Apple today officially releases iPadOS, slightly less than a week earlier than expected. Due to the haphazard manner in which Apple's software versions are taking place this fall, we are going to postpone a full review. All beta's to date have had bugs ranging from surreal to stopping the show, and it's not fair to judge a final release on pre-release issues.
Is it safe to install today? Based on the latest beta I have used, I think it is – and I think it is worth it. iPadOS is based on iOS 13, which Chaim has reviewed here, but it feels like a much more substantial update than what we got on the iPhone.
Anyone who felt that the iPad was a bit too restrictive due to the way Windows or webpages were handled should be excited to install this update. And although this year it really feels like a "main user" -based set of functions, people who use their iPads for the basics will also find things they like.
These are the things that we like the most and hate the most about iPadOS so far.
Good: Safari usually works as a desktop browser
One of the more frustrating parts of using an iPad was that you had this large screen that often only showed magnified iPhone versions of websites. Blame web developers if you want, but the cold truth of the web is that the more advanced features expect a desktop browser with a mouse.
Apple's solution was to let current Safari browser websites tell you that it is exactly what it is, the Mac version of Safari. This means that websites are displayed earlier as full desktop versions on the iPad.
So far so good, but you've probably noticed that the iPad doesn't have a mouse pointer (except for a new accessibility option). So Apple has added a kind of translation layer between your taps and the expectation of the website clicking. In some cases (such as Google Docs), Apple has specifically checked whether the translation layer is working properly.
And it all works very well, you get access to more internet than before. But it is not perfect, you will find marginal cases where you still have to find your way back to a "real" desktop web browser on a laptop or PC to access certain sites. I have had problems with sites with complicated forms, text input fields or with a kind of drag-and-drop interface.
Good: new ways to manage Windows
Even the use of the word "Windows" is weird on an iPad, it doesn't really fit. What I'm talking about is putting apps in a split screen, using Slide Over, and so on. With iPadOS, Apple is no longer shy about offering powerful users powerful options, so you have more ways than ever to organize and rearrange your windows. Eh, & # 39; spaces & # 39 ;, in Apple language.
The biggest change is in Slide Over, the small windows that look like iPhone apps on the right. Now you can have a whole pile of them and they have their own multitasking. I always use it now, have access to apps that I want to use quickly and then close it. It is perfect for messages, music and notes. It is really like having a small iPhone on your iPad.
But there are many other changes. For example, apps can now spawn multiple windows. And you can drag and drop many things onto new windows. You can use the Expose view not only to see all your split screen spaces, but also all individual windows for a specific app.
It is a lot, but it comes very close to what power users have asked for. Fortunately, if you just want to use your iPad one app at a time as you always have, you can.
Poor: the learning curve when managing windows
I just said it's a lot, but that really underlines how complex multitasking on an iPad can be. Earlier this summer I was worried that it was not "intuitive" and the verdict is in: it is not.
How can you know if a link or a note or something on the iPad can be converted into a window? Usually with trial and error, although you can press and hold to see if there is an option & # 39; Open in new window & # 39; is.
The iPad has different spatial metaphors than we are used to on a desktop, and there are half a dozen weird ways to switch between app windows and rearrange them. That is all really great. The problem is that going from the basics to the feeling that you really know how things work requires a steep learning curve, one in which iPadOS doesn't give you many signals about what happens to your stuff.
My advice: give up the idea that your windows look like desktop windows. They are all perishable and that also applies to your workplaces. In the end, it works because opening things on the iPad is so fast, but be prepared to feel a bit lost for a while.
Good: the new home screen
You can set the home screen to a denser grid of icons and you can set your Today View Widgets to be permanently locked there. Long press on icons on the home screen feels much more responsive and the context menu that appears is much more useful. Pro-tip: hold down and drag your finger up through the options when the menu appears.
Good: the floating keyboard
You can pinch the on-screen keyboard to turn it into a small iPhone-sized keyboard that you can drag anywhere on the screen. I like it so much – it's the rare case that Apple learns something from Chrome OS (yes, really!).
It's great because you can place it on the right and use the new QuickPath option to slide your thumb over letters for typing. It makes typing on the iPad much easier.
But the real reason it is so great is that you can type it without taking up a third of the screen on the keyboard. The normal software keyboard cuts off too much content.
Bad: advanced text selection
Apple has tried very hard to get text interactions properly on iPadOS, and I think the goal was to make it a little faster and intuitive. You should just be able to tap or drag your finger to let the cursor do whatever you want, place or highlight or whatever. Then there are special gestures with three fingers to do things such as cutting and pasting.
In theory, it's just a good idea to trust that the iPad naturally does what I want with text. In practice it is too unpredictable and difficult to find out. When does the cursor move and when does drag select text? After using the iPadOS beta almost daily for three months, I still did not do well.
Pro-tip: just ignore the three-finger gestures and learn the three-finger tap, which opens a pop-up menu that is much easier to use.
Good: the new, more powerful Files app
When Apple switched the iPad Pro to USB-C, everyone started to think that that port was useful for something other than a charger. And with iOS 12, very few things worked.
With iPadOS, that port was allowed to do more things, and the best set of functions is in the Files app. It can now read USB drives and cards directly, and you can even disconnect those devices without the operating system losing you.
But Apple did much more than that. A column view has been added, this is set to work better with external servers and you can finally easily set up and organize local folders.
Related: Safari now has a good download manager that can download almost any file, not just the limited set that iOS previously allowed.
Good: dark mode
Apple has paid attention to rectifying it, it is much more than just an inversion of white and black. You will find that a surprising number of apps support this – even though they are still in the minority, it's more than I expected at the moment.
I especially like that you can just set it according to a schedule, just like with Night Shift. I still think that dark mode is more of a UI trend than a real improvement, but that is not true. User interfaces have trends just like fashion, but I think the dark mode will last, if only because the screen is so much nicer to view & # 39; at night.
Good: Photo & # 39; s app
It really is a step up, and although the photo editing options are generally not entirely new, I find them much more intuitive and easier than before. What's new is the ability to apply all of those things to video.
You may get a bit lost in Apple's attempts to show you the best things in the new timeline views in the app, but stick to it. You probably take so many photos that it is worth it to scare Apple & # 39; s AI a little bit to curate them a bit for you.
This was a buggy year for the beta & # 39; s. Again, you should not judge what you are installing today based on this, but you may still want to be prepared for some weird things. I can't help but think that iPadOS is pushed away a bit early because it must be turned off with iOS 13.1 – that itself must be removed because iOS 13.0 is super buggy.
Fortunately, the most catastrophic bugs (such as data loss in iCloud) seem to have been properly and thoroughly destroyed. But it is possible that some apps get stuck or get stuck. Waiting a little longer to install – or at least avoiding installation on the first day – is never a terrible idea. Barbara Krasnoff has written a good guide on how to do it on the iPhone that equally applies to the iPad.
Everything else: pretty good!
There are many, many more functions to talk about. I particularly like Apple's new privacy protection features, making it harder for both apps and web pages to identify you for tracking. I'm also happy that Apple has finally found that you may want to press the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi icons for a long time to access some Bluetooth and Wi-Fi options in the Control Center – what a concept!
If you want a deep dive on absolutely everything, Frederico Viticci has gone well and truly overboard and has explored all corners and gaps MacStories. We have our full assessment after we have kicked the tires for the final, shipping version of iPadOS a little more.