Apple’s iPads have come a long way from the first iPad launched almost a decade ago. Since then, a growing ecosystem of accessories and hardware components have honed it to the incredible machine it is today.
Last year, Apple released the 2018 iPads Pro, which so thoroughly impressed us (and almost all of the tech community ) that the mirth directed at Apple’s viral commercial entitled “What’s a Computer” effectively dissipated.
Most of the reservations remaining around the iPad had concerned its software-side limitations. File management crutches, dumbed-down websites, and subpar multitasking. It seemed at times to be more powerful than a laptop, yet little more than a large smartphone at others.
Apple’s WWDC 2019 might have been its most bold, powerful one yet, and iPadOS is at the heart of it. Apart from a landmark, long-awaited update to its Mac Pro line of professional desktop computers, the iPad got a software update, effectively freeing it from the clutches of iOS that it had previously shared with the much smaller and physically limited iPhone. Here is everything you need to know about how the iPad will potentially kill laptops.
User Interface (UI)
To better utilise the unique form-factor of the iPad, Apple has redesigned the way users interact with their iPads, starting from the home screen. With a tighter app grid layout at 6×5 apps (up from 5×4), in addition to pinning pre-set widgets on to the home screen by swiping from the left, making a large amount of information accessible from the home screen.
Split View has been a long-running feature for some time now, but Apple has added a new Slideover that floats an app like a card above another for easy multitasking. This is accessible with a swipe from the right side of the screen. Users can drag apps from the dock to change the card in Slideover, and toggle and change the Slideover app with gestures like on an iOS device.
Multiple instances of the same app can now be run simultaneously in Split View, paired with the same or with different applications. This works for Mail, Notes, Safari, and even third-party apps like Microsoft Word. Users can also bring up all the instances of a specific application running on the iPad through App Exposé by tapping on the app in the dock. This means class-leading multi-tasking performance that matches the iPad’s class-leading hardware.
Long a gripe with iPad power-users, file management has been drastically improved. A new icon view, list view and an all-new column view mean that files on the iPad appear like on MacOS, showcasing important, rich metadata like file size and date modified.
iCloud Drive supports folder sharing, with support for SMD file server sharing for enhanced collaboration and teamwork.
External storage mediums like external hard drives, thumb drives and SD cards now show up in Files, and Photos are imported from cameras directly into Lightroom. Exactly like on Mac.
Another key gripe has been the dumbed-down web-surfing experience on iPad, that opts for the simpler, scantier mobile version of web pages.
On Safari, however, iPad can now access desktop-class sites with on-device optimisation. This means sites are sized perfectly for iPad while touch inputs are supported. More shortcuts have also been added, along with a download manager.
Key for coders, editors (like myself) and designers alike, the text editing experience on iPad has also been radically improved. Custom fonts are now supported on iPad. Major font providers FounderType, MoRiSaWa, Monotype, Adobe and DynaFont will be the first to be supported.
A new scroll bar on the right allows for greater speed in navigating lengthy documents, while a single-touch interface controls the cursor: simply pick it up and drop it down without any time-consuming long-presses required.
Most notable are the new multitouch three-finger gestures: grab to copy, double-grab to cut, spread to paste, and swipe to the left to undo.
iPad keyboard also supports Quick Path like on iPhone, and shrinks down to a tiny keyboard for better one-handed operation.
The Apple Pencil has been improved, too. With an already industry-leading latency of 20ms, it has now been decreased to 9ms. The Apple Pencil now also has a full palette of tools natively that can be shifted around for better ergonomics.
Dragging the pencil up from the corner brings apps into Markup, which enables editing and annotating. If it is a “long” site that requires scrolling, the Markup supports it too.
iPad apps come to MacOS via Catalyst. News, Stocks voice memos and Home have already made their debut, but Developers on iOS can now access Catalyst on Xcode, allowing Mac features to be automatically implemented on iOS apps when reimplementing for Mac. This allows one development team to work on an app across iPhone, iPad and Mac.
Asphalt 9: Legends took a single day to be redesigned for Mac, and Twitter for Mac was running with native Mac features in just days.