So yeah, it would appear the convergence of Apple’s Mac and iPad software is well underway. There’s one more thing we need to talk about, though: the Apple Pencil. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed this iPad uses Apple’s first-gen stylus from five years ago, but at least iPadOS 14 gives you more ways to use it.
The most notable Pencil-focused addition is Scribble, which lets you just start writing in any text field. From there, iPadOS does its best to render your chicken scratch into machine-readable text. You don’t have to get your pen strokes smack in the middle of the field either! As long as you’re close, iPadOS will figure out where you actually meant to write and take it from there.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit my penmanship ranges from pretty good to doctor-level illegible depending on how fast I’m going, but I’ve been surprised by how accurate the results have been. Of course, mistakes happen, and thankfully it’s easy enough to fix errors with a cluster of on-screen controls that appear at the bottom of the screen. This is my one quibble with Scribble: If you flub a URL or a Google search term, having to move your hand down to those controls can get you out of a groove pretty quickly. I know how minor this sounds, but if you’re like me and make back-to-back typos all the time, the back-and-forth gets old fast.
The smart move would’ve been for iPadOS to dynamically place that “palette” on screen depending on where the text field you’re writing is. I’m adding that to my wishlist for iPadOS 14.1. Still, if you’re the type of person who uses the Pencil frequently anyway, I can’t overstate how helpful Scribble is; it means you don’t have to put the Pencil down to use all your other software.
Speaking of other software, the Notes app has been revamped with a slew of new Pencil features. If you deal with diagrams frequently, Notes will “quantize” your doodled polygons, arrows, and hearts, turning them into geometrically precise figures. If marking up flowcharts isn’t your thing, you can double-tap anything you’ve written to select it — from there, you can select as much of your scrawl as needed and paste it as plain text, or just rearrange it on the page. Perhaps best of all, the Notes app is constantly processing what you write as soon as you write it, so it knows to treat some snippets differently than others.