It might be a tablet (THE tablet, for many), but Apple’s iPad has always run the same operating system as the iPhone – iOS. That, however, is set to change in the coming weeks. As well as announcing a new version of iOS, iOS 13, for the iPhone, Apple has also announced iPad OS, an operating system that is basically iOS but tailored to the bigger display of the iPad and with a few special functions of its own, bringing it closer to notebook territory. iPad OS will be released in the coming days (“the fall,” to use Apple’s terminology), but this is what you can look forward to when it does make it to the iPad:
Connect to a Mac, get a second screen
This is perhaps the most spectacular change in the new OS, called Sidecar. Using it, you will be able to connect your iPad, either using a cable or wirelessly, to a Mac computer or notebook. In effect, your iPad will become a second display, allowing you to work on two computer screens at the same time – maybe running a video on one while checking a presentation on the other. You can switch information between the two machines as well, and can even work on the iPad using Apple Pencil and see the sketches or notes you make appear on the computer!
Plug a USB drive into your iPad
The new iPad Pros come with USB Type C ports, but they could be used for not much other than charging. That changes with iPad OS. Users will now be able to actually plug in USB drives, SD cards and even hard drives to their iPads and access files on them. In a manner of speaking, an Apple device finally seems to have expandable memory!
Multiple apps on the same screen
We have been able to run apps side by side on the iPad for a while now, but iPad OS takes this to another level. Evidently, now users will be able to have more apps open on the screen. What’s more you can even have two windows from the same app side by side – so you can have two Word documents open next to each other to compare them. Kind of cool, isn’t it? We are not quite sure how many apps will be compatible with this, but it definitely brings the iPad a step closer to REAL multi-tasking.
New Home Screen, and with widgets too
The home screen of the new iPad OS will broadly resemble that of the iPhone, but with some changes. One of these is the ability to place widgets on the home screen, and keeping them there permanently. A bit like Android, some would say, but given the extra information we are getting, we are not complaining. Apps will also be organised in a tighter grid.
Swipe to type here as well…
We had talked of how the iPhone would finally be getting typing by swiping with iOS 13, allowing users to type in information by moving their fingers across the keyboard, rather than tapping different letters. Well, the same applies to the iPad. You will now be able to type by just sliding your fingers across the letters that form a word instead of having to tap on each letter. Convenient, especially when you consider that you will also be told of alternative word options at you type or swipe, depending on your inclination.
…and move the keyboard around as well
Remember that rather cool feature which allowed you to split the keyboard on your iPad? Well, with the new iPad OS, you will not be able to do that. But you can just pinch to shrink the size of your keyboard. And then move it to any part of the screen. How cool is that, eh? Small wonder, Apple calls the concept a “floating keyboard.”
Zip and unzip files
One of the biggest pain points for anyone handling attachments on the iPad was the fact that you could not zip up large files before sending them or open zipped files that one received. iPad OS will allow you to do both. You will now be able to unzip a file and access its contents by just tapping on it!
Download manager present
Safari finally gets a download manager with iPad OS. You will now be able to track the files you are downloading online. You can check the status of a large file that is being downloaded and can even move them to a file or an email. And yes, files can now be downloaded in the background while you work away!
Lots of gestures
Apple is adding a lot of gestures to the iPad interface in iPad OS. For instance, tapping with two fingers and dragging allows you to select messages, mails and folders. A three finger swipe to the left undoes the last action. A similar swipe to the right redoes the last action. Pinching up with three fingers allows you to copy text, pinching up with three fingers two times lets you cut text, and pinching down with three fingers lets you paste text. Sounds complicated? We are sure most people will get the hang of it in time.
Drag and move that cursor
A lot of people have been talking about how iPad OS will allow you to use a mouse with the iPad, but that comes only under the accessibility function. What is in our opinion even more interesting is the fact that in the OS, you can actually just grab the cursor and drag it to anywhere in a document – no need to tap where you want to take it.
And there’s a whole lot more. Will it be enough to make your iPad a notebook replacement? We will let you know when the OS is officially released. Right now, you can go and try the public beta if you wish (warning: it is buggy and you could lose data).