Apple’s WWDC keynote kicks off in less than two weeks, and we’re anticipating a huge extravaganza packed with new OS features and hopefully new hardware. We expect big updates to iOS and macOS, but what we want most are some significant changes to iPadOS.
Ever since iPadOS was released in 2019, Apple hasn’t given it the attention or identity it deserves. Last year, it got the app library and a disappointing implementation of desktop widgets, but we’re hoping iPadOS 16 will finally be the update that elevates Apple’s tablet. Here are eight features we want to see featured at WWDC.
This is one of those feature requests that appears on everyone’s wish list every year, and it will remain until Apple decides to do something about it. It’s simple: If Apple wants the iPad to offer a better computing experience, it must allow multiple user accounts. Like the Mac, people share iPads between family members and roommates, and you shouldn’t need to be linked to just one iCloud account.
As good as the iPad Pro’s hardware, form factor, and processor is, it still has the same interface as its distant $329 cousin and is severely hampered by iOS. And as it stands, the Magic Keyboard is more of a convenient desk accessory than a productivity tool, but giving it a new interface would make it much more useful. A desktop or professional mode would change that instantly.
Google does something similar with its Chrome tablets, but Apple could do better with a hybrid macOS-iPadOS environment that switches seamlessly between tablet and desktop mode while unlocking the benefits of a touchpad with an intuitive and powerful interface.
Speaking of professional mode, if Apple wants the iPad to be an alternative to a desktop computer, it needs desktop-caliber apps. Many third-party developers make them (Adobe, Pixelmator, Shapr3D), but Apple’s core apps aren’t in action on the iPad. Where is Final Cut Pro? Xcode? Professional logic? Movement? It’s been more than six years since Apple released the iPad Pro and we’re still waiting for Apple to release a single pro app for it.
Compatibility with external monitors
The iPad does technically support external displays, but it’s as rudimentary as it gets. When you connect an iPad to an external display, you’ll see a home screen identical to your iPad, with ugly black bars on either side. Yes, some apps take advantage of unique dual-screen capabilities, like Procreate and LumaFusion, but for the most part, the experience is less than great. Like the Magic Keyboard suggestion above, we’d love to connect an iPad to an external display and get an expansive Mac-like desktop.
iPadOS 15 has a very cool feature called Sticky Notes that lets you swipe in from the edge of the screen to bring up a floating square that lets you quickly jot down your thoughts and then swipe away. It’s a cool feature that’s frustrating because it’s so limited. If Apple can make this instant access with Notes, it can do it with a calculator, Music, Messages, any app that doesn’t need more than a small window and a few seconds of interaction. It’s not unlike our desire for interactive widgets on the iPhone, but they’d be even more useful on the iPad, where multitasking is key to the experience.
Speaking of multitasking, iPadOS is in dire need of an update. The current incarnation is confusing and clunky, and Apple’s changes in iOS 15 (the shelf and three-dot menu) attempt to clear up some of the confusion while adding unnecessary layers of complexity. Someone new to the iPad can’t just turn on their tablet and instantly know how to multitask, and we’re willing to bet that many if not most iPad users don’t even know how to use split screen and slide.
On the Mac, there is nothing to learn. Anyone new to the platform will instantly know how to multitask without a tutorial or learning curve. Multitasking on the iPad doesn’t have to be like the Mac, but it does require the same level of intuition.
freedom of the net
We understand why Apple likes the grid on the iPhone. With a small screen, icons and apps need to be neat and organized, but that’s not as important with a tablet. Since its debut in 2010, the iPad has been saddled with the iPhone grid that’s too spacious, too cramped, and too cramped. And now that we have desktop widgets, the restrictions feel even more restrictive.
Widgets on the iPad might be a better experience, but Apple stopped short of giving us a personalized, customizable desktop. Instead of having them all scrambled to the top of the grid, the icons should be able to be placed anywhere on the screen and lock onto the nearest grid. Then we could create an iPad desktop that we really don’t mind looking at.
There are reports that Apple plans to launch some “new” apps at WWDC, but all we really want is for the missing iOS apps to make it to the iPad: in particular, Weather, Wallet, Calculator, and Health. We don’t know why they’re not there, but it’s about time Apple added them.