Apple Notes in iPadOS 18 (Developer Beta 1): everything you need to know


We’ve had to drag and drop attachments into Apple Notes for the longest time. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes, attaching files from within the app is more convenient. In iPadOS 18 (developer beat 1), Apple has replaced the camera icon we had in the app with an attachment icon. We can now add items to our notes without opening another app first. It’s a welcome update. We had no trouble adding photos to our notebooks’ handwriting sections. So, you shouldn’t have a problem attaching your images if you want to mix them with handwriting. The popup menu options only take you to the Files app. It doesn’t give you all the options you get from the attachment icon on the top toolbar. That could be a beta issue, though.

Smart Script

The biggest updates coming to Apple Notes are not available for all iPad models. That is as good as not updating at all, especially when you consider the devices that are supported:

  • M-series iPad Pros (starting from the 5th generation for the bigger version and 3rd of the smaller one)
  • iPad Air, starting from the 4th generation. The iPad Air 2020 has outlived the iPad Pro 2020. Isn’t that strange? Considering the iPad Pro costs way more, even though it was released seven months earlier, why would Apple give it an inferior chip to that of an Air? iPad Pros are no longer worth buying, which is sad.
  • iPad (10th generation)
  • iPad mini (6th generation).

The feature also has limited language support: 9 versions of English, 4 versions of French, 3 of German, 2 of Italian, 2 Portuguese, and 3 Spanish. The feature only supports six languages at the moment. Hopefully, they’ll be rolling out other languages in future updates.

Handwriting refined

Smart Script re-creates your handwriting to make it smoother, straighter, and more legible. Initially, I thought this would be distracting, but it is very subtle; you won’t notice it if you’re not paying attention. So, we’d say it was a good execution on Apple’s part. We also love that you can choose to turn off the feature if you don’t want to use it. Apple Notes maintains an impressive consistency with the replacement. It won’t look like two different people wrote the notes, but that’s not to say there aren’t any deviations. The app is smart enough to refine your handwriting without completely changing it. It also works on notes in the app that you wrote already. I didn’t think I would like this feature, but surprisingly, I do! Let us know if this is a feature you will be using often.

Spell check

Spell-check is not always accurate. Sometimes, it completely misunderstands what you’re trying to write. In that case, it can be frustrating without an option to add new words to a custom dictionary or the option to ignore its suggestions. Even easier, perhaps we could get a couple of words instead of one suggestion for each correction. It’s great when the suggested correction is accurate, but sometimes, there are multiple possibilities that the app might miss.

Otherwise, when the app does pick up errors and makes the correct suggestion, the feature will probably mess up your notes. Depending on how bad it is, there are some things straightening can’t fix. Its handwriting also doesn’t always match your handwriting, and it almost feels like someone else wrote the word for you. When you think about it, it might actually be useful to help those words stand out if that’s what you’re going for. But, in most cases, it’s probably not, though. These issues feel like a beta thing rather than a feature one. Is this a feature you want in a handwriting note-taking app?

Add space

We were excited to see that we can now add space between words in our sentences. At least now, we can add the exact amount of space we need for additional information in our notes. We were hoping this would work for words, too, where we can create space between letters of individual words, but perhaps that is asking for too much. Apple Notes has refined its most loved feature, and we couldn’t be happier. It’s still a bit difficult to bring up, though. We accidentally activated a colour-changing gesture several times, which we’re still trying to figure out.


Pasting text to handwriting pastes it in black ink only at the moment, regardless of what pen tool colour you’re using. The handwriting doesn’t resemble your handwriting, but we didn’t have high expectations for that. We have seen the feature at play in Goodnotes; it’s nothing to get excited about yet. We were hoping to refine the handwriting, but we don’t have that option. You can erase it with your eraser tool and select it for interaction. Straightening it messed it up, so we tried again, and it took a while, but it still gave us the same results. We managed to create some space, though. The conversion was quite accurate, with a few errors that spellcheck failed to pick up.


As we expected, scribble-to-erase is the worst feature so far. Sure, this is a beta, but it’s the only feature we haven’t had any luck using, and it’s not that complicated. The feature has a dysfunctionality history, and we want to see if Apple can change that. So, we’ll definitely be watching that space.


For the first time in a note-taking app, we have a feature that combines font colour and highlighting. It’s definitely better than the plain text we’ve had in Apple Notes on the iPad all along. But how hard could it be to only highlight text without changing its colour? We can change the font colour on the Mac version of the app; why is it so difficult to bring that to the iPad version? It’s nice to see some colour in our notes, though, and we love the five colours we have, too. Even though we have no customisation options. So, we’re just appreciating the little we have at this point.

Collapsible notes

Collapsible notes are awesome! The app automatically creates them with your headings and subheadings—at least, that’s what we’ve figured out so far. So are all of them collapsible now? You can either collapse or show the notes, depending on what you’re going for. But we were hoping the feature could be like quotations, where you can choose to add it to your notes. Automating the process is probably more efficient for a digital workflow. What do you guys think?

Audio recording

We understand why they mentioned audio recording in passing. It’s not really audio recording; it’s more like recording audio using Voice Memos as a feature in Apple Notes, away from your notes. We want to say that it’s a step in the right direction, but in 2024, audio recording away from our notes is simply unacceptable. The audio recording feature has been around for way too long for Apple Notes to mess this up. You can name your recording and then add it to your notes.

We can see the audio transcript in the notebook, but we still don’t have a way to interact with it. Hopefully, that’s coming soon. Or are we experiencing a bug? Transcription is currently limited only to multiple versions of the English language.

The audio playback is very simple, with 15-second fast-forward and rewind options. We don’t like that it is away from your notes. You can record more audio when you reach the end of the audio. There was a time when the audio playback tool appeared above the keyboard when taking notes. It was a brilliant setup, we thought. But now it’s just disappeared.


These updates are the most interesting we have received for Apple Notes in what feels like years now. Apple has put a lot of effort into it, but we’re sad that the biggest updates are limited to just a few iPads, especially because they have excluded two perfectly functional iPad Pros (2018 and 2019 models). Which updates are you mostly excited about? Do tell.

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