iPad OS : A Decade in the Making

Apple iPad OS WWDC

It is hard to believe that it's already been almost 10 years since the launch of the original iPad, and even more surprising, that it took Apple so long to give the device an operating system of its own. The launch of the iPad OS is the answer to the prayers of frustrated iPad owners all over the world, who up until now had to contend with the weird spacing and layout issues that a stretched out iOS caused in the iPad, not to mention the utter lack of multi-tasking and connectivity features. If it wasn't for the top-of-the-line hardware, the iPad would never have been able to dominate the tablet space like it did.

Now that the device is finally receiving its due, let us see what new capabilities are unlocked by the iPad OS.

1. Home Screen: The home screen witnesses the inclusion of one of the most basic, yet most demanded feature for tablets; i.e. the ability to resize and add icons and widgets to the home screen. This is an immediate improvement over iPad's running iOS, as you finally get to customize the home screen according to your preferred layout.

2. Multi-tasking: Apple introduced the Split View mode for the iPad few months ago, but the feature truly comes in to its own with iPad OS, as you can now swipe through apps within the split view bar, as well as drag and drop files easily between the apps, while in split view. More importantly, you also get the ability to open multiple windows of the same app, something that wasn't allowed in iPad until now.

3. Files: The files app finally becomes a competent file manager with a new Mac like interface for handling files, while also displaying important metadata and previews. But what really seals the deal is the option for SMB file sharing, iCloud Drive folder sharing, and support for external storage devices such as thumb drives, SD card etc. How the device survived for 10 years on the market without these essential features if beyond me.

4. Safari: Considering the size of the screen, it is a good move by Apple to enable desktop site browsing by default. You also get a host of features that come with desktop browsing, such as the much awaited in-built downloader for Safari.

5. Input: While interacting with the touch screen of an iPad is always a joy, the experience still lacks a certain effortlessness due to the boring stock keyboard. To correct this, the iPad OS features a floating resizable keyboard that can be used in multiple sizes and letter configuration. In addition, the keyboard also gets the option for typing by swiping, a feature that is common in most third party keyboard apps. You can also change the font, which is a hilarious example of Apple's general hesitance with giving over control to users, as well as their perception of what cutting edge innovation should be.

By now most android users will be scratching their heads wondering what's the big deal with these improvements, but for Apple users this is a  cathartic moment, as they can finally hold their head up and say that the tablet they bought for almost a lakh, can finally do what the cheapest android devices have been doing for years now. All in all, it is one giant leap for Apple, but barely a step in the right direction according to everyone else.

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