iPadOS 13 Impressions

The wait is over!!

iPadOS is here, opening the gates to the future! A future where the iPad is further branching away from iOS and establishing its position as a strong and viable computing platform.

This post is not a full review of iPadOS (for that, checkout the Macstories review). Instead, this is where I note down my impressions of the new update; The most important features and how is it changing the way I work.

# Anticipation

At the WWDC last June (2019), Apple announced iPadOS 13 alongside iOS 13. It was, in effect, a confirmation of Apple’s commitment for the iPad and what makes it unique compared to the iPhone.

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy having iOS 13 on the iPhone and waiting a couple of additional days for iPadOS. In a way, though, this gave us some time to get to know a few important new features before going through them on the iPad (like the new share sheet, context menus, new shortcuts, etc.)

Even though iPadOS was initially announced to be released on 30/September, we were pleasantly surprised of its availability a couple of days earlier! Psychologically, that just shoots excitement levels to the top!

Next thing you know, I was downloading the update on my iPad Pro 11″ … and frequently checking the expected remaining time.. !

# Installation

Usually, I would advice you to always perform a backup of your iPad or iPhone before a major update. This time, though, my anticipation took hold of the wheel and I just pressed the “Download and Install” button!

Thankfully, the iPad came back alive after a while, and I started exploring the new features (starting, of course, with the cool Dark Mode!).

# Top features

The most important new features for me are the new Multi-window abilities, advancements to the Files app, advancements to the home screen, and Shortcuts.

Since iOS 9, I’ve always been a heavy user of the multi-window feature on the iPad. It was an important step toward transforming the iPad into a true productivity beast. You could now have multiple windows of the same app side by side, and across different “spaces.” Most useful to me at the moment, however, is the multi-window support for Slide Over, where you could have multiple apps that you could move between in a manner similar to app switching on an iPhone. My current arsenal of tasks at the Slide Over are Calendar, OmniFocus, Drafts, a window of Safari as well.

Next is the Files app. It has finally gained the ability to read external USB flash drives (via an adaptor), which is greatly empowering. I have experimented with a few flash drives and it worked well, except for being slow with drives having many large files. Other important improvements to the Files app are the addition of a 3-column view and the ability to unzip compressed files! The usefulness of these little features should not be underestimated!

Improvements to the home screen are also notable, where the app items are more condensed. More importantly, I’m taking advantage of the ability to pin widgets, where I currently have widgets of Calendar, Shortcuts, tasks (OmniFocus), and weather. (See photo at the beginning of this post).

One important aspect of the iOS is automation via the Shortcuts app. With iOS 13.1 and iPadOS, this is even further enhanced with an easier to use Editor, and with the ability to use triggers to automatically run shortcuts. It is one part of the new update that I’m still getting used to. In addition, I have recently bought a set of NFC tags (for automating actions by just touching the tag with an iPhone) and can’t wait to try them out!

# Other areas

Here’s a quick look at other notable areas of enhancements for me:

– Context menus

With a long press, I’m gaining new ways of sharing and engaging with the content/apps, like quickly adding an inbox item to OmniFocus.

– Improved Share Sheet

Related to the above, Siri gives you smart suggestions and the sheet is better organized overall.

– Dark mode

It’s just cool! It provides a nice refreshed interface.

– Floating keyboard

This is an interesting feature (especially with the swiping function!), and offers more screen space if you’re not using a physical keyboard.

– Pencil screen capture and editing

With the Apple Pencil, drag diagonally from a bottom corner to capture a screenshot. You could then utilize the updated annotation pallet. After you’re done, simply share it away!

– Mouse support (an accessibility feature)

I imagine this would be more useful to some people than others. Since I often take hand notes, I don’t see this as a useful working scenario for me, at least not at the moment.

# Closing thoughts

All in all, iPadOS 13 is a very welcome upgrade that you should definitely download and install. With improvements like multi-windowed Slide Over, the files app reading flash drives, the new home screen with widgets, and the simplified and enhanced Shortcuts, the iPad is now notably more able to replace your laptop as your main computer on the go (and perhaps, as your main computer, period!).

To get the most from the new improvements, you would need to do some re-learning. Several gestures are new, and the device works a bit differently. In essence, my earlier advice to you on this blog holds true here again: you need to put in some time and experimentation to gradually make the iPad your own tailor-made device. With some patience, you would begin to experience the value of true mobile productivity.

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