And we thought tablets are dead. While I was hoping WWDC 2019 would bring the iOS and macOS worlds together, Apple has literally pulled a bunny out of the hat by announcing a whole new OS for the iPad. Well, it might not be right to call it a whole new OS, as it is a version based on iOS after all. But the fact that Apple has thought of separating this as a new vertical to focus on, shows it still has lot of hope in what the tablet can do.
This is interesting, for most Android tablet makers have lost interest in the space and Apple is pretty much the only company that takes these devices seriously. As a result it now enjoys a monopolistic grip on the tablet segment. And it sees the iPad developing into a creative and productive device — this was what tablets were supposed to be from Day 1, but it is only with the iPad Pro that they started finding their feet.
The power that the iPads now have seem to have got them dreaming. So from actual multi-tasking to running powerful apps, the iPad now can do everything. All that gets another big fillip with the iPadOS announced now.
But what does the iPadOS do?
To start with, the iPadOS is based on iOS and hence is not very different at the core from what you were doing earlier. But here the app uses and the screen flow has been thought through from a tablet perspective. So, now you have a today widget appearing on the first screen itself and not a left swipe like on the iPhone — if you have the real estate, it is better to use it better. You can also pin the apps you use frequently to this screen — more often than not, there are more than you can fit in the dock. Also, with the new gestures you will be able to do stuff like text editing much more naturally than before.
iPadOS also packs a bunch of keyboard shortcuts like you would use on the Mac. Plus, you now have a floating keyboard with a swipe to quickly type with one hand when the needed arises.
But the big deal is what you can do outside the device. One, you can now access files on an external hard drive or SD card. Then you can use the iPad as an extension of your Mac once it has been updated to macOS Catalina. This opens up a whole new world for those in the Apple universe. Also, it needs to be seen if this new Sidecar feature on iPad can then take over from input devices like the ones from a Wacom.
But iPadOS does not mean Apple has stopped making the Macs more mobile. In fact, a new slew of apps are now available for the Mac, including Podcast. Also, Screentime will now keep a tab on how much time you are spending on the Mac as well.
Even as Apple’s iOS and macOS have been coming closer in the past few years. With iPadOS Apple has in effect created a bridge software that tells us there is more possible with tablets. Only time will tell if this helps the iPad become more popular.
Disclaimer The writer is in San Jose on the invite of Apple