iPadOS 18's SmartScript uses machine learning to make your handwriting less intimidating.

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Last month, Apple's tablets got a big shakeup with the arrival of the M4 chip, two size options for the iPad Air, updates to the Magic Keyboard and a new iPad Pro with a fancy tandem OLED display. And now at WWDC 2024, Apple is trying to beef up the iPad's software with a number of fresh features leading up to iPadOS 18, which is due out later this year.

For starters, iPadOS is getting new customization options for your home screen, including the ability to place app icons wherever you want. Apple's Control Center has also been enhanced 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 easier to navigate between apps, which can be further tuned to remember your favorite software. Next, Screen Share is getting the ability to draw a diagram on someone else's iPad or share their screen for those times when you need to help a friend or relative with a problem. .

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After years of requests, the iPad is now getting its own version of the Calculator app, including a new Math Notes feature that supports the Apple Pencil and the ability to input handwritten formulas. Even Math Notes will update formulas in real time or save if you want to revisit them later. Alternatively, the SmartScript tool in the Notes app uses machine learning to make your notes less cluttered 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 hide sensitive software more covertly.

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In Messages, tapbacks are now compatible with all your emojis. Additionally, you'll be able to schedule messages or send texts via satellite if you're not currently connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular network. Apple even says that messages sent using satellite will feature end-to-end encryption.

The Mail and Photos apps are getting similarly big changes. Mail will introduce new categories aimed at making it easier to find specific types of offers or information such as airline flights. Meanwhile, the Photos app will get an updated UI that will help you see certain types of photos while hiding things like screenshots. And to help bring out old photos and memories, there will be new categories like Recent and People and Pets to put similar photos together in one collection.

Audio on iPads is also getting a boost with a new ability for Siri to understand “yes” and “no” signals by either shaking or shaking your head while wearing AirPods. This will make it easier for Apple's digital assistant to provide simple answers in areas like a crowded bus or a quiet waiting room where you might be uncomfortable talking out loud.

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However, the biggest addition this year is that Apple's tablet OS is getting Apple Intelligence, along with all the iPad-related features. It covers many of the company's new AI-powered features such as the ability to create summaries of websites, proofread or rewrite emails or even create new art based on your cues.

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 create profiles or sell data to outside parties. In general, Apple says it will use on-device processing for most of its tools, though some features require support from the cloud.

As its popular digital assistant, Siri is getting a major refresh via Apple Intelligence. This includes better natural language recognition and the ability to understand and remember context from one question to another. Siri will also be able to help you use your device, allowing you to ask your tablet how to perform certain tasks, find files or apps using your voice. And features should be controlled.

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

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