iPadOS 18 is getting a big boost with the arrival of Apple Intelligence

Siri will provide more contextual responses while Mail will be better at highlighting priority messages.


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 the introduction of Apple Intelligence and a number of fresh features heading to iPadOS 18, which is due out sometime later this year.

To start, iPadOS is getting deeper customization options for your home screen including the ability to put app icons pretty much wherever you want. Apple's 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 favorites. Next, SharePlay is getting the ability to draw diagrams on someone else's iPad or control someone else's device remotely (with permission) for times like when you need to help troubleshoot.

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

After years of requests, the iPad is also 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 you can save them in case you want to revisit things 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.

In Messages, Tapbacks are now compatible with all your emoji. Furthermore, you'll be able to schedule messages or send texts 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 (like plane flights). Meanwhile, the Photos app will sport an updated UI that will help you view specific types of images while hiding things like screenshots. And to better surface older photos and memories, there will be new categories like Recent Days and People and Pets to put similar types of pics all in a single collection.

Audio controls 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.

Apple Intelligence is a collection of AI-powered features that can do things like teach you how to use specific apps or tools, find files or generate images based on your prompts.

However, the biggest addition this year is that alongside all the iPad-specific features, Apple’s tablet OS is also getting Apple Intelligence. This covers many of the company’s new AI-powered features like the ability to create summaries of websites, proofread or rewrite emails or even generate new art based on your prompts.

Apple says that to make its AI more useful, features will be more personalized and contextual. That said, to help protect your privacy and security, the company claims it won’t build profiles or sell data to outside parties. Generally, Apple says it will use on-device processing for most of its tools, though some features require help from the cloud.

As its iconic digital assistant, Siri is getting a big refresh via Apple Intelligence too. This includes better natural language recognition and the ability to understand and remember context from one query to another. Siri will also be able to help you use your device, allowing you to ask your tablet how to perform certain tasks, search for files or control apps and features using your voice.

An example of using Apple Intelligence to make a custom emoji (called a Genmoji) of a T-Rex wearing a tute on a surfboard.

Some examples of what Apple Intelligence can do is highlight priority emails and put them at the top of your inbox so you don't miss important messages or events. Or if you're feeling more creative, you can use AI to create unique emoji (called Genmoji). And in photos, Apple Intelligence can help you edit images with things like the Clean Up tool. And for those who want the freedom to use other AI models, Apple is adding the option to integrate other services, the first of which will be Chat GPT.

Finally, other minor updates including a new Passwords app for stashing credentials across apps and websites, a new dedicated Game Mode with personalized spatial audio, expanded hiking results in Apple Maps and a new eye-tracking feature for improved accessibility.

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

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