You want widgets? You got widgets. (Just note that they’re only visible when you hold the iPad horizontally). The search experience is also somewhat more streamlined so you’re not inundated with a long list of results, and in an apparent nod to its desktop cousin, it basically looks like Spotlight Search on a Mac. The design has been cleaned up and revamped a few other ways, too: Phone calls and Siri requests don’t take up nearly as much space on the screen as they used to, and apps like Notes and Apple Music have been redesigned to make better use of an iPad’s screen real estate.
What might be most notable for the iPad are the changes Apple made to the Pencil experience. Like I noted in our iPadOS 14 preview, a new feature called Scribble lets you physically write in any text field with impressive accuracy. If you spend a lot of your time in Notes, you’ll notice that the app now converts your roughly drawn shapes into more geometrically accurate ones, and that you can copy your handwriting and paste it as pure text. We’ll dig into the in and outs of iPadOS 14 in our review, but know that there’s plenty to like here.
With all that said, there were a few things I had hoped to see this year that just haven’t materialized. For one, the entry-level iPad still only has 32GB of storage, which is maybe fine if you never plan to save any files or photos, but less than great for everyone else. To save money, the iPad’s display isn’t laminated, so you’ll notice a sort of hollow thunk when you prod at the screen with your finger or an Apple Pencil. A USB-C port would’ve been nice too, though I get why Apple didn’t do it here — asking cost-conscious consumers to shell out for new accessories kind of takes the value out of a cheap iPad. It’s worth noting though that you get a 20W charger in the box this time, which will refuel the iPad faster way faster than the 10W charger we used to get.
After about a day’s use, it’s clear this year’s iPad falls into the same category the last one did: It’s a great entry point for people who don’t have a tablet or people who haven’t upgraded their iPad in years. It’s also a potentially solid choice for students who are learning at a distance this year — the A10 was already a decent chip, but I have a strong hunch the A12 could run circles around the pokey Celeron processors you see in Chromebooks that cost about the same. All told, we’re off to a solid — if not exactly thrilling — start with the 2020 iPad, but stay tuned for our full, final verdict soon.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.