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Apple Announces iPadOS at WWDC 2019

A much more iPad-centric OS aims to make the tablet your laptop replacement.

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Apple has announced iPadOS, a dedicated operating system based on iOS for the iPad. The system better supports the larger canvas aided by the iPad, specifically on the iPad Pro since, y’know, Apple wants it to replace your laptop.

New Home Screen and Multitasking

The most notable addition in iPadOS is the new home screen which takes advantage of the iPad’s large screen. The home screen now offers a denser row of icons and the ability to dock widgets to the left. This is the first time you’ve been able to mount widgets to any iOS home screen, and it’s about time. If only you could do the same on the iPhone.

To complement the new home screen, Apple is also introducing new multitasking utilities with iPadOS. For instance, you can now use Split View to manage files within the same app by opening two different elements of the app such as the Mail app and an email composer. Slide Over is also becoming more useful and will allow you to switch between various apps using App Exposé. Apple’s also making text editing easier with new gestures to cut, copy, and paste in any app that supports those three functions.

In addition, Apple now lets you open a floating keyboard that’s small enough to be reached with either of your thumbs while you’re holding your iPad with both hands. The keyboard resembles a typical iPhone keyboard and supports swiping.

An Actual Files App

In iPadOS, Apple is bringing an actual Files app to the iPad. Whereas the previous Files app let you look at stuff in the cloud and certain file types physically located on your device, the new Files app will let you see any file that’s physically loaded onto your iPad. It also lets you read data from USB drives, SD cards, and cameras. There’s also a new column view for easier file management, Quick Actions like mark up and create PDF, new keyboard shortcuts, zip and unzip, and shared iCloud Drive folder support.

All of these features in the new Files app carry over to iOS 13 as well.

Dark Mode

Speaking of iOS 13, Apple is also adding dark mode to iPadOS. It does exatly as you’d expect: it darkens apps and UI elements for a more pleasing nighttime/low-light experience.

Proper Desktop Safari… Kind Of

Safari in iPadOS is getting desktop-class browsing, letting you view a desktop version of websites right inside the default iPad browser. Unfortunately, it isn’t exactly full-on desktop mode since web pages will still format to fit the iPad properly like they would on an iPhone, but it’s at least a much better viewing experience over mobile-class browsing.

Apple Pencil Improvements

Apple is also adding various Apple Pencil improvements to iPadOS. You can now mark up and send entire web pages by swiping from the corner of your screen with the Pencil, while a new tool palette gives you access to new utilities like various colors and shapes. In addition, Apple was able to trim down the latency of the Pencil from 20 milliseconds to nine milliseconds which is absolutely insane.

Upgraded Apps

Much like iOS 13, Apple is also including upgraded apps with iPadOS. There’s a redesigned Photos app, a redesigned Reminders app, a redesigned Maps app with richer context, and a tweaked screenshot experience.

There’s a lot of weight sitting on iPadOS’ success. Apple’s iPad Pro hasn’t exactly succeeded in its mission to become a full-on laptop replacement, and today’s upgrade announcement hopes to further convince people that the tablet can become your new go-to on-the-go workhorse. We’ll have to see how the upgrade fairs among users to see if it’s actually worth all the hype, so be sure to stay tuned.

The first developer beta of iPadOS will be released today. Public betas will likely arrive next month. All iPad owners with an iPad Air 2 and up will get the new software.

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