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The iPad Now Has Its Own Operating System

The iPad now has its own version of iOS; iPad OS. It’s a move that makes sense. There are already plenty of iPad-only features in iOS, such as multitasking options and some gestures. With the iPad benefitting from its own OS, it can further develop its unique capabilities.

That’s not to say iPadOS will be completely different from iOS. The relevant iOS 13 enhancements described elsewhere in will also be found on the iPad.

New Home Screen

The iPad’s Home screen has been redesigned to take advantage of the greater available area afforded by a tablet. You can fit more apps on a page, and also in the Dock, which is definitely welcome news, and if you wish, you can also incorporate Today View. This gives you even quicker access to widgets such as headlines, weather, calendar, events, tips and more.

Text Editing and Keyboard Features

Apple is very proud of its new text-editing features, introduced especially for iPadOS. As Apple Engineering Manager Toby Paterson demonstrated at WWDC, you can now use new gestures to cut, copy, paste and undo. Selecting text is as simple as dragging your finger across it, with no double-tapping involved, and you can drag the cursor to wherever you want it without having to use the on-screen magnifying glass.

iPadOS keyboard

You can also tap and hold the scroll indicator to make it easier to scroll through a document, and tap the keyboard to reduce it in size, making it much easier to type with one hand. Of course, the keyboard also lets you drag to type instead of lifting your finger between each input, just like the new iPhone keyboard.

Powerful Multitasking Features

The iPad’s multitasking capabilities have been polished. As before, when using an app, you can open a second in a sidebar, using the Slide Over facility. If you want to use a different app in the sidebar, just drag it onto the old one.

What’s new is you can now switch between apps you’ve used in Slide Over by dragging up from the bottom of the secondary app. Your Slide Over apps are fanned out on the screen, allowing you to choose whichever you like. You can also drag along the bottom of the secondary app to toggle through those you’ve used recently.

Slide screen

Using Split View, you can (as before) open two apps on the screen at the same time, and drag the dividing line between them to give more space to one or the other. In iPadOS, you can also open the same app twice. This could prove very useful if, for example, while writing an email, you want to refer back to one that’s in your inbox. Just open the Mail app again in Split Screen, and use one window for composing your email, and the other for picking through those you’ve been sent. These features work for third-party apps as well as Apple’s own.

Files App Enhanced

The Files app gains a Column View in iPadOS, similar to the macOS Finder’s own Column View. Each step in a folder tree gets a column, and the last column offers a preview of a selected file, with quick actions available for rotating images, making PDFs and marking up a file. Metadata is also offered, so you can see a file’s size, pixel density, location information for photos, and more.

Sharing files through the Files app has also been improved. iCloud Drive Folder Sharing allows you to share an entire folder that’s stored in your iCloud Drive, directly from your iPad. You can also access files stored on an SMB file server, and you can even plug in a thumb drive or a digital camera and read files stored there. Also new are local storage, zip and unzip and new keyboard shortcuts.

Everything Else

Safari users will be glad to learn that in iPadOS, you can view the desktop version of a website instead of the mobile one. This means sites like Google Docs, Squarespace and WordPress function much better on your iPad.

There’s also a new download manager, 30 new keyboard shortcuts and enhancements to tab management.

iPadOS lets you download and custom fonts from the App Store and use them in your iPad apps. Font designers such as Adobe, DynaComware, Monotype, Morisawa and Founder are already on board.

iPadOS shares the same performance improvements as iOS 13, with apps downloading and opening faster and Face ID responding quicker, and, of course, the long-awaited Dark Mode is there.

 

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Ian Osborne

Ian has worked on computer and video games magazines since the legendary Crash and Zzap! 64 in the early Nineties, so he’s seen many changes over the years (including an expanding waistline and receding hairline). A lifelong Mac user, he bought his first Mac in the year 2000. It’s a testament to the resilience of the Mac that his mother is still using that computer to this very day.

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