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iPadOS 16: What New Features Do We Want

It’s about time Apple took its tablet to the next level. The WWDC offers the opportunity for this. Apple’s developer conference, WWDC, starts in just over a week. We expect a great keynote on Whit Monday with new versions of all Apple operating systems and hopefully new hardware. We look forward to significant updates to iOS and macOS, but we want the most meaningful changes to iPadOS. 

Since the launch of iPadOS in 2019, Apple hasn’t given the operating system the attention it deserves. Last year it got the App Library and an unconvincing implementation of desktop widgets, but we’re hoping iPadOS 16 finally upgrades the tablet. We would like to see these eight features at WWDC.

Multiple Users

This feature pops up on everyone’s wish lists every year, and it will stay that way until Apple decides to grant the wish. If Apple wants the iPad to offer a better computing experience, it needs to allow multiple user accounts. As with the Mac, iPads are shared between family members and roommates, and one shouldn’t be tied to a single iCloud account.

Desktop Mode

As good as the iPad Pro’s hardware, form factor, and processor are, it still has the same user interface as its $400 cousin — iPadOS limits the experience. The Magic Keyboard is a handy desktop accessory rather than a productivity tool, but it would be more helpful with a new interface.

A desktop or pro mode would change that in an instant. Google is showing off something similar with its Chrome tablets. Still, Apple could do better with a hybrid macOS-iPadOS environment that switches seamlessly between tablet and desktop modes while unlocking the benefits of a touchpad with an intuitive, powerful interface.

Per Apps

Speaking of Pro Mode, if Apple wants the iPad to be an alternative to a desktop computer, it needs desktop-class apps. Many third-party developers offer these – Adobe, Pixelmator, Shapr3D – but Apple’s core apps are missing from the iPad. Where is Final Cut Pro? Xcode? Logic Pro? Movement? It’s been over six years since Apple released the iPad Pro, and we’re still waiting for Apple to release a single pro app for the device.

External Monitor Support

The iPad technically supports external displays, but that’s only rudimentary. When you connect an iPad to an external display, you see an identical home screen to the iPad, with ugly black bars on each side. Yes, some apps like Procreate and LumaFusion take advantage of the unique dual-screen abilities, but overall the experience isn’t great. Like the Magic Keyboard, we’d like to connect the iPad to an external display and get a large desktop like the Mac.

Floating Windows

iPadOS 15 has a very cool feature called Quick Notes, which lets you swipe from the edge of the screen to bring up a floating square where you can quickly jot down thoughts. This is a great feature but frustrating because of its limitations. If Apple can make this instant access with Notes, you can do it with a calculator, music, or messages — any app that needs nothing more than a small window and a few seconds of interaction. That’s not dissimilar to our desire for interactive widgets on the iPhone, but they’d be even more helpful on the iPad, where multitasking is key to the experience.

Smarter Multitasking

Speaking of multitasking, iPadOS is in dire need of an upgrade. The current version is confusing and clunky, and Apple’s changes in iOS 15 – the tray and three-dot menu – attempt to eliminate some of the confusion while adding unnecessary complexity. A newbie iPad user can’t just turn on their tablet and instantly know how to multitask — in fact, we bet most iPad users don’t even know how to use split-screen and slide-over.

There is nothing to learn on the Mac. Someone brand new to the platform will know how to multitask right away with no instructions or a learning curve. Multitasking on the iPad doesn’t have to be like it is on Mac, but it does require the same level of intuition.

Away From The Grid

We understand why Apple likes the grid on the iPhone. On a small screen, icons and apps need to be neat and organized, but that’s not as important on a tablet. Since its debut in 2010, the iPad has worked with the iPhone grid, too big and too constraining. And now that we already have desktop widgets, the limitations feel even more restrictive.

Widgets on the iPad could be a better experience, but Apple has failed to give us a customizable, personalized desktop. Instead of placing them all at the top of the grid, the icons should be able to be placed anywhere on the screen and locked to the nearest grid. Then you could create an iPad desktop that you enjoy looking at.

Missing Apps

There are reports that Apple plans to unveil some “new” apps at WWDC, but all we want is for the missing iOS apps to come to the iPad: primarily Weather, Wallet, Calculator, and Health. We don’t know why Apple still hasn’t developed these apps for the iPad. It’s about time. 


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