2019 will be an important year for iOS users. That was the year iOS transformed into something dramatically different. Up until now, all Apple devices other than Macs used the same operating system. Whether you have an Apple TV, an iPad, or an iPhone, it uses iOS.
While all three devices will still use the same core operating system, each will now receive a specialized fork of iOS. That means iPad users don’t have to wait on iOS 13, but on a new operating system, an official variant called iPadOS.
This particular focus on the unique needs and strengths of each device is important news for current and future owners of an iPad device new enough to receive the update. What features does the title have? Well, that depends on how you use your iPad, but the features highlighted here are the ones that can make the most of a difference for most users.
Reworked tablet interface
The iPad and iPhone have had differences in interface design and appearance for many years. However, even with iOS12, the basic look and feel of the operating system remains the same. Not so for iPadOS.
Apple realizes that large, high-resolution screens are being wasted with smartphone convention. iPadOS is reshaping the entire way that screen real estate is used. Everything is scaled down to the right proportions and the icon grid is tighter, so you can fit more things on the screen at once without clutter.
These improvements also extend to the way you interface with the user interface. The virtual keyboard can now be moved around and resized. Text selection and editing is also getting major updates, so expect your iPad to be closer to a “real” computer in terms of productivity.
One of the biggest problems that keeps the iPad from being a laptop replacement is its ability to multitask. Recent versions of iOS have brought split-screen support to the device, allowing you to run supported apps side-by-side.
This is a big boost for serious work as you can now have a word processor and a web browser open at the same time, to mention one example.
This solution is relatively flexible, but with iPadOS we’re getting what multitasking iOS tablet users really have been begging for. Multiple apps can be kept offscreen with the enhanced Slide Over feature. You can simply swipe up to see all the apps waiting in the wings. Opening, closing, and maximizing these apps is also now easy to do.
The application window is also here, and on top of that, you can open two windows of the same application. You will no longer have to run two different web browsers or word processors just to approximate this functionality.
Mouse support is finally here
Android devices already have mouse support for ages, but iOS devices are still faithfully touch-only, despite the great keyboard options available.
The feature is currently part of the AssistiveTouch accessibility settings, but of course anyone can take advantage of it. Both Bluetooth and USB devices are supported.
We don’t know how well the mouse will perform as it may be emulated touch-based, but if it works well it could seriously support the iPad as a laptop alternative .
External memory support
One of the coolest features on Android is the ability to connect to any USB storage device and instantly access the onboard files. That’s notoriously hard to do on iOS without explicit support for it.
With iPadOS, you now have the ability to connect USB drives, hard drives, and SD cards directly to your tablet. Of course, you’ll need the right connectors, but other than that, you can access the files directly.
Speaking of file access…
Developed file system
iOS 12 has finally brought a truly user-facing file system to iOS. It’s great to empower to have full control over file storage, but file discovery software and integrations are clearly in the early stages. With iPadOS, we’re getting huge improvements to file handling on the iPad, and it couldn’t come sooner.
Taking advantage of the larger screen, you can now browse files in nested folders, with appropriate file previews. There’s a downloads folder, so you never have to wonder where your downloads went, and you can now zip or unzip files on the iPad itself.
Original Xbox One & PS4 controller support
Apple always offers better deals when it comes to game controller apps. Their MFi controller standard has been well accepted, and all gamepad-enabled iOS apps work with any MFi controller. Unfortunately, the controllers themselves are quite poor quality, and at the same time quite expensive.
Now, iPadOS, TVOS, and iPhoneOS are getting native support for Playstation Dualshock 4 and Xbox One controllers with Bluetooth. Unfortunately, older non-Bluetooth Xbox One controllers will not work.
This means playing great ports and AAA games on iPad with the right controller. On top of that, the game streaming apps in the App store won’t be as easy to control as the major platforms. Make no mistake, this is a big deal.
Everything is different now
After September 2019, it is no exaggeration to say that our iPads will be completely new machines. Much more capable work and play tools.
Adventurous users can try the Beta version of iPadOS right now, although we don’t recommend doing so on a major device.