As always, this autumn’s operating system refresh brings new versions of iOS and iPadOS, and as usual, most of the new iOS features also find their way into iPadOS. Check out our article on iOS 15 for what’s new for the iPhone, and also the iPad. Here, we’ll take a look at what was announced specifically for Apple’s tablet computer.
Home-screen Widgets have been improved. You can now place Widgets among the apps on your Home screen, just like you already can in iOS 14. Just open the Widgets Gallery, and drag the Widget of your choice into place. Like Widgets on the iPhone, you can choose the size of your Widgets, with larger ones showing more information than the smaller sizes, but take up more room.
Exclusively for the iPad, there’s also an extra-large widget which is two app icons high and four icons wide. Apps that take advantage of this larger-sized Widget include Apple TV, Game Centre, Files and Photos.
Another feature that appeared in iOS 14 but was inexplicably missing in iPadOS was App Library, and this too is coming to the tablet with iPadOS 15. The App Library groups apps of a similar nature and places them on a page of folder-like icons. This is in addition to not instead of their presence on the Home screen. For example, a games library collates all your gaming apps.
Tap one of the three icons on the folder to open that particular game, or the icon featuring four games to open the folder and choose from any of your games. You can access your App Library by swiping your Home screen as far as it will go, or by tapping the App Library icon in the Dock. Also like the iPhone, you can now hide Home screen pages you no longer need, to keep things neat and tidy.
The iPad has some great multitasking capabilities, but they’re not as intuitive or easy to use as they should be. This all changes with iPadOS 15, where it gets a big overhaul. A new icon appears at the top of your apps; tapping it reveals the multitasking menu. This menu offers a series of multitasking options. You can take an app full screen, or choose to work with two apps side by side with a Split View or a Slide-Over. These work in a very similar way to the iPad’s current multitasking options, but are much easier to find. Another way of opening two apps in Split View is by launching the App Switcher, and dragging one open app onto another.
Something else you can do when multitasking is open a specific window in the centre of the split screen. For example, if Mail is one of the apps you’re using in Split View, you can tap and hold an email and have it open front and centre, from where you can deal with it. With multiple windows open, you can swipe one down and have it appear as an icon at the foot of the screen, in an area called the Shelf. You can then open it later. It’s a great way of saving something for later, and dealing with it when you’re less busy.
There’s a few new features coming to the Notes app. They were announced at the WWDC as coming to the iPad, but we presume they’ll arrive on the iPhone too. Collaboration and organisation are the order of the day. If you mention someone in a shared note, for example, they get a notification with a link to the note in question. Look out too for an Activity View sidebar, which lets you know what’s changed on a shared note since the last time you opened it. Just the thing when more than one person is allowed to edit it. To help you organise your notes, you can add tags. A hashtag followed by a word anywhere in the note becomes a tag, listed in the new Tags section in the sidebar. Tap on a tag in the sidebar and you’re shown all notes containing that particular tag.
A brand new feature called Quick Note lets you add a quick scribble from anywhere on your iPad. Just swipe in from the bottom-right corner of the screen and a note appears, on which you can type or write with your Apple Pencil. When you’re done, swipe it away. Quick Note offers extra features depending on which app you were using when you opened the note. In Safari, for example, you can easily add a link to your currently open page. You can copy and paste text from an app to a Quick Note too. You can swipe left and right to cycle through your Quick Notes, and find them all in the Notes app. Quick Notes can be created on Macs and iPads, and accessed and edited on an iPhone.
Translate Gets a Feature Boost
The Translate app has proven popular on the iPhone and iPad, and with iPadOS 15, it gains several new features. You can practice handwriting in a language that doesn’t use our alphabet, like Chinese or Russian. You can use Translate in Split View, to keep it open next to a document you’re translating, and the Auto Translate feature detects speech and which language is being spoken, and translates on the fly.
Translation is now system-wide. Highlight a piece of text in the usual way in any app, and the pop-up menu offers a Translate option. Tap it and a pop-up window offers a translation. You can also combine Live Text and Translate for a translation of words found in a photograph. These new Translate features are available on all Apple gear, that is Macs, iPads and iPhones, and you can download language packs to keep the translations on your device if you wish.
Swift Playgrounds is a great way to learn how to program with interactive lesson plans made by Apple. With iPadOS 15, you can create apps for your iPad directly on the iPad itself. There are all sorts of tweaks and improvements to help with your coding, and when you’re ready, you can submit it to the App Store, again directly from the iPad.
The exact release date for iPadOS 15 hasn’t yet been announced, but expect it in September.
iPadOS 15 is compatible with the iPad Air 2 or later. Here’s a full list of compatible devices:
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation)
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation)
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation)
iPad Pro 10.5-inch
iPad Pro 9.7-inch
iPad (8th generation)
iPad (7th generation)
iPad (6th generation)
iPad (5th generation)
iPad mini (5th generation)
iPad mini 4
iPad Air (4th generation)
iPad Air (3rd generation)
iPad Air 2