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Pick up an iPad Air? Here’s how to get the most out of iPadOS 14 and Apple Pencil

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Whether you’ve recently picked up the 2020 iPad Air or will be getting one soon, there are a number of great new capabilities and features to enhance your experience between the new hardware, iPadOS 14, and Apple Pencil. And even if you’re keeping your existing iPad, follow along for how to get the most out of iPadOS 14 and Apple Pencil.

While some of the features we’ll discuss are unique to the iPad Air (or the 2018 and later iPad Pro) such as USB-C connectivity and Apple Pencil gen 2 support, you still get a lot of useful improvements with iPadOS 14 on any iPad that can run the software.

And if you’re wanting a new iPad but are torn between the new Air and the 2020 iPad Pro, check out our walkthrough here:

Apple Pencil gen 2 support and new features

It’s definitely exciting to see support for the second-generation Apple Pencil arrive with the iPad Air. Until now, Apple’s most capable writing and illustration tool has only been compatible with the iPad Pro line, while the other iPads have been relegated to working with the original Apple Pencil.

Apple Pencil gen 2 has a more ergonomic design, uses wireless charging when attached to your iPad (instead of a Lightning connector which can be clunky), comes with tap gestures to do things like quickly change writing instruments and more, and provides an all-around improved experience for everything from illustration and other creative work to note-taking and productivity tasks like email.

With iPadOS 14, iPad Air users get great Apple Pencil capabilities with the new Scribble feature. This allows you to write in any text box on your iPad with Apple Pencil and also includes built-in shortcuts to quickly select, delete, and insert text.

Another great improvement for Apple Pencil with iPadOS 14 is the improved note-taking capabilities. You can select, copy, paste, handwritten text. And handwriting also works with data detection to make it easy to recognize and work with phone numbers, email addresses, addresses, etc.

Improved widgets with iPadOS 14

While it would be ideal to see the new iPad widgets match the functionality that debuted on iPhone with iOS 14 (work anywhere on the home screen or any app page), they are definitely still worth diving into.

The new iPadOS widgets work in the Today View portion of the home screen. They still offer useful new functionality and third-parties are building great support for the feature. One tip is to make the Today View permanent on your iPad if you’d like the effect of having home screen widgets on iPad.

USB-C features

New features based on USB-C aren’t new with iOS 14 but will be new for many users who are moving to the 2020 iPad Air from an older iPad.

USB-C means you can use hubs to expand your iPad’s I/O and many apps like Apple’s own Files to third-party ones like Dropbox and Box support using external USB-C SSDs with iPad.

More to explore

Other handy things you’ll want to explore include the new layouts for iPadOS 14 apps that feature a sidebar to more easily navigate and use them. And iPadOS 14 also brings 4K support to YouTube videos for the first time.

iPadOS also gets the compact call interface that arrived iPhone, while other small features like fullscreen live lyrics in the Music app and improved Markup tools deliver a richer experience.

What features or changes are you most excited about with iPadOS 14, Apple Pencil, or the new iPad Air? Share your ideas in the comments down below!

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