With the arrival of the M1 chip on the iPad Pro, many expected that the new version of the operating system could solve at least one part of the limitations that still separate the user experience on professional tablets from that of Macs.
Now that iPadOS 15 has been unveiled in preview at WWDC 2021, we can say that expectations were only partially met: the new version of the operating system for Apple tablets, which will officially arrive in the fall, is full of novelty, but it demonstrates that it is important for the company to keep the identities of computers and those of touch devices clearly separated.
Thus the iPads will gain many functions, but all always declined according to a defined and clear interaction paradigm, in which the tablet must be an open door to the content. So the side-by-side of multiple applications and multiple operations with multitasking it does not follow the metaphor of macOS or Windows windows, but rather the more direct and intuitive one of dividing the screen, with very few exceptions to the graphic layering of contents on different levels, with the new Central Window function. A choice that, if on the one hand it does not completely untie the iPad Pro, on the other it enriches the low-medium range iPads (which are the best sellers) and confirms the Cupertino philosophy: You can be productive on a device other than a computer without necessarily having to resort to traditional interaction models.
If iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad and Mac are molded on us
by Ernesto Assante
Custom Widgets and Home Screens
One of the metaphors that iPadOS 15 does not yield but concedes, is undoubtedly that of the desk: once again this year, as already done with the mouse support, Apple does not bring to the iPad a historical paradigm which, however, would actually be misplaced on a touch device. However, starting with iPadOS 15, users will be able to customize home screens and organize them based on content. In this way you will be able to have a screen dedicated to entertainment, one dedicated to work, one to music production, one to photo editing and so on. On these virtual “spaces” you can add specific apps (even several times, repeating one on several spaces) and above all new floating widgets that can show a preview of the contents and speed up interactions with the calendar, contacts, photos and so on. Street.
The rest of the apps can be confined to another hidden home screen, or they can all be kept in the App Library, a concept that debuted on iPhones with iOS. The App Library is an important tool, because it is functional to a device in which the power of instant search (a method used by many to quickly open apps) is more effective than visual access which is instead typical of a desktop full of folders and files.
However, one of the key issues related to this approach is the management of multitasking and the use of multiple applications at a time. The windows paradigm we are used to on computers is hard to beat in this respect. Works well on larger screens, but less so on smaller tablet displays – the iPad, as it said Jony Ive, ex capo del design Apple in the promotional video of the first model of 2010, it is a “magical” device, in which every time we open an app, the outline disappears and allows us to look at ever-changing contents.
It is important to remember that in the development of multitasking interfaces, Apple has always respected this concept, a true North Star of the iPad interaction model.
However, a step forward was needed which, without losing sight of this principle, would allow users to exploit the power of the latest generation devices, using more apps at a time. With iPadOS 15 there are important news, which finally try to make it less difficult to combine different programs and manage multiple interactions. Here they are listed below.
A new key to open the multitasking menu (3 dots at the top in each app): with a tap you can move the open app out of the active view to see the home screen below. From here you can carry out other operations, or open a new app that will join the one “put aside”.
A new Shelf, a sort of floating Dock that shows the various windows open for each individual application. In this way, you can have multiple documents open and navigable simultaneously on Pages, Keynote and other Apple apps, but also multiple different photos in Photoshop, multiple illustrations in a drawing app and so on, depending on the compatibility of the various apps.
A new multitasking management screen where you can create them App pairs in Split View simply by dragging the tile of one app onto another.
A new Central Window mode that overlays specific content on top of the two apps shown in Split View mode. Example: if we are importing images into Lightroom and we can’t close the window (because the operation does not work in the background) with iOS 15 you can open Mail in Split View with Lightroom and read your mail by opening the messages in a window superimposed on the two applications.
Notes and active corners
The Notes app will also be able to contravene the general interface paradigm, thanks to a new function that remembers the active corners of macOS: by dragging your finger or pencil from the corner bottom right, on iPads with the new operating system a window will appear where you can write and edit notes. The purpose is to make it easier to write notes while doing other tasks on the tablet. The most interesting aspect is the possibility not only to write in the note window, but also to drag and drop elements displayed on the screen, such as an image of a site or a link directly from the Safari address bar.
Always from the Notes you can tag other users using @, or use interactive hashtags in the text which will then serve to better organize the documents.
The Note update is especially interesting for who uses the iPad to study and will cover the application on all Apple devices, therefore also Mac and iPhone (where, however, there will be no Quick Notes, which remain the prerogative of the iPad).
The bottom right won’t be the only active corner of the iPad screen. With the same gesture from the left you can quickly generate a screenshot of the display, which you can then edit, send or save. One therefore wonders if, as on Mac, these two active corners can be customized in some way, perhaps by opening other applications instead of Notes and the snapshot of the screen. Currently, Hot Corners already exist on iPadOS 14, but can only be configured to enable accessibility features or to activate a Command app script: we will have to check with the first public beta in July if with iPadOS 15 they can instead be configured to open other apps in window mode or if this function will remain the prerogative of Notes only.
All the other news
From laughter more features coming soon with iPadOS 15 it is also worth mentioning:
The keyboard shortcuts extended, with which it is possible to activate all the functions of multitasking and many other system functions.
The ability to create and publish applications for iPhone and iPad directly on Swift Playground. It is still a limited function, but it is the first time that applications that can run on other devices can be compiled from Apple tablets.
The automatic translation that succeeds in recognize the spoken language and access to the system-wide translation widget (new also on iOS 15 for iPhone).
All the other new features of iOS 15 that they are not specific to iPhones, such as the offline processing of requests to Siri (part of the privacy updates), the new FaceTime interface with multiple calls and access links (which competes with Zoom), the Focus mode in addition to Do not disturb and how to activate personalized notifications.
The automatic text recognition in images thanks to machine learning.
Universal Control, which allows you to use the mouse and keyboard of a Mac on an iPad connected to the same account.
With iOS 15, Apple is putting its privacy advantage to good use
by Andrea Nepori
You can do more without being a computer
In short, iPadOS 15 is a weighty update, with which Apple brings to tablets productivity-oriented functions which will improve the user experience. Unfortunately, however, there is a clear desire not to make distinctions between the various market segments of the iPad family, a choice that somehow continues to limit the enormous potential of the Pro versions.
Here we are not talking, as already explained, about the need to adopt paradigms that do not work outside a Mac or a PC, but simply to equip the iPad Pro with the system features necessary to meet the needs of many professionals. Also on iPadOS 15 a multi-user mode will continue to be missing and therefore the devices will only support one profile at a time: someone suggests that it is a choice that makes the same family sell multiple iPads, but in reality an iMac that costs 1500 euros is perfectly capable of managing multiple users at a time. Why shouldn’t a 12.9 “iPad Pro that costs more than 3 thousand in the most powerful configuration?
We would also need a system “code” mechanism that allows apps to carry out tedious and time-consuming operations (such as exporting a movie in 4K or the aforementioned importing of photos to Lightroom) in the background, without necessarily remaining open. There are many ways to implement this type of functionality without compromising system security and leaving the user in control of queued operations. Also for this year, however, we will talk about it again next year.