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Apple unveils iPadOS: Apple tablets are ditching iOS and getting their own PC-style operating system

The iPad has outgrown iOS and will get its own operating system called iPadOS

Immediately after iOS 13 features at WWDC 2019, Apple’s Craig Federighi flagged a major omission – there hadn’t been any mention of iPad. And for good reason. The iPad has outgrown iOS, and will be getting its own flavour of operating system called iPadOS.
While pointing out that the iPad would still benefit from all the goodies of iOS 13, Federighi went on to highlight some features uniquely suited to the bigger screen of the tablet. Features such as a more spacious layout of apps on the home screen, and the option to pin widgets.

 Multitasking also plays a large role, with the option to split the screen into two. Demonstrating with the Mail app, Federighi showed how he could easily create a second window, where searching old email for links and photos could be done in one window, before being dragged across to the email being composed.
You won’t be getting mobile pages sent to your big-screen iPad, either. Safari now offers desktop-style browsing alongside a download manager and 30 keyboard shortcuts.

The main list of iPadOS features are as follows:

  • Dark Mode: As with Dark Mode on iOS 13, iPadOS is getting an optional dark colour scheme to make it easier on the eyes in low-light environments.
  • Custom Fonts: For the first time you’ll be able to install custom fonts on the iPad, via iPadOS. Fonts from the likes of Adobe and Founder will be available on the App Store.
  • Floating keyboard: This feature has been designed to save space and supports Apple’s new swipe typing software, QuickPath. This is said to make one-handed typing easier and will more room on the display for you apps. It can be dragged anywhere on the screen.  
  • Sign In with Apple: This new privacy feature lets you sign into apps and websites using AppleID and your face. 
  • Performance improvements: Updates to the backend in iPadOS are said to make the operating system as a whole more responsive with faster Face ID unlock. iPad app download sizes are reduced by half and this reportedly makes app updates up to 60% smaller, with apps launching up to twice as fast. 

Elsewhere, Apple Pencil is getting a boost. Apple has reduced the latency of its smart pen from 20 milliseconds to nine, and created an API for third-party developers. Adding wider support for the Pencil seems like a big deal for Apple with the ability to mark up anything on supported apps with a “full-page capture” – essentially a screenshot where you can annotate and doodle to your heart’s content.  
Yet the biggest round of applause came for something PC users will take for granted: iPadOS supports USB thumb drives. You can even plug in directly to a camera and browse files directly from the device.
It all adds up to something that “takes the distinctive features of the iPad”, according to Tim Cook. Here’s hoping it doesn’t turn into another Android Honeycomb…

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