iPadOS 15 Improves Multitasking, Adds iPhone Features


Although an indispensable computing device for many, the iPad has long irritated users with features that either did not perform as well as they should or were conspicuously absent. The main problem has been multitasking. Slide Over and Split View are deeply unintuitive and awkward to use.

Additionally, last year’s Global Developer Conference infuriated many iPad users when iPadOS 14 failed to get some of the flagship features of iOS 14. The most notable omissions were the app library. and the ability to place widgets on any home screen page instead of sequestering them. in the sidebar.

In its opening remarks for WWDC 2021, Apple made amends. In iPadOS 15, multitasking will receive an important update. And the iPad has finally acquired these iOS 14 features, with some iPad-specific tweaks. In addition, the Notes application has received new features.

Multitasking finally becomes detectable

Managing multiple windows on an iPad seems to be a lot easier. Apple has added multitasking controls at the top of the screen that let you view any app in full screen, or in Split View or Slide Over mode, with a single tap.

If you tap Split View, iPadOS temporarily puts the app aside so you can choose a second app from anywhere (including the Dock) to complete the split screen. This also happens if you swipe down at the top of an app to replace it in Split View.

Split View in iPadOS 15 also introduces the ability to open a third window, such as a Mail message when that app is displayed, centered and floating. If you want to put this window in Slide Over or Split View, the aforementioned multitasking commands prompt you.

Single window in Split View

You can, instead, minimize this floating window, which drops it into a new UI element called Shelf that floats at the bottom of the screen like an application-specific Dock. The shelf is where you’ll find multiple Safari or Pages windows open, for example, so you can switch between them. Use a finger swipe to pry a window off the shelf.

IPad shelf

The Switcher App provides more multitasking mojo. With the windows displayed in this view, you can drag over each other to create a Split View group.

We’ll have to see how easy it is to use all of these new features, but just providing visible multitasking controls should go a long way to helping users get more out of it than they currently do.

Widgets and application library

There is not much to say here. IPad users can now place their widgets anywhere, like on the iPhone, by opening the widget gallery and dragging a widget to any home screen page.

iPadOS 15 provides a new, larger widget format that only makes sense on the larger iPad screen. Apps that support this larger widget format include Apple TV, Files, Game Center, and Photos. Third-party apps will no doubt benefit soon.

Widgets in iPadOS 15

The App Library works as expected, with one iPad-specific improvement: You can access the App Library by tapping an App Library icon on the right edge of the Dock.

Like on iPhone, you can add apps to a home screen page from the app library, remove an app from a page so it’s only in the app library , and rearrange or hide home screen pages. See “iOS 14 Application Library: The FAQ” (September 9, 2020), “Five Tips for Easier Reorganization of iOS Applications” (September 22, 2020) and “Manage Home Screen Apps Bulk iPhone with iOS 14 Application Library (April 19) 2021).

IPad-specific features in Notes

Apple has tried to make the ubiquitous Notes app perform better with new organizational features, some of which are inspired by social media. Most of them are spread across Apple’s operating systems, but Quick Note seems designed for the iPad.

Quick Note lets you create a note without having to open the Notes application. Instead, swipe up diagonally from the lower right corner of the iPad with your finger or Apple Pencil to create a note. To ignore the note, drag in the opposite direction.

Quick Note in iPadOS 15

Quick Note knows which app you have on the screen. If you create a note when a Safari page is displayed, for example, the note will contain the URL of that page. Tap the URL and the site is embedded in the note with an image. Visit this URL later and the corresponding note appears again in the lower right corner.

You can also highlight text on a Safari page, and a link to that text is created in the note so you can refer to that location on the page later. You can create Quick Note links to third-party applications, such as restaurant listings in Yelp.

To scroll through previously created quick notes, swipe left or right on a displayed note to see the others. Or just open Notes to see your Quick Notes collected there.

In addition to Quick Notes, Apple has added a few organizational features:

  • Key words: Like in other apps and social services, tags (such as #julio) allow you to organize your notes. For navigation, Apple has added a beacon browser.
  • @Mentions: When you @mention someone in a note with a social media type symbol (like @julio), that person receives a notification with a link to that note.
  • Activity view: This view shows you what has changed in a note shared while you were away.

The result

With iPadOS, Apple hasn’t made any revolutionary changes to the iPad, but some of them will inspire the hosannas of users long frustrated with opaque interfaces and missing features. Multitasking improvements will go a long way in making the tablet more intuitive and less frustrating. Many iPad users will be happy to be able to place widgets anywhere they want. The app library isn’t nearly as sexy, but neatniks will love the way it lets them clean up their homescreens and hide apps that aren’t used much. Improvements to Notes are unlikely to attract conversions from other note-taking apps, but will be welcomed by dedicated Notes users.

In short, Monday was a good day for iPad users, although the changes largely responded to past limitations.


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