Apple has opened its public beta program for iOS 14, iPadOS 14, macOS Big Sur, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 on the Apple Beta Software Program website. One notable difference between this year’s public betas and those of past years is that this is the first time watchOS has been included in the program.
If you would like to sign up but haven’t, visit beta.apple.com and log in using your Apple ID. It should go without saying that you should only install betas on your devices after you’ve taken appropriate steps to protect your data and are willing to endure potentially buggy software.
Stacks are widgets’ superpower. I eliminated a dozen app slots on my iPhone Home screen but replaced them with thirteen widgets. Of course, those widgets aren’t visible simultaneously, but between their built-in smarts and the ease of flicking through them quickly, they don’t need to be. Add deep linking to photos from years past, notes stored in nested folders, and my favorite playlists, and the result is a more personalized, relevant Home screen experience that requires far less tapping around on my phone.
Adjusting to the new setups was far easier than I expected, and even with just the system widgets, the experience has been outstanding.
I like the idea of the App Library, but it does feel a bit redundant. Its top two features, the search box and Siri Suggestions, are also available by swiping down and getting to that Search screen. Yes, the two screens are different—the swipe down brings up the keyboard so you can quickly type a search query (and it searches everything, not just apps), while in App Library you have to tap on the search box to enter text (or just scroll through an excellent alphabetized list of all installed apps)—but they’re not that different.
As much as I like the look of the App Library, I question how much I’ll use it, since I can still swipe down and search for apps from the Search window. It feels like these two features could stand to be redesigned so that there’s less overlap between them.
Apple’s challenge for the future of iPadOS is to rid the platform of features that are only optimized for one of the device’s modes. At this point, it’s evident that any modern iPadOS app needs to feel great both when used with touch and the keyboard-trackpad combo – a unique problem Apple never faced in any of their other OSes before. The changes in iPadOS 14, while not revolutionary when considered in isolation, are part of this bigger narrative, and they’re paving the way for a redefinition of the iPad app ecosystem, powered by an OS built around modularity and multiple interaction methods.
My experience with iPadOS 14 over the past few weeks suggests that while deeper system changes may be awaiting us next year, this year’s update has a chance to put iPad apps on a new trajectory, resulting in a more versatile, desktop-inspired but still uniquely-iPad experience.
Going back and fixing a mistranscription is not quite as elegant as you’d probably like. You can circle words to select them or scratch them out to erase them, but nailing cursor placement and word insertion feels a little haphazard. It’s very close to being great, but there’s a kind of uncanny valley of interaction it falls into.
All that said, I love Scribble for short bits of text, like jotting a search into the Safari URL bar or a quick text in Messages. It makes it so you can leave the Apple Pencil in your hand more if that’s what you’re already using in the first place. There’s a better “flow” to it, to borrow a term from Microsoft’s Panos Panay (who knows a thing or two about pen input on tablets).
These updates bring YouTube and Vimeo integration to Numbers and Pages, in addition to captions and titles to images, videos, and more.
GoPro has joined the growing number of camera makers allowing their hardware to be used as webcams. With a new version of the GoPro Webcam desktop utility, GoPro Hero 8 users can now use their device as a 1080p wide-angle Mac webcam.
Apple has updated its lineup of coding resources for kids and educators across the board and introduced all-new resources for parents and children interested in learning to program from home.
Unreal Engine developer Epic Games has released Live Link Face, an iPhone app that uses the front-facing 3D sensors in the phone to do live motion capture for facial animations in 3D projects like video games, animations, or films.
Apple is reclosing 10 more US stores in California, Ohio, and Tennessee due to deteriorating COVID-19 conditions. The latest round of reclosings adds to 2 stores temporarily shuttered earlier this week for a total of 90 US locations reclosed due to COVID-19.
I’d like to see all the vim, vigor, and vigilance Apple applies to making sure no app on the App Store is making a dime without Apple getting three cents applied instead to making sure there aren’t any scams or ripoffs, and that popular apps support good-citizen-of-the-platform features within a reasonable amount of time after those features are introduced in the OS. I don’t know exactly how long “reasonable” is, but five fucking years for split-screen support ain’t it.
Stay safe. And if you are installing the public betas, stay backup-ed.
Thanks for reading.