“It’s time to recognise the iPad in a special way,” Apple’s Craig Federighi said during the Cupertino major’s annual WWDC keynote event in San Jose, California on Monday. And what better way to recognise it, than to give its own operating system. Apple calls it iPadOS, and with it, the iPad finally has a shot at realising its true potential - something that it was always meant to do.
If there’s one tablet that can truly replace - even kill - a laptop, it’s the iPad (Pro).
When Apple announced the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro with bezel-less design and USB Type-C port last year, the jury called it “way ahead of its time” - it still is - in hardware. But it was just not cutting it in software. Imagine having so much horsepower and not being able to do anything about (with) it. All that changes now - or it will change, come September, when iPadOS rolls out for the iPad.
There are two ways to look at iPadOS. Not only is it a ticket to unlock the iPad’s full potential, it is also about Apple planning for the future. At its WWDC keynote event, Apple also announced Project Catalyst - which is the official name of the long-rumoured Project Marzipan - to bring iPad apps to the Mac. As such, breaking the iOS inside the iPad into its own thing, was the need of the hour - not only does it send a strong signal to developers how serious Apple is about it, they’ll also now know what they’re getting into. Apple needs Project Catalyst to fly, as much as it needs the iPad to fire on all cylinders - iPadOS solves both the purposes.
But that’s all pep talk. And while we don’t know what the future holds for Apple, its now seems pretty exciting. Especially with regards to the iPad. Which is why, it’s only fair to acknowledge it and talk about it - the iPad is finally headed for a revolution, almost 9 years after Apple first introduced it. And because the iPad has been the only tablet that matters, for years now, the new iPadOS update pushes the envelope even further - while also making a strong case for tablets, that let’s face it, have been under an existential crisis for as long as one can remember. It was hard to beat the iPad then, it would be harder to beat it in the days to come.
A number of key changes/features that Apple is bringing to the iPad with iPadOS, really makes you sit back and notice - what took Apple so long to do this?
-Desktop-class browsing on Safari on iPad with native download manager
-An even more granular files app with iCloud Drive support for folder sharing
-Native support for external drives (USB drives and SD cards)
-New home screen layout with widget support
-Updated split view and slide over for improved multi-tasking – and a new App Expose feature that “provides a quick view of just the open windows for any one app with a simple tap”
-More deep-down Apple Pencil integration with the ability to mark up and send entire webpages, documents or emails by swiping from the corner of the screen, redesigned tool palette, and latency (reducing) optimisations
-Although not explicitly mentioned by Apple, iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith has spotted mouse support in iPad OS. Buried inside accessibility, mouse support is crucial for iPad since it would let users access USB mice, Apple’s Magic Trackpad, and wireless Bluetooth mice, while browsing on the iPad
All of this (and more) will be in addition to all the features that Apple has announced with iOS 13 – including the long overdue dark mode.
Only thing the iPad needs now is a good keyboard with cursor support, and this thing can replace - even kill - all ultra-notebooks including Apple’s own entry-level MacBook Air.