In a change no one saw coming but one that makes plenty of sense, Apple has given iPads their own operating system instead of just continuing to piggyback off of iOS.

It's aptly called iPadOS, and though it's still highly similar to the mobile counterpart, it's got some pretty significant changes that greatly enhance the experience of using Apple's tablets for both productivity and entertainment.


Apple has long been tweaking iOS on iPad to take greater advantage of the bigger display, adding stuff such as better multitasking, split screen views, and other features in years past. Which is perhaps why the company saw iOS as no longer fit for the tablet's expanded functions.

iPadOS features a new home screen brimmed with widgets that can expand alongside app icons. These are the same ones normally found tucked away in the Notification Center. In addition, Apple has added more multitasking gestures to slide more smoothly between multiple apps, and also drag and drop apps side by side. These apps are displayed in Slide Over, which is much like macOS's Exposé view.

iPadOS: Improved Files App

iPadOS boasts a better Files app, with a column view that mimics Finder on macOS. There's an information pane that makes it easier and faster to modify files. iCloud Drive also now supports folder sharing, and the Files app will even support SMB file shares natively.

The most important update of all in this department is perhaps USB drive and SD card support. That means users can just plug in their external storage and access their files right from within their iPad. They can even import photos into, say, Lightroom, without having to call Siri for aid.

iPadOS: New Safari

Apple also updated Safari for iPadOS with desktop-class browsing and a real download manager. It also now supports 30 new keyboard shortcuts, text size controls, per-site settings, and photo upload options.

iPadOS: Improved Text Editing

Text editing on iPad is now also easier and faster. Selecting text, for example, can now be performed with just a swipe, and there are new, much easier gestures for cutting, copying, pasting, and undoing actions.

iPadOS: Other Changes

Beyond those mentioned above, iPadOS also introduces system-wide Dark Mode, custom fonts, a new Maps app that Apple says has been completely redesigned from the ground up. Perhaps more importantly, there's also a new floating keyboard that supports QuickPath. Users can pinch in to trigger it and drag it anywhere on the screen.

What these new additions amount to is a greatly enhanced user experience that's unique to the iPad and deserving of its own OS name. Apple says it will customize the iPad experience even further, too, which means users can expect iOS and iPadOS to vary in terms of functions and overall experience moving forward.

This might sound like a negative change initially, but if Apple pulls it off, not only will it make the iPad more distinct from the iPhone experience, it will also convince customers that these products are very, very different from each other. Lots of people still think there's no reason to buy an iPad if they already have an iPhone. This might be the change they need to go out and purchase one.

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