For years, the iPad has served me well as my work machine. In all those years, Apple too has improved iPad software to make it adapt better to the work needs of users like me. But the thing is the iPad isn’t Mac and the iPadOS isn’t macOS. And that could be the gap Apple is trying to plug with iPadOS 15, the latest version of its tablet software that brings improved multitasking features to the iPad.
The iPadOS 15 isn’t a massive update, but it does show a clear direction where the device is increasingly becoming a laptop replacement for many, especially in the current remote work environment. Even though Apple will officially release iPadOS 15 in the fall, we tried the public beta version of the new OS update. Here are our first impressions.
I use both the iPad and Mac for work, and the latter is a clear winner when it comes to multitasking. With iPadOS 15, Apple is taking a small step at refining the multitasking experience on the iPad. So now Apple is adding a multitasking menu at the top of the screen with three buttons — a full-screen button, a Split View button, and a Slide Over button. The Split View slides your existing app to the left and lets you choose the second app from your home screen.
For me, though, the new multitasking button works better than the iPadOS 14’s gestures that let you put two apps side-by-side. I think this approach is a better way to find the app you wish to open, though I did initially struggle to get used to this new arrangement. Then there is a “shelf” feature that is useful for managing multiple windows of the same app. While I don’t expect a more Mac-like multitasking experience on the iPad anytime soon, for now, Apple seems to be focusing on smaller updates.
One of my favourite features in iPadOS 15 is Quick Note, and I’ll tell you why. There are times when I am reading News or going through my Twitter timeline, and suddenly I spot something interesting that I would like to highlight and save for future reference. It happens to me all the time. Now with Quick Note, if I highlight a text on a page in Safari, it can be clipped to my note and that text stays highlighted as a tiny square in the bottom-right corner, even if I open that page three months later.
The best part is all Quick Notes you create are automatically saved to the Notes app. It’s a useful feature for people like me who spend a lot of time researching a subject. All you need to do is swipe up from a corner and start writing a quick note, either with a keyboard or Apple Pencil.
I always find widgets useful for some reason because they make the Home Screen more effective. You can edit them, move them, and stack them the way you want. Android has had these for about a decade, and last year Apple allowed you to add and resize widgets on the home screen of the iPhone. Now it’s the iPad’s turn. Widgets on the iPad are no different on the iPhone except for their size because of the larger display.
I can place these widgets anywhere on the iPad home screen and Apple has even added bigger-sized widgets keeping the iPad’s screen real estate in mind. Widgets, in my opinion, make more sense on the iPad than on the iPhone. The App Library too is coming on the iPad. You can hide and reorder app pages too, just like on the iPhone. Both Widgets and App Library are part of home screen improvements.
While the iPadOS 15 is in the right direction, it still hasn’t solved the core issues many pro users have with the software like the use of an app dock to access multitasking and the ability to open more than two apps side-by-side. With the iPad’s screen size continues to increase and the tablet getting more powerful with the M1 chip, it’s time for Apple to elevate the iPadOS experience.
Maybe the future versions of iPadOS might bring a more Mac-like multitasking experience for users who really want it, this year’s update focuses on smaller but useful functions. In fact, there are a lot of new features in iPadOS 15 I haven’t discussed in my first impressions. FaceTime changes, Focus mode, the all-new Safari, an iMessage redesign, and a new version of the Translate app will also be included in iOS 15. I won’t say I am blown away with iPadOS 15 but sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step.