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Apple just announced iPadOS 18. Here are the most exciting features

Home Screen of the M4 iPad Pro.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) started today. This annual event is one of the biggest for Apple of the entire year, giving us an early look at the company’s next software updates for its biggest products.

One of the many announcements at WWDC 2024 was iPadOS 18 — the next major software update for the iPad. The upcoming iPadOS 18 has a lot in common with iOS 18, and when it arrives on your iPad later this year, it’ll be chock-full of new features for you to check out. Here’s what’s new.

Home screen, apps, and control center updates

Two iPad Air models showing the screens.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The fact is that iPadOS 18 is getting many of the same updates as iOS 18, like apps that can be placed freely wherever you want and more easily rearranged around your home screen background. It’ll also support dark mode, letting app icons take on a darker tone, while a new theme engine lets you apply custom colors across your apps for increased personalization.

Other changes include a new, more customizable Control Center, with shortcut buttons that can be rearranged on the Control Center view and placed across multiple pages. You’ll be able to swipe between pages of controls. There are toggles now for the most important features, and media and smart home controls are revamped and easier to access. For the first time, third-party apps will offer Control Center integration. You’ll also finally be able to change the lock screen shortcuts, like the Flashlight and Camera, to whatever default app you want.

iPadOS 18 home screen and Math Notes feature.
The new iPadOS 18 home screen (left) and the Math Notes feature Apple

A new floating tab bar is also rolling out in some apps for better app navigation. There’s a Tab bar API, so developers can use this in their apps, too.

The Settings app is also getting a welcome revamp for easier navigation, better organization, and more reliable search. This is huge because the Settings app hasn’t been touched since the first generation of the iPad and has steadily grown cluttered and unmanageable. Last but not least, there is going to be a new wallpaper pack.

Like iPhones, the iPad will be able to take advantage of the new Photos app with a new unified view to reduce clutter. You’ll see the Gallery at the top, with memories and collections below it. You can now view by years or months if you want to access a specific time.

Shareplay

Shareplay includes a new screen-sharing feature, allowing you to tap and draw on someone else’s screen and remotely control their iPad if you need to provide tech support.

Calculator and math notes

Math Notes feature in iPadOS 18.
Math Notes in iPadOS 18 Apple

The long-awaited calculator app is finally available on the iPad. And when we say long, we mean it’s taken 14 years for Apple to bring a calculator app to the iPad. It offers features like history and unit conversions.

There are math notes in the calculator app. You can write out expressions — once you write an equal sign it’s solved immediately for you. You’ll also be able to save math notes and come back to them later. For example, if you write a bunch of numbers in a vertical row and draw a line below them, you’ll get their sum.

All of the math note features are supported in the Notes app, too.

Smart Script

One of the most unique new additions is Smart Script. Working with the Apple Pencil, Smart Script will improve and refine the look and tidiness of your writing with handwritten notes. It’ll be smoother, straighter, and more legible while still being your writing. Spell-check will also work for handwritten notes — and if you scratch something out, it’ll erase.

Apple Intelligence and Siri

As expected, AI features are coming to iPadOS 18, with all the processing done on the device itself. AI will be incorporated into first-party apps, including Mail and Messages, letting you rewrite, summarize, and organize text. Image generation will also be available, letting you create original images.

For Siri, Apple says it’ll be more capable and relevant for users. You’ll be able to ask it questions across devices, and it’ll inform you about how to make use of features like Send it Later.

The first developer beta of iPadOS 18 is available today. A public beta will follow later, followed by an official release to iPad users in the fall.

Editors' Recommendations

Ajay Kumar
Freelance Writer, Mobile
Ajay has worked in tech journalism for more than a decade as a reporter, analyst, and editor.
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