Apple previewed iPadOS 15 today at its virtual keynote for Worldwide Developer Conference. The operating system update revamps the multitasking experience, adds “SharePlay,” and more.
Multitasking and keyboard shortcuts
Apple says the new multitasking experience is even more intuitive. A new multitasking menu appears at the top of apps, letting users go into Split View or Slide Over with just a tap. Users now have quick access to the Home Screen when using Split View. Apple says this makes it easier to get to the right app. Using the new “shelf,” they can also multitask with apps that have multiple windows like Safari and Pages, as well as quickly preview emails.
Using an external keyboard, users can access new keyboard shortcuts and a redesign of the menu bar. Users can set up and switch between Split View and Slide Over with new shortcuts for multitasking right from the keyboard.
Widgets and the App Library
Users can now place widgets among apps on Home Screen pages. This provides more information at a glance and offers a more personalized experience. A new, larger widget size is designed specifically for the larger display of iPad. iPadOS 15 also brings all-new widgets for App Store, Find My, Game Center, Mail, and Contacts.
Also coming to iPad is the App Library. It automatically organizes apps into categories like Productivity, Games, and Recently Added. Plus, the Apple Library allows users to access all their apps right from the Dock.
Quick Note and organizing with tags
The Notes app goes systemwide with Quick Note, a way to take notes anywhere across the system. Users can bring up Quick Note anywhere to jot down a thought and add links.
Notes also has new ways to organize, collaborate, and capture information. Tags are designed to make it easy to categorize notes and find them quickly with an all-new Tag Browser and tag-based Smart Folders. For users working with others in shared notes, “mentions” create a way to notify collaborators and link them back to the note. A new Activity view shows recent updates in the note.
FaceTime enhancement and SharePlay
Apple says that FaceTime in iPadOS 15 makes conversations feel even more natural. Users can now share experiences with SharePlay while connecting with friends on FaceTime. This includes listening to songs together with Apple Music, watching a TV show or movie in sync, or sharing their screen to view apps together.
Shared playback controls let anyone play, pause, or jump ahead. Users can extend playback to Apple TV. They can watch it on their TV while sharing the moment with others connected over FaceTime. SharePlay also lets users share their screen.
Safari gets redesigned with a new tab design, more
iPadOS 15’s Safari gets a new tab design that lets users see more of the page as they browse. A new tab bar takes on the color of the webpage and combines tabs, the toolbar, and the search field into a single, compact design.
Tab Groups offer a new way to save and manage tabs. Apple says they’re great for planning trips, shopping, or storing frequently visited tabs. Tab Groups also sync across Macs and and iPhones, so users can share them with friends and family. Safari on iPad also now supports web extensions, available from the App Store.
Tools to find focus and reduce distractions
iPadOS 15 delivers tools built to help users focus and reduce distractions. Focus is a new feature that filters notifications based on what a user is doing. Users can set their device to help them be in the moment by creating a custom Focus. Or they can select a suggested one based on their context, like during their work hours. Users can also create Home Screen pages with apps and widgets that apply to moments of focus to only display relevant apps.
A new notification summary offers an organized collection of notifications. They can be delivered any time the user chooses, such as in the morning and evening.
New Photo features
The new Live Text feature uses on-device intelligence to recognize text in a photo and allow users to take a variety of actions. For example, a snapshot of a storefront may reveal a phone number and the option to place a call. With Visual Look Up, users can identify objects within a photo, such as a type of flower or dog breed.
Spotlight gets the ability to search the Photos app and web images. It also has new rich results for contacts with context like recent conversations, shared photos, and their location if shared through Find My. Leveraging Live Text, Spotlight allows you to look up a photo of a public transit map, receipt, or a screenshot of a cooking recipe. Live Text also works with handwritten text. This is handy for searching photos of whiteboards or notes.
Translate comes to the iPad
The Translate app comes to iPad with new features that make conversations easier and more natural. When using it, Auto Translate detects when someone is speaking, and in which language. Apple says this means users can converse naturally without having to tap a microphone button.
The face-to-face view allows two people to sit across from each other with an iPad between them and see translations of the conversation from their own side. Text can now be translated anywhere on iPad by selecting it and tapping Translate. What’s more, handwritten text can also be translated. In combination with Live Text, users can even translate text in photos.
Swift Playgrounds gets enhancements
Swift Playgrounds 4 allows users have the tools to build iPhone and iPad apps right on their iPad and submit them directly to the App Store. Code is immediately reflected in the live preview while building apps, and users can run their apps full screen to test them out.
A new open project format based on Swift packages can open and be edited in Swift Playgrounds for iPad as well as within Xcode on Mac.
Additional iPadOS 15 features
According to Apple, other iPadOS features include:
- Universal Control lets users work with a single mouse and keyboard to move between iPad and Mac. Users can even drag and drop content back and forth between devices. The Shared with You feature works across the system to find the articles, music, TV shows, photos, and more that are shared in Messages conversations, and conveniently surfaces them in apps like Photos, Safari, Apple News, Music, Podcasts, and the Apple TV app.
- Photos includes the biggest update ever to Memories, with a fresh, new look; an immersive, interactive interface; and integration with Apple Music, which uses on-device intelligence to personalize song suggestions that bring memories to life.
- Maps offers enhanced details in cities for neighborhoods, commercial districts, elevation, and buildings, new road colors and labels, custom-designed landmarks, and a new night-time mode with a moonlit glow.
- Mail Privacy Protection helps stop trackers from snooping on an email. An App Privacy Report provides transparency into how apps are sharing information with other companies.
- Now, with on-device speech recognition, audio of Siri requests is processed entirely on the iPad by default. Siri also adds Announce Notifications on AirPods; this is the ability for users to share what’s on their screen just by asking, and more.
- iCloud+ combines the usual iCloud features with new premium features, including Hide My Email, expanded HomeKit Secure Video support, and an innovative new internet privacy service, iCloud Private Relay, at no additional cost. Current iCloud subscribers will be upgraded to iCloud+ automatically this fall. All iCloud+ plans can be shared with people in the same Family Sharing group.
- There are new accessibility features. The VoiceOver screen reader now uses on-device intelligence to explore objects within images. This enables users to discover more details about the people, text, table data, and other objects within images. Support for third-party eye-tracking hardware enables users to control iPad using only their eyes.
- Background sounds play continuously and mix into or duck under other audio and system sounds to mask unwanted environmental or external noise, and help users focus, stay calm, or rest. Sound Actions lets users customize Switch Control to work with mouth sounds. Users can now customize display and text size on an app-by-app basis.
The developer preview of iPadOS 15 is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting today, and a public beta will be available to iPadOS users next month at beta.apple.com.
New software features will be available this fall as a free software update for iPad mini 4 and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad 5th generation and later, and all iPad Pro models. For more information, visit apple.com/ipados/ipados-preview.