Apple’s WWDC keynote kicks off in less than two weeks, and we’re anticipating a great show packed with new operating system features and, hopefully, new hardware. We look forward to big iOS and macOS updates, but what we want most of all are meaningful changes for iPadOS.
Since iPadOS launched in 2019, Apple hasn’t given it the attention or identity it deserves. Last year it got the App Library and a disappointing implementation of desktop widgets, but hopefully iPadOS 16 is finally the update that elevates Apple’s tablet. Here are eight features we want to see unveiled at WWDC.
It’s one of those feature requests that pops up on everyone’s wishlist every year, and it will stick around until Apple decides to do something about it. It’s simple: if Apple wants the iPad to provide a better computing experience, it needs to support multiple user accounts. Like the Mac, people share iPads between family members and roommates, and you shouldn’t need to be tied to just one iCloud account.
For as good as the iPad Pro’s hardware, form factor and processor, it’s still stuck with the same interface as its distant $329 cousin and heavily crippled by iOS. And as it stands, the Magic Keyboard is more of a handy desk accessory than a productivity tool, but giving it a new interface would make it much more useful. A desktop or pro mode would instantly change that.
Google is doing something similar with its Chrome tablets, but Apple could do better with a hybrid macOS-iPadOS environment that seamlessly switches between tablet mode and desktop mode while unlocking the benefits of a touchpad with an intuitive interface. and powerful.
Speaking of pro mode, if Apple wants the iPad to be a desktop alternative, it needs desktop apps. Many third-party developers make them – Adobe, Pixelmator, Shapr3D – but Apple’s core apps are missing from the iPad. Where is Final Cut Pro? X code? Pro Logic? Movement? It’s been over six years since Apple released the iPad Pro and we’re still waiting for Apple to release a single pro app for it.
External monitor support
The iPad technically supports external displays, but it’s about as rudimentary as it gets. When you plug an iPad into an external display, you’ll see a home screen just like your iPad, with ugly black bars on either side. Yes, some apps take advantage of unique dual-screen capabilities, such as Procreate and LumaFusion, but for the most part the experience is less than great. Much like the Magic Keyboard suggestion above, we’d like to plug an iPad into an external display and get an extended desktop like the Mac.
iPadOS 15 has a really cool feature called Quick Notes that lets you swipe up from the edge of the screen to reveal a floating square that lets you quickly jot down your thoughts and then swipe it down. It’s a nice feature that’s frustrating because it’s so limited. If Apple can do that instant access with Notes, it can be done with Calculator, Music, Messages – any app that needs no more than a small window and a few seconds of interaction. It’s not unlike our wish for interactive widgets on the iPhone, but they’d be even more useful on the iPad, where multitasking is key to the experience.
Speaking of multitasking, iPadOS is in dire need of an upgrade. The current incarnation is confusing and clunky, and Apple’s changes in iOS 15 – the shelf and the three-dot menu – attempt to clear up some of the confusion while adding unnecessary layers of complexity. Someone new to the iPad can’t just turn on their tablet and instantly know how to multitask – and we’re willing to bet many, if not most iPad users don’t even know how to use split screen and swipe.
On Mac, there is nothing to learn. Someone new to the platform will instantly know how to multi-task without a tutorial or learning curve. Multitasking on the iPad doesn’t have to be like the Mac, but it does need the same level of intuition.
Freedom from the grid
We understand why Apple loves the grid on the iPhone. With a small screen, icons and apps need to be neat and organized, but that’s not as important with a tablet. Since its debut in 2010, the iPad has struggled with the iPhone’s grid that is too spacious, too confined, and too restrictive. And now that we have desktop widgets, the constraints seem even more restrictive.
Widgets on the iPad might be a better experience, but Apple stopped short of giving us a customizable, personalized desktop. Rather than having them all shuffled at the top of the grid, icons should be able to be placed anywhere on the screen and locked to the nearest grid. Then we could create an iPad desktop that we don’t really mind.
There are reports that Apple is planning to launch a few “fresh” apps at WWDC, but all we really want are the missing iOS apps on the iPad: including Weather, Wallet, Calculator, and Health. We don’t know why they aren’t there, but it’s high time Apple added them.