Multitasking menu. Center Window. Window Shelf. App Switcher on super soldier serum. Keyboard shortcuts… on Hulk serum. Widgets unleashed. App Library added. Quick Notes. Tag Notes. Text magnifier… ish. Watch together, listen together, SharePlay, Screen Share, Shared with You, Focus, Status, Notification Summaries, Better Maps, way better Safari, Live text, Look Up, Spotlight done right, Musical Memories, Swift Playgrounds from UI and App Store, Universal Control, Privacy Protection, iCloud+, IDs, accessibility, and so much more. It’s the iPadOS 15 public beta. It supports iPad mini back to G4, iPad back to G5, iPad Air back to G2, and iPad Pro back to the OG. You can get it now, but just remember — beta means beta, so backup for you download, and then letsgooooo….
I’m guessing Apple just ran out of time last year and couldn’t bring a well-thought-out, screen-size optimized version of Widgets and App Library to both the iPhone and iPad at the same time. And like the Batman, iPhone always wins.
So, this year we’re getting just exactly that thought-out, big screened version, that also sports a new bigger widget size and support for the Home Screen rotation unique to the iPad, and an App Library icon on the Dock.
Just like the iPhone, you can now hide Home Pages you’re not using, and lean on Spotlight and App Library for your lesser used apps. Even if search and categorization can still be a bit… funky at times.
There are some new widgets, for Find My, Contacts, Mail, App Store, Game Center and more.
And… yeah, our long national iPad Home Screen nightmare is now officially over and we can move on.
No, you still can’t bootcamp into macOS on your iPad, or run it in a virtual machine, as interesting, tantalizing even, as all of that might well be. But Apple has seriously improved the multi-windowing experience on iPadOS itself.
It’s something they’ve been experimenting with for a few years now, and has gone from frustratingly limited to consternatingly fussy and overloaded. But now… now… Apple’s had another take-a-pencil-to-space moment of realization… and decided to a multitasking menu button to every window. And it’s so good!
Go to an app, tap the button, pick between split-view, slide-over, and the new center window, if it’s an option, and you’re off and productivizing, or creatoring, or however you multi do you.
It makes it super easy, not gonna say it again, to create app pairs, and to change them. Just touch the multitasking menu button, hold, and pull down. Then replace that app with the next one you want.
There’s also a new Shelf mechanic now that shows all the open windows from the same app. It’ll disappear when you’re working, come back when you tap the Multitasking menu button, and you can use it to quickly and easily swap to any of those open windows.
You can also create and change app pairs right in the App Switcher now as well, which is great. And you can even use the keyboard for full on multitasking and navigation now, which is greater. Like… Shakespeare the way it’s meant to be done greater.
The Globe key is also now an extra modifier, for even more options, and when you hold Command down to see your keyboard options, you can search to find exactly what you need.
In the biggest escalation of Continuity… ever… If you have a Mac, you can now use it to fully control your iPad. Up to two of your iPads, if you want. It’s not Sidecar, because your iPad stays an iPad, you can just keep your hands on your Mac’s keyboard and mouse or trackpad to use it.
I’ve done a whole entire explainer video on how exactly it works already, and I’ll link it in the description.
The iPad is getting all the same new FaceTime and Messages features as the iPhone, including SharePlay. I covered all the basics in the iOS 15 video, link in the description, but the longer form video experience is certainly more captivating on the bigger iPad display. Which also lets you fit 20 people into the new grid view, much more than the 6 that fit on the iPhone. So, you know, if you and the rest of your Hamilton cast want to jam about a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot
In the Caribbean… or, whatever.
Ditto the new Focus modes, which lets you set up customized do-not-disturb settings for different people and apps, even Home Screen pages, that you can turn on or off from your iPad or any Apple device, but work across all your devices. Again, more in the iOS 15 video.
Likewise, Safari is getting a slew of updates that I’ll be covering in the macOS Monterey video.
Swift Playgrounds though, is absolutely all about the iPad. New this year is the ability to design in SwiftUI, Apple’s next-generation, cross-device interface builder. And, in the biggest finally in the history of enormous finales, you can now publish right from Swift Playgrounds to the App Store.
In other words, you can finally make iOS apps on iOS. We lived to see it!
And yeah, sure, it’s not Xcode for iPad, at least not yet. But combined with the new Xcode Cloud, we’re closer than ever.
There’s a ton more as well, including all the new Maps, Accessibility, an privacy features. Which I covered in the iOS 15 video. But also some new gaming features.
iPadOS can buffer the last 15 seconds of your game play, so you can capture your best moves using game controllers, including the new support for Xbox Series XS and PS5 controllers.
Game Center lets you bring in your most recent contacts from messages, and there’s a new Game Center friend request inbox.
Along with Live Text & Translate, which I’m going to do a whole entire explainer on soon, Apple is also making Notes into a system-wide… extra-dimensional pocket Notes universe, with Quick Notes.
Just swipe diagonally up to invoke the floating Quick Notes window, and then you can throw in text, handwriting, sketches, whatever you need. Even links, which then creates persistent context for that Quick Note, that you can go back to whoever you want. Even on the web, where you can highlight, matching pages to your notes. You can even share them with friends, family, and colleagues, @mention people.
Quick Notes sync across iPad, Mac, even iPhone, and you can find them in their own little pocket universe or in the main Notes app any time.
And, I love it, it’s like a whole meta commentary layer on the app and web universes. Only drawback is that it’s limited to Apple’s Notes for now, but given how integration-happy Apple’s been lately, after their usual year of stress-testing, it’s not hard to imagine them making it available to other Notes providers.
If the built-in Notes is your jam, though, you can now draw on images, which yes thank you, and — and — Apple has bought back the magnifier for text editing. It lets you move the cursor position around with your finger and actually see where you’re moving it. It’s just… nowhere nearly as good looking or well magnified as it used to be, so fingers crossed Apple gives it lots more love before release.
Apple’s also adding tags this year, along with a tag-browser and Smart Folders based on the tags. The aforementioned @mentions for collaboration, along with an activity view and highlights to track those collaborations.
That’s not just for Notes but also for Reminders, which also gets Siri announcements for AirPods, and improved Natural Language input.
About all it needs now is the ability to machine learn tasks it knows I’m never going to do, and silently remove them over night so I don’t feel so damn guilty the next day, every day.