We’ve been saying it for years: the iPad is a phenomenally powerful and flexible piece of hardware held back by iPadOS. In 2019, Apple officially split iOS and iPadOS, signaling that tablet software would grow in its own direction, and we’ve been waiting for it to pay off ever since. With iPadOS 16, we’re taking the first really big step in that direction.
There are dozens of new features, big and small, but these are the four biggest things that could change the way you use your iPad. Remember, iPad gets many of the new features of iOS, such as SharePlay in Messages, Live Text updates, iCloud Shared Photo Library, and so on. These are the features of iPadOS that get us most excited.
iPad multitasking is quite a mess. There’s split view and slideover and resizable views (except when they aren’t) and you can’t see the dock unless you can… and it’s all enabled with gestures that causal users don’t seem to figure out.
iPadOS 16 won’t fix this mess, but it is is doing add a new mode that you Real multitasking on the iPad. It’s called Stage Manager and it’s only available on iPads with an M1 processor or newer (the latest iPad Air and iPad Pros).
You just drag up in the lower right corner of the screen to resize the current app to a floating window, with the dock and other recent apps displayed along the left edge. Apps can overlap, you can drag and drop between them, and you can even create groups of apps for your different tasks. This works with new full support for external displays, allowing you to run up to four apps on your iPad and four Lake apps on the external display.
Finally true multitasking power taking advantage of the M1 chip in the latest iPads!
Collaborative Document Editing
Nowadays when you share a document with the Share sheet with someone, you are really just sending them a copy. With iOS 16, you can choose between that or “Collaborate,” which sends a link through Messages to one or more people that allows editing of those documents between everyone in the Messages conversation. When you send a share from a Messages group in this way, everyone is automatically added and the Messages thread is updated whenever someone makes a change.
You can even start a FaceTime call with the entire collaboration group with just a few taps. This is going to work with most of Apple’s apps – Files, Keynote, Numbers, Pages, Notes, Reminders, and Safari for starters – and third-party developers can also use this feature with a new API.
This is also coming to iOS and macOS, but Apple emphasized it as an iPadOS feature, and for good reason: This kind of collaborative on-the-go productivity is the kind of thing tablets were made for.
The weather is coming to the iPad
We know it’s only one app, but we’ve been bugging Apple with this for years: The iPad has a Weather widget like the one on the iPhone, but it just opens a web page to a third-party weather site when you tap . am working on it. With iOS 16, the iPad And last but not least gets the Weather app, reconfigured for the larger screen.
But there is more than that. As predicted when Apple bought Dark Sky in 2020, it is creating a new WeatherKit framework that will allow them to add weather data to their own apps as well.
Where is Calculator now? Looks like we’ll have to wait for iOS 17 for that.
Free form collaboration app
Freeform is a new collaboration app that’s coming to iPadOS 16 “later this year,” meaning it probably won’t be there at the iPadOS 16 launch. But it’s pretty slick, and it speaks to the way Apple is starting to make the iPad. repositioning as a collaborative productivity device.
Real-time collaboration boards for ideas aren’t new, but Freeform is Apple’s take on the idea. It’s basically a big flexible canvas that lets you drop almost anything on it — PDFs, notes, images, audio, web links, and more — and see them all in preview. Then you can add notes or draw anywhere with Apple Pencil support. Live cursors show you where others are working, and you can pan and zoom to explore the whole space of ideas. It looks pretty slick and could really change the way we work on our iPads.