Apple's OS for iPad includes several features that make it easier to use the iPad as a laptop replacement. Here's what you need to know about iPadOS.
Since the launch of the first-generation iPad in 2010, Apple has dominated the tablet market. Originally launching with iPhone OS 3.2, the first-generation 9.7" iPad was architecturally akin to a large iPhone. With successive models, Apple has differentiated the iPad from the iPhone by adding support for input methods such as the Apple Pencil, and different screen sizes, such as the 7.9" iPad Mini, and the 11", and 12.9" iPad Pro.
As the iPad lineup has expanded into a wholly separate product category, Apple announced at its 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that it has rebranded iOS for iPad as "iPadOS" (starting with iOS 13) to highlight and target the features that differentiate the iPad from other devices. This follows Apple's naming trend of watchOS for Apple Watch, and tvOS for Apple TV.
TechRepublic's cheat sheet for iPadOS is a quick overview to how iPadOS differs from iOS, as well as a "living" guide that will be updated periodically as new information becomes available. It is also available as a download, Apple iPadOS: A cheat sheet (free PDF).
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What is iPadOS?
For the release of iOS 13, Apple is rebranding the variant of iOS for the iPad as iPadOS, effectively making it a superset of the phone-oriented iOS. iPadOS inherits all of the improvements coming to iOS 13, and includes new features and optimizations specific to the iPad.
"It's become a truly distinct experience," Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, told CNET in an exclusive interview about iPadOS. "It's not an iPhone experience. It's not a Mac experience. The name is a recognition of that."
- WWDC 2019: Apple unveils iPadOS with improved Safari, multitasking, and new homescreen (ZDNet)
- WWDC 2019: Everything Apple announced about iPadOS, watchOS 6, iOS 13, apps and what really matters (ZDNet)
- WWDC 2019: Apple debuts new privacy features in iOS 13 (ZDNet)
- WWDC 2019: iOS 13 will make your iPhone and iPad faster (ZDNet)
- WWDC 2019: A guide for business pros (TechRepublic Premium)
- More Apple-related news and tips (TechRepublic on Flipboard)
How is iPadOS different from iOS?
iPadOS brings the iPad closer to feature parity with the entry-level MacBook, making it more possible to use as a laptop replacement.
iPadOS includes the following features:
Tablet-oriented home screen — The iPadOS home screen now supports persistent widgets, similar to widgets on Android tablets since Android 3.0 (Honeycomb).
Improved multitasking — Users can move between Slide Over apps by swiping along the bottom, or swiping up to see all the apps in the Slide Over view. Slide Over apps can be moved to full screen by dragging them to the top, or closed by opening to the app switcher and flicking the app upward.
Desktop Safari — Safari now loads the desktop version of web pages, optimized for touchscreens, as well as better support for Google Docs and WordPress editor. Some 30 new keyboard shortcuts were added to Safari.
External drive support — USB drives and SD cards are now supported in Files, making it possible to plug in to an iPad directly without needing third-party program or an intermediary Mac for file management.
Improvements to Files app — Files adds a column view similar to Finder on Mac OS, as well as support for SMB shares.
Camera support — Cameras can be connected directly to the iPad, and photos can be imported for editing on iPad apps, such as Adobe Lightroom.
Font support — Fonts can be downloaded from the App Store, for use in various apps.
New gestures for faster editing — Copy, paste, and undo can now be performed using three-finger gestures, with three-finger pinch to copy, three-finger spread to paste, and three-finger swipe to undo, available for first-party and third-party apps.
Apple Pencil improvements — Swiping from the corner of the screen with Apple Pencil opens the markup view, allowing users to annotate anything on the screen, and export it. Latency for Apple Pencil was decreased from 20ms to 9ms.
Sidecar — Users can extend their Mac OS desktop onto the iPad as a second display, or mirror content between both displays. When used in conjunction with the Apple Pencil, Sidecar can make the iPad usable as a drawing tablet. Sidecar works via a wired connection, or wirelessly within 10 meters.
Trackpad support — There is support for Apple's Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2, as well as third-party accessories connected over Bluetooth or USB. According to ZDNet's Jason Cipriani, "mouse support is an AssistiveTouch feature and also works when a Magic Trackpad is connected to the iPad," and that it provides "a circular cursor that moves across the screen, acting as a finger would when touching the screen. It's unclear how multi-touch gestures would work with a mouse pointer."
Scribble — This feature in iPadOS 14 for Apple Pencil will allow Pencil owners to handwrite in any text field and have it automatically translated from handwriting to type. On launch, it will support English and traditional and simplified Chinese, and can even distinguish between the two when used together in the same text field.
- Apple iOS 13: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- WWDC: iOS 13, iPadOS, Mac Pro, and more of what businesses need to know (TechRepublic)
- Apple iOS 13: New Siri voice, camera features, Dark Mode, privacy tools for iPhone (CNET)
- iOS 13 is packed with new features (CNET)
- Apple Mac Pro or cheese grater? WWDC inspires muenster debate on Twitter (CNET)
- iPadOS public beta hands-on: The beginning of a transformation (CNET)
What devices can use iPadOS?
iPadOS is available for the 12.9", 11", 10.5", and 9.7" iPad Pro, the 5th, 6th, and 7th generation iPad, the 4th and 5th generation iPad mini, and 2nd and 3rd generation iPad Air. The Apple iPad Pro 2020 ships with iPadOS 13.4 preinstalled.
- Apple introduces iPadOS, giving iPads their own operating system (CNET)
- Don't buy these Apple products: February 2020 edition (ZDNet)
- Apple's new MacBook Air and iPad Pro: New floating case, trackpad support and lidar (CNET)
- Apple's new iPads: The features business users will love (TechRepublic)
When was iPadOS released?
Apple first announced iPadOS at WWDC 2019; the company announced iPadOS 14 at WWDC 2020. Developer betas were made available on June 22, 2020, the day of the announcement. The public beta for iPadOS 14 was released on July 9, 2020, and the final release is expected Fall 2020.
- iOS 14 public beta is here. How to download and install it on your iPhone now (CNET)
- How to become an iOS developer: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- The Apple Developer Program: What professionals need to know (TechRepublic)
- Photos: Apple iPad models through the years (TechRepublic)
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How do I get iPadOS?
The update is now available on compatible iPad models. To update, open the Settings app, and go to General > Software Update. For users of LTE-capable iPads, connecting to Wi-Fi is advisable to avoid overages or throttling as a result of downloading the update. ZDNet has additional advice on preparing your iPad for software updates.
- How to download and install the iOS 14, iPadOS 14 developer beta (CNET)
- Which iPad should you buy? (CNET)
- Apps for getting creative on the iPad Pro (Download.com)
- Android tablet market shrinks even smaller as ASUS reportedly exits (TechRepublic)
- Get our latest coverage about mobile devices (TechRepublic on Flipboard)
Editor's note: This article was originally written by James Sanders, and it was updated by Brandon Vigliorolo to include iPadOS 14 details.