iPadOS 13 First Thoughts

The WWDC 2019 Keynote was a big one for the iPad as Apple announced a dedicated iPadOS for the device. This marks a significant change in the features the iPad can have compared to the iPhone. For the past week I've been running iPadOS on my main iPad Pro so here's my first thoughts on the new OS.

Let's start on the Home Screen, the first view you see on your device before jumping into different applications. For the first time, Apple is now allowing you to pin widgets to the main home screen. This is a nice feature for displaying items like the current weather, or your calendar, or even task manager. The ability to quickly scroll through the full list of widgets is nice, but overall, it's not groundbreaking. I like to keep all my apps in the dock, so it would be great to have widgets all over the home screen, but this is a significant first step.

Moving into Multitasking, Apple has done a great job expanding the iOS 11 way of multitasking to make it more useful. For the first time, you can now run multiple instances of apps in the OS. This is great if you want to see two pages docs side by side, or maybe a pages doc next to safari, but in another space pages next to notes. You can even run another pages doc in slide over. I've been using this feature all the time. It's great to be able to break off a note and pair it with a different safari view. The new app expose function is also a simple way to see all the instances of the app running. The new slide-over view is genius. Slide over now allows you to run multiple apps at the same time, and you can swipe along the bottom to switch apps. Think of Slide over as an iPhone X running overtop of your iPadOS. It's a great place to keep messaging apps or music apps. You can quickly bring them up from anywhere in the OS, and also easily switch between them.

More on the base OS level, Apple has brought back a smaller keyboard for the larger iPad Pro. You can now access a smaller iPhone like keyboard on the device. Perfect for when you're holding the device in one hand and trying to type with the other. You can also move the keyboard anywhere on the screen you please, which is a nice touch.

Files is the next item I want to talk about. This one is pretty simple but at the same time helps to make the iPad more of a laptop replacement than ever before. You can now plug in external storage devices to the iPad and view all the files in the Files app. You can also now store files within the iPads built in storage just like a regular computer. Apple also added a new column view similar to the one found in macOS. These features are simple, but something that wasn't previously available, so its great Apple made these changes.

Safari got a big and necessary update also, it's finally closer to being a full desktop-class web browser. When the iPad now loads a website, it identifies itself as a desktop browser, but also adds a new layer of touch interaction over standard sites allowing for easier access to features. This means for the first time you can use websites like Google Docs, or Squarespace within Safari on iPad without being limited by the lack of functionality. This is something I found significant as this site is managed on Squarespace, and with the ability to edit the site from my iPad, it makes the iPad an even better laptop alternative.

The last item I want to talk about is the new accessibility feature which adds mouse support to iPadOS. This is a pretty big step for Apple, but one that they are moving towards slowly. Since its, an accessibility feature is not expected to be used by everyone, but it's still available to those that need it most. This means you can pair a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard to the iPad and use it very similar to a laptop. You don't get a traditional mouse pointer you're used to, but more of a virtual finger on the screen. You can even map the mouse buttons to different functions like going home, or multitasking, it's totally up to you. It's an exciting addition into the OS and again, one that makes the iPad feel more like a laptop than ever before.

So those are my thoughts on the first beta of iPadOS 13. So far its been pretty stable with only a few crashes each day but beyond all that its an exciting first look at the future of the iPad.

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