New software features will be available this fall as a free software update for iPad Pro (M4), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later), iPad Air (M2), iPad Air (3rd generation and later), iPad (7th generation and later), and iPad mini (5th generation and later). 

Apple Intelligence will be available in beta on iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and iPad and Mac with M1 and later, with Siri and device language set to U.S. English, as part of iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia this fall. For more information, visit apple.com/ipados/ipados-18-preview and apple.com/apple-intelligence. Features are subject to change. Some features are not available in all regions, all languages, or on all devices. For more information about availability, visit apple.com.

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Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.