WWDC19 | Apple unleashes the iPad with new iPadOS fork
Apple has unveiled iPadOS at its WWDC 2019 Conference which is a new forked version of iOS designed specifically for the iPad. It is much more than a simple rebranding as the new features and extended functionality make the iPad much more Mac-like than it has ever been, while still retaining a distinctively iOS-like experience. Think of iPadOS as being something of a mid-way point between iOS and macOS making it an overdue overhaul that will truly help users to tap into the power of the iPad in ways had previously been frustratingly limited.
The biggest changes that make iOS much more functional than in the past include the addition of a much more robust filing system that for the first time allows users to attach external hard drives or thumb drives to share files. The multitasking functionality has been improved by allowing users to have more than one window of the same app open at a time. Text editing has been dramatically improved with the ability to easily move the cursor around the screen with a finger and intelligently select a single word, a sentence or an entire paragraph with taps, instead of need to manually resize each specific text selection.
Mouse support has been added too, although it is an accessibility feature. Safari is also now much more like a desktop browser and can support desktop sites and full web app versions of Google Docs and Microsoft Office, which should help negate a key advantage of Chromebooks. A new feature called SideCar turns supported iPads into an editing tool that can be used in conjunction with a Mac to touch up images, for example, much like using the iPad as a Wacom tablet.
iPadOS is currently in beta and is available to developers with a public beta to follow in around a month. It will eventually roll out in Spring. It is compatible with a limited number of more recent iPads including: 12.9-inch, 11-inch, 10.5-inch and 9.7-inch iPad Pro models. It is also compatible with second and third generation iPad Air models and regular iPad fifth and sixth generation models. iPadOS will also work on the fifth generation iPad mini and the new iPad mini 4.