Later in the year, iPad users will be able to download iPadOS 15, the 2021 operating system update, and thanks to Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote speech we’re finally getting to find out all about the upcoming update.
A sister update to iOS 15, the new iPadOS has lots of the features of that iPhone operating system, but with a few extras that make the most of the tablet form factor.
It sounds like iPadOS 15 isn’t a huge update for Apple tablets, simply improving iPadOS 14 features (and adding some that were curiously absent from 2020’s update despite already being on iPhone), but some people might like one or two of the changes.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The third version of iPadOS, an operating system for iPads
- When is it out? ‘Fall’ – presumably September or October
- How much will it cost? Nothing
iPadOS 15 release date
Apple confirmed iPadOS 15 will be rolling out to compatible iPads in ‘Fall’ – that’s presumably September or October, when we’d expect the new iPad 10.2 to launch.
Before that, a public beta will launch in July, whereas a developer beta is already live, but obviously unless you’re an app developer you can’t test that.
iPadOS compatible iPads
Apple confirmed iPadOS 15 will come to ‘iPad mini 4 and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad 5th generation and later, and all iPad Pro models’. So what does that mean? Well, all the iPads listed below:
iPadOS 15 features
Lots of the new iPadOS 15 features are actually features of iPadOS 14 that have received a rebrand, or improvements from 2020’s version. Below we’ve highlighted the key changes.
Widgets were added in iOS 14, but they were locked to the home screen in a panel on the left… for some reason. That wasn’t the case for iPhones, and it made the iPad widgets hard to use.
That’s changed in iPadOS 15, so you can put widgets wherever you want. There are also widgets for more apps than before, and they now come in different sizes than they did before.
Two examples shown were a Photos app that shows you snippets of the pictures you’ve taken, and a Files widget that’s pretty big, so you can see lots of files at once.
iPadOS 15 App Library
An iOS 14 feature that we’re finally getting on iPadOS is the App Library, which is a menu where you can list all your apps on a separate screen, much like the app drawer on Android.
It also sorts your apps into categories, so this is a good way to keep all your tools organized if you’re a disorganized person, and file your apps by their function or frequency of use.
On iPhones you have to swipe to the end of your home screens to get to the app library, but on iPads you can also bring the thing up easily from any page.
iPadOS 15 multitasking
Another ‘new’ feature that isn’t actually new is multitasking, so you can dual-screen apps and keep them off to the side if you’re not using them.
It’s not clear how this is different from the current split-screening feature, as the ‘shelf’ or list of apps to swap between when you’re multitasking already exists in prior iPadOS builds.
The way to enable split-screen is different though, as instead of dragging or dropping apps around, a separate dock at the top of the screen lets you do these functions with a tap.
iPadOS 15 Notes app
The iOS ‘Notes’ app has turned into Google Docs, by the sounds of it. You can tag people into documents, see a revision history and more.
One other new improvement is the ability to easily bring up the Notes app by swiping up on the screen with the Apple Pencil, giving you a way to easily sketch a note or write down an idea.
You can use this while another app is on the main screen, and then copy some data from the app that’s open, like the URL of a website.
iPadOS 15 new apps
iPhones have access to Apple’s Translate app, which is basically like Google translate but made by Apple.
This app is now coming to iPadOS, so you can convert text between languages. You can also translate things in other apps, like emails in foreign languages for example.
Swift Playground, another Apple app, is coming to iPads too. This is a way to learn coding and even design your own app, which sounds interesting, though it obviously isn’t for everyone. This should be super useful for budding app designers.