iPadOS public beta preview: worthy of the new name

The operating system of the iPad has a new name – iPadOS – and today Apple lets everyone install a beta version of it. When it is officially released this fall, I think it will be a huge upgrade for most people, significantly changing their opinion of what it is capable of.


I'm excited about all the changes Apple has made to the operating system to go with the new name. The ability to get more apps on the screen in multiple "windows" has been significantly improved, Safari is a much better file browser, the file browser has been substantially upgraded and working with text is easier than ever.

But right now I should install the public beta – unless you have an extra iPad or don't mind making serious mistakes. That is of course our standard advice for every beta software, but in particular it is worth waiting for the next version at least. I have been using the second beta version of developers for about a week, which is, according to Apple, largely the same as today's beta, and it has definitely crashed for daily use.

Here are my favorite new features in iPadOS, with an emphasis on what is specific to the iPad. For a good look at what's on the iPhone in iOS 13, Chaim Gartenber

You have treated a separate article and video. If you want to know what's new in macOS Catalina, Chris Welch has a story about that.

Although I think the iPadOS will unlock many new applications for many new people, I do not consider whether it can really replace your laptop here. Although I am obsessed with that question, I also admit that it is an obsession that most people do not share.

Instead, I think most people already know what they want to use an iPad for, and it won't be their only computer. That doesn't mean that I think it's just a media consumption device – far from it – but the entire discourse on & # 39; the future of computers & # 39; is exhausting and a bit off the point. Besides, there are enough bugs here that I am reluctant to make a final judgment.


Instead, I'm going to preview a preview of the major new features and explain a little bit why each of them could really be useful everybody, not just people who try to make it their only device.

Multiple windows

Apple has made important improvements to the way you can create and organize windows on your screen. The word & # 39; window & # 39; Of course that is not correct, because the iPad does not support them in the traditional sense, but there is no better word for these objects on the screen.

I think the biggest improvement is the ability to have multiple apps in the Slide Over view. That is the window of an app that floats over whatever you do. You can create one by dragging an app up from the dock or swiping from right to right.

The new feature here is that you can stack multiple apps in Slide Over, instead of just one of them. Just like you do on an iPhone, you can quickly swipe between them by dragging a bar at the bottom of the window, or you can swipe up in that bar to fan out all apps in Side Over.

You can "fan" apps in the Slide Over stack.

Ultimately you get the feeling that you have a spare small iPhone X on the right side of your screen that you can catch up and throw away whenever you want. There are a lot of apps that I want to have close at hand, usually for fast things such as music, calendar and messages. Having them available without taking over the entire screen and interrupting what I am currently doing is a huge upgrade. I think this is the most important thing that will improve everyone's experience on the iPad, regardless of their expertise.

For more advanced users, Apple adds two related functions: Apps in multiple rooms and App Exposé. If you understand what those technical terms mean, you've probably been pumped over it. If you don't do that, you'll learn to use them or get confused when the iPad suddenly does something confusing. Don't worry: I am in the first category and I am still often a bit stunned about how these things work. Let's look at them one by one.

"Apps in multiple spaces" is an iPad for having multiple windows from the same app. You do this all the time on your laptop, but it was never before an option for iPads apps (except for the Safari tabs). Essentially, you can drag elements from an app (such as a note, an email, a compose window, or a tab), and you can create a new window while dragging. You can then place it in a split view or one of those Slide Over windows.


It is a big advantage for people who want to compare two documents from the same app or create other contextually relevant work arrangements. But as I said, it's also a bit confusing: not every app supports the new function and it's not always clear which elements can be changed in a new window, so you just have to try dragging things to see what, if something happens.

It is also confusing because the iPad apps in & # 39; spaces & # 39; organizes, the thing you see when you swipe up to see your open apps. Some of them are locked together on a shared screen and some are left in that area.

App Exposé shows all copies of the windows of a single app.

That is where App Exposé comes in. Instead of seeing all your apps, this feature only shows the windows of a single app. You activate it by holding your finger on the app icon on the dock or home screen or by tapping it when the app is open on your screen.

