Good news! Apple has now pushed the latest version of its software live. It’s the first time Apple has made a piece of software that’s specifically designed for iPads. It’s now ready to download around the world, and it should come up as iPadOS 13.1 when you’re ready to download it.
The new operating system is a big change for Apple, which finally committed to splitting the iPad’s software from the iPhone’s iOS it had run on since the tablet first came out.
The update means iPad owners are finally able to play Apple Arcade, the new gaming subscription service – and enjoy all the new tricks and tweaks coming to Apple tablets.
Which iPads work with iPadOS?
The following iPads can get an update to iPadOS now:
- iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)
- iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)
- iPad Pro 12.9 (2015)
- iPad Pro 11 (2018)
- iPad Pro 10.5 (2017)
- iPad Pro 9.7 (2016)
- iPad Air (2019)
- iPad Air 2
- iPad (2018)
- iPad (2017)
- iPad Mini (2019)
- iPad Mini 4
Below, we have a list of the best iPadOS features you’re now able to experience when the new software hits your slate. It “builds on the same foundation as iOS,” according to Apple, but expect iPadOS to grow more into its own operating system over time.
iPadOS brings a variety of critical improvements to the tablet UI. Some of these make better use of screen real estate while others introduce new gesture controls (and even mouse support) for a better tablet experience.
1. New iPadOS home screen
The first big change over you’ll notice in iPadOS is on the new home screen. The grid of app icons is tighter, allowing you to fit more on the screen and reducing the amount of dead space on the display.
With a tighter grid of apps, there’s now an option to show Today View alongside them, for a more useful overview screen.
It can be added to the Home screen for quick access to widgets with a simple swipe from the left side of the screen, and you can switch out the widgets pinned here to display the ones most relevant to you.
2. iPadOS gets USB drive and SD card support
External storage fans rejoice! iPadOS allows you to plug a USB drive or SD card reader into your iPad, and the Files app will be able to read the plugin and allow you to easily manage data between the iPad’s internal storage and the external drive.
Files gets a Column View to better take advantage of the iPad’s wide screen, and the iCloud Drive allows folder sharing, and will show content from a USB drive or SD card if they’re plugged in.
There’s good news for photographers too, as support is being built into iPadOS to allow you to plug your camera into your iPad and import images directly into editing apps such as Lightroom.
3. DARK MODE
Apple put some care into getting this right, it’s far more than just an inversion of white and black. You’ll find a surprising number of apps support it — even if they are still in the minority, it’s more than I expected at this point.
I especially like that you can just set it on a schedule, just like with Night Shift. I still think that dark mode is more of a UI trend than a genuine improvement, but that’s not a knock against it. User interfaces have trends just like fashion, but I think dark mode is going to last if only because it makes the screen so much nicer to view at night.
4. New FILES APP
When Apple switched the iPad Pro over to USB-C, everybody started thinking about that port as useful for something other than a charger. And with iOS 12, very few things actually worked.
With iPadOS, that port has been allowed to do more things, and the best set of features is in the Files app. It can read USB drives and cards directly now, and you can even unplug those devices without the operating system chiding you.
But Apple did much more than that. It added a column view, set it up to work better with external servers, and finally allows you to just set up and organize local folders more easily.
Related: Safari has a proper download manager now that can download nearly any file, not just the limited set that iOS allowed before.
5. iPadOS performance boost
Your current iPad could get a performance boost when iPadOS arrives, with Apple claiming that its tablet-specific operating system is quicker than iOS 12.
It says Face ID unlocks are up to 30% faster, while apps launch up to twice as fast as on iOS 12 – and apps themselves should be smaller in download size (by up to 50%), taking up less of that precious storage space.
6. Desktop-quality websites and browsing on iPadOS
The Safari web browser is also improved with iPadOS, because it’s no longer purely tied to iOS and a mobile ecosystem.
That’s right: you’re no longer just viewing mobile sites, as iPadOS views websites in a modified desktop view that’s a bit cleaner and optimized for touch.
It doesn’t just work with Apple’s websites either – the likes of Google Docs and WordPress web apps will also work better with Safari on iPadOS.
Apple’s browser will also get a download manager, 30 new keyboard shortcuts, and improved tab management when iPadOS lands later this year.
7. New iPadOS gestures
In some apps, you’ll also be able to two-finger-pinch the keyboard to shrink it to iOS mobile size and move it around. Plunk it next to the side of the screen and boom: you can type on it with one thumb.
Add to that the new gestures for the home screen and multi-tasking, and there may be a learning curve required to get used to all the new interactions which come with iPadOS.
8. Markup and much more on iPadOS
A simple swipe up from the corner with your Apple Pencil launches markup and brings up the newly-redesigned tool palette, which can be dragged around and repositioned anywhere on the screen.
And speaking of the Pencil, Apple has reduced the latency of its input from 20ms to 9ms, which means you’ll get a more natural, pen-like experience when using it.
9. Mouse support for iPadOS
iPadOS does support connecting a mouse to your iPad, though it’s not something you’ll find front-and-center on the official iPadOS features list.
Developer Steve Troughton-Smith initially tweeted out instructions he’d discovered to connect a mouse through new Accessibility settings, and Tom’s Guide successfully activated a mouse on an iPad.
While it doesn’t seem to be the smoothest thing, we’re excited for a serious leap in the iPad family’s productivity potential and accessibility.
Again, you should not judge what you are installing today based on this, but you might want to be prepared for some weirdness still. I can’t help but think that iPadOS is getting pushed out a little early because it needs to go out with iOS 13.1 — which itself needs to be rushed out because iOS 13.0 is super buggy.
Luckily, the most catastrophic bugs (like losing data in iCloud) seem to have been well and thoroughly quashed. But you might have some apps crash or freeze. Waiting a little longer to install — or at least avoiding installing on day one — is never a terrible idea.