Last week’s launch of the new iPhone 11, Apple Watch 5, a new entry-level iPad 10.2, Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade services are all great news for Apple fans, but one of the things that really excites me is iPadOS 13.
I’ve been using the beta versions of iPadOS, but now the final release is available for everyone to download.
There’s a ton of new features and improvements, but I just want to focus on some aspects of the new update that make the iPad more like a real computer and not just a fantastic tablet for media consumption.
There are specific things that are common between iOS13 for iPhones, but the iPad OS 13 has new features that are specific to the iPad only.
To be clear, I’ve been testing iPad OS13 on an iPad Pro 2018, which features the newer USB-C port, so I was able to use a standard USB-C dongle that has standard USB ports as well as SD, MicroSD and USB-C ports on it.
The new update brings mouse support, although you have to turn on AssistiveTouch in the settings in the Accessibility menu for it to work.
When you connect a mouse a round cursor will appear which works as you’d expect. You can change the colour and size of the cursor, but not the shape.
It does support the scroll wheel, which is convenient when scrolling through documents and web pages.
This isn’t something I’ve ever really wanted on an iPad, but some have argued that for the iPad to be more like a computer, it needed mouse support and now it does.
You can also connect a keyboard, but that was already supported in iOS 12.
Multitasking is one of the key areas that differentiate the iPad from a regular PC or Mac, and iOS13 has made some improvements in this area.
You can now keep multiple apps at the ready in Slide Over and quickly access your favourites with just a swipe.
When an app is floating at the side of your iPad’s display, you can quickly swipe along the bottom to switch between them, swipe up to see all the open Slide Over apps, or drag a Slide Over app to the top of your screen to make it full screen.
You can now open multiple windows from the app in Split View, which is ideal for two notes or documents, viewing two maps, or organising files in the Files app.
Open a window from the same app in multiple spaces so you can work on different projects across your iPad.
Another handy feature is that you can quickly open a window by dragging the content into its own space. Drag a link to open Safari, a location to open Maps, or an email address to open Mail.
App Exposé works a little as it does on the Mac where you can see all the open windows for an app by tapping its icon in the Dock.
One of the biggest changes happens in the Files app, which now supports external drives including USB memory drives, disk drives, and even SD cards with an adapter. However, it still has limitations that need to be improved on.
It’s great that I can now access my SD card or hard drive in the Files app to quickly import RAW and jpeg files from my camera, but I first have to import them into the Photos app.
When you go to add photos from within Lightroom, you’ll see the Files apps, but you won’t see the SD card.
Hopefully, this gets fixed in an update to Lightroom and other apps. Additionally, you can now access SMB file shares, which is incredibly useful.
Safari now works as a desktop browser. This is a real game-changer for me because now I can use my iPad where web pages and services act and look like they do on my PC.
This means you get the full website rather than a dumbed-down mobile version.
In order to make a website viewable on a small screen, they’ll strip features and functionality found on the desktop version of the site.
With this, you also get a download manager where you can check the status of a file you’re downloading, access downloaded files quickly, and drag and drop them into a file or email you’re working on.
You can even download files in the background while you get work done. Overall, this is by far the best update to the iPad in years.
The iPad won’t replace your PC or Mac just yet, but thanks to this update, it’s now even more useful than ever for real work.