The Best Features in iPadOS

iPadOS is Apple's new operating system designed and built specifically for the iPad, and as such, offers some features that aren’t available in the standard version of iOS.

Introduced at the 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), iPadOS is a modified version of iOS 13, designed for iPad. iPadOS offers all of the standard features in iOS 13, including dark mode, performance improvements, a new ‘Find My’ app, and a revamped Maps app, to name a few. iPadOS goes a few steps further, offering several new features designed specifically for the iPad’s larger display. This divergence has been a long time coming; many people are now using their iPad as they would a desktop computer or laptop. For the first few years of its life, Apple essentially treated the iPad like a giant, overgrown iPhone, running the same OS with exactly the same features. But, over the years, iPad-specific features started to arrive, packaged within iOS, starting with iOS 9, which introduced Split View and Slide Over to the iPad.

So, does iPadOS really enable you to do away with either of those, allowing you to use your iPad as your main device? That really depends on what you use your computer for – but iPadOS will certainly transform your iPad and bring you one step closer to a full desktop experience. The first major change you’ll notice after installing iPadOS is the new home screen; the grid view of apps is displayed tighter, reducing the amount of dead space and generally offering a more aesthetically-pleasing look. There is also an option to show a ‘Today View’ on the left-hand side, displaying widgets like weather and to-do lists.

The biggest feature of iPadOS is Sidecar. This feature allows the user to use their iPad as a Mac second screen, either wirelessly over Bluetooth or with a lightning cable. This effectively turns your iPad into a portable monitor that can be utilised anywhere you need it. Apps that are dragged into this second window can be interacted with using the Apple Pencil, as well as your main computer’s keyboard and mouse.

Multitasking on iPad is also given an upgrade in iPadOS. Users can now use Split Screen to see two app windows simultaneously for the same app, or two different apps. This allows you to open two Safari windows, or two Photoshop windows, for example, at the same time. In Slide Over view, there’s an option to view and switch between multiple app windows, and App Exposé, launched when an app’s icon is held down, shows the user an overview of all apps that are open, allowing them to be switched to or closed down as needed.

With iPadOS, external storage is finally supported for iPad, allowing users to connect devices like USB flash drives or SD cards directly into their iPad. When connected, the contents of these external storage devices can be read within the Files app, allowing easy management of data between external and internal storage. Files can also be imported directly into apps like Photoshop, Pages and Lightroom.

There are a few other, smaller features introduced in iPadOS, but they are by no means insignificant. Safari has been totally revamped, and it now loads websites automatically in desktop view. Safari also gets a download manager for the first time, allowing you to save directly to your iPad’s internal storage. Tapping on the corner of the iPad’s display opens Markup, which can now be used for anything, from emails and webpages to documents; all complete with a redesigned tool palette for easy access. There is one feature that has yet to be officially announced – mouse support. This feature is known to be one that Apple is testing, and has been found to work for some users, albeit in a very buggy way.

In short – if you already used your iPad as a laptop replacement, you’ll find it is now much more useful. Thinking about replacing your laptop with an iPad? We’d recommend holding out for now. There is no doubt, though, that the iPad will inevitably be a worthy laptop replacement.