Apple kicked off its WWDC keynote with an absolute bang. We were barely five minutes into the keynote when Craig Federighi told us about
a new feature called App Library, which is nothing less than a dramatic rethinking of the home screen experience.
Here’s how it works. When you swipe all the way right, you’ll see a new App Library page that organizes all of your apps into categories so they’re easier to navigate. With a centralized location for all of your apps, Apple is also letting you hide home pages, so you won’t have pages and pages of apps to sort through anymore.
Apple has also given widgets a makeover, with new designs, customizable sizing options, and the ability to populate the home screen between apps. Altogether, the whole system feels fresher and newer than it has in years, turning the stale home screen into a modern mobile experience without sacrificing the iPhone’s identity.
There’s just one problem: It’s not coming to the iPad. Even though
iPadOS 14 brings the same redesigned widgets complete with different sizes and smart functionality, it stops short at delivering the full App Library. So your widgets will still exist in the cramped Today View at the left of the main Home screen just like they are on iOS 13. You can’t even move them between apps like you can on the iPhone.
It makes no sense. Something like the App Library makes a ton of sense on the iPad, especially now that there’s trackpad support. Swiping through pages of apps and trying to remember where icons are is a major pain, but with the App Library, things would be smarter and easier to find and the Home screen could be a place for quick bites of information.
The new iOS Home screen is tailor-made for the iPad, and I have no doubt that it will be added at some point, possibly even iPadOS 15. But iPad Pro users who run to download iPadOS 14 in the fall will be disappointed to find the same old home screens littered with apps.
This isn’t the kind of separation we were hoping for when Apple split iOS and iPadOS last year. We wanted high-level productivity features that the iPhone couldn’t get—like the handwriting recognition and universal search that we are getting in iPadOS 14—but we didn’t expect the iPhone to get desirable features the iPad didn’t.
Why would Apple hold back a feature that will make the iPad feel modern and more Mac-like? On the iPad, the App Library could be more even more powerful than it is on the iPhone, with customizable folders, gestures, and deep integration with the search bar. But most importantly, it would have let the Home screen breathe and not look so cluttered with apps.
The App Library has been on my iOS wish list for years and I can’t wait to try it out. Unfortunately, however, my iPad Pro is going to have to wait a little longer.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.