Apple iPadOS review: First impressions

With every major new iOS release, there are people who have been using the Beta version for months, those who update to the final second version that will be available, and those who will stop upgrading for as long as possible.

This is the last category of people who should read this article in particular, because you need to decide if you want to continue upgrading or if the new bells and whistles are worth the potential downsides. We evaluated iPadOS from a day-to-day use standpoint and were impressed.

Appearance department

On our 9.7” iPad Pro, the immediate impression you get from iPadOS13 is one of space. Under iOS12, using the iPad is still like a toy. The large, clean icons have the same symmetrical feel as the phone interface, optimized for one-handed use. An obvious mismatch for the much larger iPad screen.

Now there’s plenty of room to breathe and no noticeable impact on readability. Finally, the large retina display on modern iPads is done, and it’ll take you less time swiping between screens to access your software.

iPad desktop app

Most importantly, the recently introduced dock is finally here, with more space for apps and folders. As you add more icons to the dock, it changes shape, shrinking the icons down. On our iPad model, we were able to fit 16 icons, including three “recent apps” to the right of the dock split.

With all this room, the iPad now feels like a “serious” computer and an alternative to low-end MacBooks.


By far, the biggest change that iPadOS brings from a user perspective is improved multitasking. Opening multiple apps, splitting them across the screen, or switching between them has never been easier or better.

The list of multitasking features is too long to cover here, but the new split view for individual apps is well worth it. This is where you can open the same app on both sides of the screen.

iPad in split view

This is extremely useful for the fairly recent Files app, as you can quickly copy files between folders by dragging them across. Like the initial split-screen release, it’s mostly Apple’s native apps that support the feature right now, but you can rest assured that third-party developers will pick it up quickly. keep.

The only downside is that you’ll have to learn a bunch of new gestures and conventions. It took us a while to figure out how to get split-screen functionality back after the upgrade. Especially since there’s no tap and hold pop-up menu that wasn’t there before.

However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever used your iPad for work before.


Apple is often accused of crashing older devices with new versions of iOS. With the first generations of iPads, this was somewhat true. Because devices that update to its last supported operating system like the 3rd generation iPad are too late to be almost unusable.

Car racing game on iPad

However, Apple promises that there will be a performance improvement for every device that supports the iOS13 family. How much more performance you’ll get depends on the specific model, but at least no one should end up with a slower device.

All in all, with our iPad Pro, there really didn’t seem to be much of a difference. While apps may launch faster, you may need to use a stopwatch to measure improvement.

This iPad has been incredibly snappy under iOS12, which lessens any performance perception. Basically, it doesn’t seem like you should think about performance one way or the other with iPadOS.

Controller support

Around the same time as the release of Apple Arcade, iPadOS and the entire iOS13 family now have native support for Xbox One Bluetooth controllers (not controllers that require a dongle on Windows machines) and most Sony PS4 controllers DualShock 4 on the market. Except for the first few units.

Skateboarding game on different Apple devices

Any game that works with an MFi controller is instantly compatible, and we had absolutely no problems connecting an Xbox One or PS4 controller.

Controller-enabled Apple Arcade games already have PS4 button prompts ready to go, but if you’re playing games on an MFi controller that hasn’t been updated, you’ll still get Xbox prompts. So here’s hoping your favorite game developer will update it if you like the Sony gamepad.

We ran into a pretty big problem with our Xbox controller. It seems to have some slight drift on the left analog stick; when the bar is centered, it still takes a small amount of input. In the game, this is shown when the character goes to the left even when the controller is not in use, making everything unplayable. We have confirmed that the problem is in fact with the controller, but this is a fairly common problem.

Xbox Game Controller

It doesn’t show up on our Windows machine, as you can calibrate any controller using the built-in utility. We couldn’t find any OS level controller calibration utilities in iPadOS which means that if your controller has a slight drift, you will have to repair or replace it much sooner. compared to when you do on other platforms that allow calibration.

However, our PS4 controller worked like a charm, and playing games on the iPad with the proper controls was a revelation. For iOS gamers who may already have one of these controllers, iPadOS almost makes up for the great 32-bit purge that robbed us of game developers who abandoned us. .

Final Judgment

We can’t think of many reasons to avoid upgrading to iPadOS. This is by far the most complete overhaul of what this thin and light computing device can do.

The iPad hasn’t received such a productivity boost since it first featured split-screen multitasking. In a world where ultrabooks and Microsoft Surfaces, iPads really need an overhaul, and as a light-to-medium productivity device, iPadOS has finally turned the iPad into a viable alternative to a laptop. laptop.

Pictures tell "iPad OS"

If you’re an iOS gamer, iPadOS is a no-brainer. Arcade support and Apple’s controllers help prevent that. If you are someone who uses your iPad for any kind of productivity or wants to take it seriously, iPadOS is a must.

If you just use your iPad to browse the web, watch Netflix, and read e-books, you’ll barely notice any difference. In that case, there is no compelling reason to update immediately.

That being said, iOS13 has received three major patches, so Apple is clearly dedicated to ironing out any wrinkles that will appear. This means that the more cautious among us may not have to wait long before iPadOS becomes a safe bet.

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