Apple announces massive iPad change – and it could transform how you use it

Apple is launching a new operating system called iPadOS, which will replace iOS on the iPad.

The move is designed to make the experience of using an iPad akin to using a laptop, with advanced multi-tasking capabilities and greater support for Apple Pencil.

The iPad has used iOS – the same operating system that runs on the iPhone – since it was first released in 2010.

iPadOS builds on the same foundation as iOS, but adds new features that are specifically designed to take advantage of the iPad's large display.

These include a redesigned home Home screen with a new layout to show more apps on each page, as well as quick access to widgets such as headlines, weather, calendar, events and tips.

Updates to Split View in iPadOS will allow iPad users to work with multiple files and documents from the same app simultaneously, or quickly view and switch between multiple apps in Slide Over.

For example, you'll be able to compose an email while viewing another email side by side or access multiple apps like Messages or Calendar with just a swipe.

iPadOS also adds greater support for Apple Pencil – the stylus that Apple launched in 2015 – with improved algorithms and optimisations helping to reduce latency to 9 milliseconds.

Users will be able to mark up and send entire webpages, documents or emails on iPad by swiping Apple Pencil from the corner of the screen.

A redesigned tool set also gives quick access to tools, colour palettes, shapes, object eraser, a new pixel eraser for removing any part of a stroke and a ruler for drawing perfectly straight lines.

Other features include:

  • An improved Files app with support for iCloud Drive and external drives, allowing users to easily plug in USB drives, SD cards or log into an SMB file server;
  • Improved browsing in Safari that automatically presents the desktop version of the website, scaled appropriately for the iPad display, and optimises it for touch;
  • Improved text editing, making it easier to select text with just a swipe and use new gestures to cut, copy, paste and undo.

While the changes might not sound huge, the decision to separate the iPad operating system from the iPhone operating system suggests that Apple may choose to take the two devices in different directions in the future.

"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," said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.

iPadOS will be available in the autumn as a free software update for iPad Air 2 and later, all iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation and later and iPad mini 4 and later.

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