The iPad’s operating system is getting a major boost. Here’s what you can expect from iPadOS 15.
Apple has unveiled what the major new features of the iPad’s iPadOS 15 operating system will be. And there’s a TON of them.
Of course, those hoping the iPad would run macOS or that iPadOS would take on more of a desktop-like experience will be disappointed. iPadOS is still a very mobile and touch-friendly operating system.
However, iPadOS 15 is moving in the direction of having more desktop-level features, as we’ll see below. And while some of these new features will be comparable with what is coming to the iPhone’s iOS 15 operating system, rest assured that iPadOS lives up to its name. There are many iPad-only features in this OS.
As for what iPads will be capable of running iPadOS 15 – it’s a bit of a shock. Why? Because many people assumed Apple would drop support for the oldest iPads that can currently run iPadOS 15. But nope.
iPadOS 15 is capable of running on iPads going all the way back to the iPad Air 2, which came out in 2014. That’s crazy! iPadOS 15 will run on a seven year-old iPad!
OK, time to get to the good stuff. Here’s what to expect from iPadOS 15.
iPadOS 15: Home Screen Widgets & App Library
The iPad’s home screen is getting a bit of a makeover this year. Last year Apple introduced redesigned widgets to iOS and iPadOS. On iOS those widgets were capable of being placed on home screen pages right next to app icons. That was no so for iPadOS.
But that is all changing this year. In iPadOS 15 widgets will now be able to live on the home screen right besides app. This gives the iPad experience a whole new look and feel.
In addition, iPadOS 15 is gaining the App Library feature that came to iOS 14. Apple Library is a new launcher that quickly shows the user their apps sorted into smart categories. You can access App Library on iPadOS 15 right from the dock.
iPadOS 15: Better Multitasking
A big advantage iPadOS 15 has over iOS is that it’s built for true multitasking. There’s so many new multitasking features it’s almost overwhelming. Features like a new multitasking menu that lets you create a full screen, Slide Over, Split View, or center window with ease.
Speaking of center window – that’s a new feature that allows you to bring a note or message from a third app up and over the split view screen of other apps. It’s a game changer for multitasking.
There’s also a new multitasking shelf that lets you quickly switch between all open windows for a single app. This is handy in apps that support multiple documents, like Pages or Numbers. Finally, an all-new App Switcher lets you Split View spaces with ease.
iPadOS 15: Redesigned Safari
iPadOS 15’s browser – Safari – is also getting plenty of updates. The most noticeable is a new design. The tab bar has now been streamlined and placed besides the URL field. This gives you more space for the web page you are visiting.
Safari’s borders also now take on the color of the webpage you are on, which make it look like the webpage extends to the top of your screen. Tab groups is also another big new feature. Now you can arrange all your open tabs into different groups, such as work and shopping.
But the best Safari upgrade is that now Safari on iPadOS 15 runs extensions – just like it does on Mac. Now you can load some of the most popular browser extensions on your iPad. It’s getting more desktop-like every year.
iPadOS 15: FaceTime & SharePlay
As with iOS 15, iPadOS 15 is also gaining FaceTime and SharePlay enhancements. FaceTime includes new features such as screen sharing, spatial audio support, and grid view.
It’s new SharePlay feature also allows you to watch videos and listen to music in-sync with your friends. For example, if you’re watching Star Wars in the Apple TV app, you can invite your friends to watch in too.
The movie will play independently but in sync on the devices everyone is FaceTiming on, and you’ll still be able to see your friends and chat to them while the movie plays.
iPadOS 15: Live Text
Another iOS 15 feature coming to iPadOS 15 is the amazing Live Type. This is a machine learning technology that allows the operating system to identify text and numbers in photographs and makes that data interactive.
For example, say there’s a restaurant’s outdoor menu in a photo you took. With Live text you could tap and select the word on the menu and paste them into another document just as you would with regular text. And if that menu in the photo has an email address on it, simple tap it to send an email to that address.
iPadOS 15: Swift Playgrounds
While this feature probably won’t excite non-developers, Swift Playgrounds is getting a massive update. Now you can not only code your own apps on the iPad but submit them to Apple for approval into the App Store – all right from your iPad.
Yep, that’s right. You can use your iPad as your only development tool now. A Mac is no longer needed.
iPadOS 15: Universal Control
This is another feature for the pros, but it’s a big one – and shows how Apple is continuing to make iPadOS more desktop-like.
Universal Control lets you use a single mouse and keyboard across your iPad and Mac at the same time. Not only can you effectively use your iPad as a second screen, it essentially becomes a linked device that you can drag and drop files from or to right from your Mac.
The cursor from your Mac will flow effortlessly to the iPad and back. It’s really quite impressive.
iPadOS 15 will be available for free when it debuted this fall.
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.