iPadOS lands today (September 24) and it will change and improve a number of things on your Apple slate, whether you’re rocking an iPad Pro 11 (2018), an iPad mini (2019), or any number of other Apple tablets.
It’s a big update for Apple’s tablet range, as the software is no longer just a scaled up version of iOS – hence the new name.
There are a lot of alterations and additions, both big and small, but in this article we’ve focused on five of the most significant things that are going to change. These are the things that you’ll either notice straightaway or really should know about.
1. A whole new home screen
With iPadOS you can choose to have your app icons clumped closer together, meaning you can fit more of them on one screen so there’s less swiping needed to find them.
Better yet, Apple lets you make full use of the extra space found on an iPad by optionally having Today View permanently displayed on the home screen, so you can see and access calendar events, recently played music, news stories, and more without any swiping at all.
It essentially means you have widgets on the main home screen, making it a bit closer to the functionality offered by Android.
2. Support for external storage
Many iPads come with a lot of storage – you can get the iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) with up to 1TB for example, but if your slate doesn’t have that much, or you need even more, then you’ll be pleased to hear that external storage is now supported via a USB drive or SD card.
You will of course need a card reader for the latter, so neither of these are really permanent storage solutions, but this should still be an appreciated upgrade, especially as the Files app can read the connected drive, so you can easily move files between the internal and external storage.
3. Access to a whole world of games in Apple Arcade
This isn’t iPad-specific – it’s already available for iPhone (thanks to the iOS 13 update) and will be coming to Mac and Apple TV as well, but Apple Arcade is landing on iPad as part of iPadOS, and it’s an exciting new service for anyone even mildly interested in mobile gaming.
There are 100 titles either already available or coming very soon, all new, and all available in full as part of a $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99 monthly subscription. Expect more games to be added over time, and none of them will be available on Android or as paid or free games on iOS (outside Apple Arcade).
4. New gesture controls
It’s not just the look and features that are changing with iPadOS – the ways you interact with your slate are too, thanks to new gesture controls.
These include a three-finger swipe to undo, a three-finger pinch to cut and a three-finger splay to paste. Shortcuts which should make text entry and editing in particular a little quicker and easier.
In supported apps you’ll also be able to shrink the keyboard with a two-finger pinch, and there are also some new controls for multi-tasking.
5. Improved performance
You don’t need a new iPad to feel like you’ve got a new iPad, as iPadOS should do a decent job of that on its own. Not just because of the new look and features, but also because it should improve the performance of your existing slate.
Apple claims apps should launch up to twice as fast (as well as being smaller to download), and Face ID should be up to 30% faster. In practice this should make using your slate feel just that little bit slicker, and make the lure of newer hardware easier to resist – at least until the new iPad Pro 2019 arrives.