Do you have all that? It is not that easy to understand and I am inclined to say that it is not very intuitive either. But I also acknowledge that the traditional desktop UI is also very strange. We're just more used to it. The good news is that whether you can find this out or not, the basic principles of opening and splitting screening apps have not changed at all.

By the way, all of these multi-window things don't feel very dialed in yet. Dragging icons around to turn them into windows is still very wrong and hard to fathom. Apple wants the rule to be something like "all you can drag, you can create a window," but we are very far from that in this beta. That's one of the main reasons why I don't recommend this beta, not even for the so-called & # 39; thrill-seekers & # 39 ;.


However, the most important change is a policy change: soon, with Apple require iPad apps support Split Screen and Slide Over. So the apps that take over your entire screen will eventually be made to work as they should.

New home screen

No, Apple does not depart from the classic grid of icons and folders – although you can now get six columns from it, making better use of the large screen of the iPad. The big change is that you can pin the widgets that are normally on the & # 39; minus one & # 39; screen. I think widgets on the iPad and iPhone are great and are not being used as much as they should be, so I'm happy to see the option to make them more prominent.

photos & # 39; s

The Photos app on both the iPad and the iPhone will receive a major upgrade. For me, one of the most impressive things is how fast it is.

That speed is important. I am sure there are people who know exactly when a photo was taken or on which album they saved. But I suspect that most are like me: people who take a lot of photos and just drop them in a pile. So if you can quickly zoom in and out of different views, you can simply look around for what you need without knowing the exact search term or organizing your photos obsessively.

Apple has also looked at how photos are organized automatically. At the top is a tab bar with years, months, days and all photos. People based on time automatically group all your photos via local machine learning into events that Apple thinks you want to see, complete with pre-selected lead art.


I found these to be quite useful, but sometimes Foto & # 39; s picks a strange image or emphasizes something that I don't care about. The nice thing about these views is that they automatically filter screenshots and receipts, but they are still in the All photos & # 39; s section.

I'm even more enthusiastic about the new photo editor. For photo editing, the functions it offers are largely the same as before, but the interface is much better. It is fully optimized for touch in a way that is much smarter and easier to understand than before. I even think that many people will learn the basics of editing photos from this interface. It makes terms and processes accessible where they were previously opaque and confusing.

But I bury the most important part of the new photo editing interface: it also works with video, and it does very well. Adjusting the color, cropping and everything else in a video is super easy. I would like Apple to apply this level of care and accessibility in all of its video editing products.


Apple claims that Safari on iPadOS is "desktop class", but what that means is under discussion. I do not mean "what does desktop class mean?" (Although you could certainly have that argument). I mean in the "does it really do everything we want it to do?" Sentence.

There are two major changes from a technical point of view. First, Safari on the iPad now tells websites that it is actually Safari on the Mac. That means that many websites that previously served as mobile versions of their sites now use their full desktop version. Secondly, those desktop versions typically expect that there is a mouse pointer on your computer, so Apple has created a kind of translation layer that makes your touch input look like a mouse input to those sites.


What does all this mean from a practical perspective? In particular, surfing the web on your iPad feels a little less restrictive. More sites offer you the full version of their pages. Web apps such as Google Docs also work pretty well, although sometimes you are still redirected to a mobile app, even if you don't want it. (Ironically, Apple said it would work much better for blog content management systems, but The edge& # 39; S Chorus CMS was already optimized for mobile Safari and so this faux desktop system is worse.)

Apple has also moved a few buttons in the toolbar. My favorite change is on the left side of the URL where there is a button to change the page zoom, request the mobile version of a site or change specific settings for that site that will continue to exist the next time you visit it .

Safari also finally has a download manager, which means that you can download any file from the internet, not just images. Files are stored in the Files app, just like on your computer. There are also a number of new keyboard shortcuts if you use an external keyboard.

My favorite feature is that you can long press the bookmarks icon and automatically save all open tabs in a folder. You can then hold that folder down in your bookmarks to reopen them all.

