Apple adds APFS encrypted drive support to iOS 14 and APFS Time Machine backups to macOS Big Sur

Apple didn’t say much about what’s new in the Files app with iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 during the WWDC 2020 keynote, perhaps because not much has changed. But there is an important new feature that brings iPhone and iPad closer to Mac when it comes to file management, and that is support for encrypted APFS drives.

With the next major update for the iPhone and iPad operating system, users will be able to access encrypted drives through the Files app. This feature is already present in the first beta version of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 available to developers, as we have already successfully tested on an iPad.

Apple has made the process simple and intuitive, so there’s nothing complicated about using an encrypted drive on iOS. All you need to do is connect the unit to your iPhone or iPad via the USB-C or Lightning connector and then open the Files app.

The encrypted drive will appear in the redesigned sidebar. Once you select it, the system will ask for the password of the unit that you previously configured. Just enter the password, tap Unlock and you’re ready to access all of your files on that disk.

The downside is that iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can only recognize drives encrypted in the APFS format. If you are a Mac user, you can encrypt your disk correctly using the Disk Utility application that comes pre-installed with macOS.

On a related note, macOS Big Sur can now back up Time Machine to an APFS disk. With macOS Catalina and earlier versions of the operating system, Time Machine was only compatible with HFS + disks, as Apple explains in a support article:

Important: You can back up an HFS + or APFS formatted disk to an HFS + disk; however, Time Machine cannot back up to an APFS formatted disk. If you select a backup disk formatted as APFS, Time Machine offers to reformat it as HFS +.

We were able to test the APFS backup with the first beta version of macOS Big Sur, and it works as expected.

IOS 14, iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur are expected to be available to the public this fall.

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