Apple pulled off one of its best Worldwide Developers Conferences in years earlier this year. At the event, Apple showcased a ton of new software include iOS 13, tvOS 13, macOS 10.15 and watchOS 6. The company also introduced an insanely powerful Mac Pro and a brand new Apple display.
But one of the biggest surprises at this year’s WWDC was that iOS on the iPad is no more. Instead, Apple announced the tablet will run its own, new operating system called iPadOS. So hang on to your butts, because the iPad’s new operating system is now out and with it, the iPad has become more than a glorified giant iPhone. Here’s what you need to know.
iPadOS: What Is It?
iPadOS is the brand new operating system specifically built for the iPad. The OS is designed to graduate the iPad to the next level of computing device. No longer is the iPad simply a glorified giant iPhone. Now Apple’s tablet will have its own operating system that, thanks to the hardware differences of the iPad from the iPhone, will likely take the iPad in a radically different direction in the coming years.
iPadOS: How Is It Different Than iOS?
iPadOS still looks like iOS in many ways, but it has several new and expanded features that iPhone’s running iOS lacks. Announcing the new operating system, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, said:
“iPad transforms how people work and express their creativity, and with iPadOS, we’re taking it even further by delivering exciting capabilities that take advantage of its large canvas and versatility. iPadOS delivers exciting features, including a new Home screen with widgets, more powerful multitasking and new tools that make using Apple Pencil even more natural.”
Key features of iPadOS include a new home screen that shares display space between the app icons you’re used to on iOS and the widgets you’re used to seeing on the iPhone’s lock screen. Combining the two to always show on the iPad’s home screen gives you a more versatile product.
iPadOS also features more multitasking features, including having multiple windows open at once—including in the same app—and App Exposé, which shows you all your open apps at once, just like on the Mac. iPadOS also gets a full desktop-version of Safari, improved text editing and gestures, custom fonts, dark mode, a new Files app and even support for USB thumb drives.
iPadOS: So Is It Equivalent to macOS?
Not quite. macOS is still a much more powerful operating system. iPadOS is more advanced than a phone operating system, but not as advanced as a desktop operating system. Think of iPadOS about 20% macOS and 80% iOS. However, we’re sure iPadOS will trend towards becoming more like macOS in the years ahead.
iPadOS: What iPads Will It Run On?
- 12.9-inch iPad Pro
- 11-inch iPad Pro
- 10.5-inch iPad Pro
- 9.7-inch iPad Pro
- iPad (6th generation)
- iPad (5th generation)
- iPad mini (5th generation)
- iPad mini 4
- iPad Air (3rd generation)
- iPad Air 2
iPadOS: When Can I Get It?
iPadOS is available now. Just run iOS 12’s Software Update feature on your current iPad to download the new iPadOS.
iPadOS: What Are Its Top Features?
iPadOS has a TON of new features that make it a truly versatile operating system. However, these are our favorites:
- New Home Screen: iPadOS gives iPads a new home screen. Now the Today View widget can always be visible on the screen, giving users access to more information than ever before. The home screen can now also support smaller icons, which means you can have more apps on one page.
- Safari becomes a desktop-class browser: one of the best features of iPadOS is that Safari gets a major makeover. It’s no longer a mobile browser–instead, it’s become a fully0fledge desktop browser. This means you can fully interact with websites like Google Docs, Squarespace and WordPress all on your iPad.
- Dark Mode: Another big headline feature is Dark Mode. As the name suggests, users can now choose between light and dark mode. Dark Mode looks stunning on iPadOS and it’s been one of the most requested features for years, so we’re glad it’s finally here!
- Better Maps: Apple has made great strides in making Apple Maps much improved since its disastrous launch over six years ago. And Apple Maps in iPadOS shows the company is almost on-par with Google Maps now. That’s because Apple Maps will now feature Apple’s version of “street view”. Apple is calling their version of street view “Look Around”—and quite frankly, it looks much better and more fluid than Google’s Street View. It is also getting an insanely high level of basemap data, meaning structures and natural landmarks will be much more detailed.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.