Keyboard and text editing

There are a lot of new ways to manipulate and cut and paste the text cursor in iPadOS, but my favorite new text feature is the new keyboard. You can squeeze on the onscreen keyboard and shrink it to a floating iPhone-sized keyboard.

The floating keyboard shows you more of the screen.

A tap with three fingers calls up a handy text action bar.

A floating keyboard is a feature that Windows and Chrome OS tablets have had for a long time, and I'm glad Apple finally realized how useful it is. I want to be able to enter short bits of text without losing half the screen for a keyboard. Now I can finally do it. It is easy to move the keyboard and it is easy to tap out what I need with one thumb. After all, I have years of muscle memory that do exactly on telephones.

Even better: you can swipe on that small keyboard to type. It is a real "finally" moment for both iPads and iPhones. And as a first attempt to make a swipe keyboard, it's better than I expected.

Regarding moving the cursor, I think Apple needs to do some more work. The idea was to make it simpler: you can move the cursor by dragging it or highlighting text by doing the same. It is the "same thing" part that is the problem; I never really know what will happen if I place my finger on the cursor and drag it.

Apple has also added a new set of three-finger gestures for cut, copy, paste, undo and redo. They are uncomfortable and do not work very well, in addition to being completely undiscovered. I like that you can just tap with three fingers and get simple buttons for all those actions in a pop-up toolbar.


Apple may have received more criticism about the limitations of the Files app than anything from people who wanted to use the iPad as their primary computer. With iPadOS, most of that criticism comes to a halt.


You can finally get direct access to USB drives and with a nice touch you don't have to worry about a nonsensical "eject" button. It is a bit slow to recognize disks in my beta testing, but it works and will be a huge help. Third-party apps can also directly access USB devices, which should make photo editors happy when their apps are updated. If you share SMB files, that works now too.

The app Files also has a new column view, which is a super convenient way to bypass your file system. I notice that I have had to do a few multi-touch finger exercises. If you hover a file over a window, it won't open like a Mac.

Other things

There are a lot of functions that I don't cover here. The most important of these is that Apple has made the whole of iPadOS navigable with speech, which is a major problem for accessibility. Even if an app is not encoded to enable direct voice navigation, users can split the screen into a numbered grid to zoom in on a specific area.

The share sheet has been reorganized with suggestions at the top.

Mouse support is also technically an accessibility option, although people are already starting to think about ways to use the iPad as a focal point for a full desktop installation. Speaking of desktop setup: there is a new feature called Sidecar that makes your iPad a second monitor – or input tablet – for your Mac.

The latency on the Apple pencil has also been further reduced. Apple also uses predictive machine education there. There is a new markup palette that is much cleaner than before and with some apps you can take a screenshot of a full page that is converted into a PDF.


In addition to the new universal dark mode, there are other small changes to the interface. The stock magazine tries to predict to whom you may want to send things. The volume indicator is smaller (although, hilariously, it moves in the opposite direction to the volume buttons when the iPad is in the landscape). There is support for third-party fonts, a more natural sounding voice for Siri and updates for many of Apple's first apps. Chaim has covered many of those things – as well as changes to the privacy policy – in his iOS 13 example.


Last but not least: Apple claims more performance improvements, but because this is a beta, I can't really talk about it yet.

That is iPadOS. At WWDC, one of the big questions was why it was given a new name, separate from iOS. Much of it is marketing and semantics, especially since iPadOS shares the same foundation as iOS. But the truth is that semantics have an impact. Calling this iPadOS indicates that the iPad must be slightly different than the iPhone.

Calling this iPadOS means apps that are designed for this iPad apps, not just iOS apps. iPad apps may be more powerful than those of their counterparts. At the very least, they are adaptable for a split screen and support multiple windows. Those functions should mean that the Mac versions of those apps (coming through Catalyst) will also be more powerful.

Even if you've just put together the new window options and the more convenient version of Safari, you'll end up with something that feels very different to the iPhone. iPadOS may be just a name, but names are important. After a week of using it, I believe iPadOS deserves the name.


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