Apple iPadOS debuts September 30 with redesigned home screen, upgraded multi-tasking and Mac-like features

Never mind iOS 13, your Apple iPad will run iPadOS from the end of the month

Apple iPadOS

From the end of this month, your Apple iPad will no longer run iOS. Instead, the Californian company will debut an all-new fork of the hugely popular iOS mobile operating system, which has powered every iteration of the iPhone and iPad since their inception in 2007 and 2010 respectively, dubbed iPadOS.

The iPhone series – including the shiny new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max – will continue to be powered by iOS and will be getting a truck load of new features in the forthcoming iOS 13. While the iPad series has a number of tablet-specific features in iPadOS going forward. Your old iPad will be able to upgrade to the all-new operating system on September 30, 2019.

The move to iPadOS isn't that surprising. For years, Apple has been adding new capabilities and features to iOS that were only accessible on iPad – like the ability to run multiple apps side-by-side, a redesigned Dock that resembled the Mac feature, and the ability to split the keyboard in half to use two-handed, to name just a few.

Apple iPadOS still shared a lot of DNA with iOS 13, including a system-wide Dark Mode for one, but also brings a slew of productivity-focused features that should enable those with an Apple iPad Pro to get some real work done on-the-move.

One of the biggest visual changes to iPadOS compared to iOS is the inclusion of widgets on the home screen. On iOS, users need to swipe to the left to open a list of app widgets. On iPadOS, these are always visible alongside the grid of apps. 

Apple iPadOS

Speaking of the grid, Apple has slimmed down the amount of space between each app icon – so iPad owners will be able to cram in a few more applications on each panel of the home screen. Admittedly, this isn't quite the ground-up visual redesign that many iOS and iPadOS users have been calling for after more than after 15 years of the same rounded-icons-on-a-fixed-grid design, but it's definitely a start. 

iPad owners can now work with multiple files and documents from the same app by loading multiple screens in Split View. Until now, it was only possible to divide-up the screen with two different apps. iPadOS also includes App Exposé – a quick preview of just the open windows for any one app with a simple tap, so you can quickly cycle through all of the Microsoft Word documents you have open, without having to trawl through Spotify, Safari, Mail, Messages, or anything else that might be running.

If the feature sounds at all familiar, it's likely because it's already baked into macOS, showing just how close the iPad is getting to the traditional desktop experience.

Apple iPadOS

Speaking of, the Files app gets a serious upgrade in iPadOS, with support for folder sharing in iCloud Drive for the first time. That means anyone with access to a shared folder will see it in iCloud Drive and will always have the ability to access the latest version. iPadOS also supports external drives – so you can plug in a USB drives, SD cards or log into an SMB file server within Files.

There's also a new Column View with high-resolution previews to help iPadOS users navigate directories and quickly see file sizes, picture resolutions, video file lengths, and more. In a macOS-esque move, this view also supports Quick Actions such as mark up, rotate and create PDF.

iPadOS also introduces local storage, zip and unzip, and 30 new keyboard shortcuts, including one for undo – so you don't have to shake the tablet like you're in a fit of rage to reverse an accidental delete anymore, which should save a good number of iPad owners from some shifty looks on the bus.

Apple will also improve copy and paste on iPadOS, so you can use a three-finger pinch to copy and a three-finger spread to paste text, photos, and more. That should dramatically speed up document editing.

Custom Fonts can be installed for use across iPadOS now from boutique and major vendors such as Adobe, DynaComware, Monotype, Morisawa and Founder. These will all be available within the App Store.

Apple iPadOS

Starting with iPadOS, Apple Pencil becomes even more integrated. iPad owners will be able to quickly annotate and send entire webpages, documents or emails by swiping Apple Pencil from the corner of the screen. A redesigned tool palette is included to offer access to tools, colour palettes, shapes, object eraser, and a new pixel eraser for removing any part of a stroke and a ruler. Apple Pencil latency has been dropped to 9 milliseconds thanks to some under-the-bonnet tweaks in iPadOS.

Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said: "iPad transforms how people work and express their creativity, and with iPadOS, we’re taking it even further by delivering exciting capabilities that take advantage of its large canvas and versatility.iPadOS delivers exciting features, including a new Home screen with widgets, more powerful multitasking and new tools that make using Apple Pencil even more natural."

iPadOS will be available as a free software upgrade for Apple iPad Air 2 and newer, all iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation and later, and iPad mini 4 and more recent.

Apple will roll-out iPadOS as a free upgrade starting from September 30, 2019. If Apple follows a similar launch schedule to previous years, it will begin around 10am in Cupertino, which around 1pm in New York, and 6pm in the UK. It can be difficult to download the new operating system the second it goes live as there is a huge surge of demand on Apple's servers.