Most drawing skills peaked in first grade. Which means the charts we include in handwritten notes often look like they were drawn by a moderately skilled raccoon. Fortunately, the iPadOS 14 offers shape recognition, and turns our twists into the pretty geometric shapes we envisioned.
This feature is easy to use in Apple Notes or email. But there’s a trick to it. How to use shape recognition with an iPad and any pen.
Let’s start with a simple rectangle in Notes. Create a drawing area by tapping and holding the Apple Pencil or other pen in a blank area of the note.
Then use the pen to draw the rectangle, but when you are done, not lift the pen. This is the trick for iPadOS 1
But when you hold the pen when you are done, the tablet will transform your rough drawing into a nice, nice shape, with perfect lines, corners and curves.
Do not worry if you accidentally lift the pen. Take your finger, not the pen, and press and hold the shape you just drew. It will be highlighted in yellow and a menu will appear. One of the options is Snap to Shape. It will convert the rough drawing to a geometric one.
All the options and more
Shape recognition in iPadOS 14 supports a fairly wide range of options. According to Apple, the list includes:
- The square
- Thought bubble
- Outlined arrow
- Continuous line with 90 degree turns
- Line with the end point of the arrow
- Curve with the end point of the arrow
This feature tries hard to be flexible. Your shapes can be at any angle, so the square looks like a diamond, for example.
And remember that you can combine basic shapes by stacking them on top of each other. For example, you can draw a 3D cube with two squares and connect them with straight lines. You can also write words inside the speech and the thought bubbles.
Move and duplicate shapes
iPadOS 14 allows you to rearrange the elements on the drawing. And copy and paste shapes you have already made. This is how.
Put down the pen for this part. Take your fingertip and press and hold a shape you drew. It will be highlighted in yellow and a menu of options will appear.
From there you can place the shape on the drawing area. Or select one of the options from the menu: Cut, Copy, Delete, Duplicate or Paste above.
If the entire shape you want to move or duplicate was not highlighted, there are markers above and below the highlighted drawing that you can move to increase or decrease what is selected. This process is not perfect, so sometimes you need to move shapes into two or more pieces.
But you can not rotate shapes. Maybe it will be in iPadOS 15.
Nevertheless, shape recognition is very practical. A big focus for iPadOS 14 is to make Apple Pencil and other styles more useful. And whether you are sketching a network or drawing a city map, your drawing looks better with regular shapes.