If you’re an iPad user who always wished your tablet could do more, Apple has you in mind this year. At WWDC, the company just unveiled iPadOS 16, the annual update to the company’s iPad software. Naturally, many of the new iOS 16 features are coming here as well, including big updates to Mail, Safari, Messages and more. Oh, and 12 years after the first iPad was released, Apple is finally bringing the Weather app to iPadOS.
For the first time, iPadOS will allow you to have overlapping windows through a multitasking interface called Stage Manager that Apple is also bringing to the Mac this year. That said, some of these features will only be available on iPads with the M1 processor. When you use stage manager, you can resize windows, so you can easily tuck away other apps behind the main window. There’s also a view on the left side of the display that shows all your most recent apps. Based on the demo we saw during the keynote, windows dynamically resize and adjust their content view based on how big you make them. Some apps will update in the background, too, like chat apps — so if new messages come in while it’s not the main app in view, you’ll still be able to see updates depending on how you’ve placed your windows.
It’s very important to note, though that Stage Manager only works if you have an M1-powered iPad. So if you don’t have the iPad Air released last fall, or the 11- or 12.9-inch iPad Pro that was released in the Spring of 2021, you’re out of luck here.
The iPad also supports external displays for the first time, as well. Instead of just mirroring your iPad display, it fully extends your iPad experience to the second screen. You can have up to four distinct apps open on each screen at once, so an external display would let you have windows for eight different apps open at once. This is a massive change for iPadOS multitasking, something that people have requested for literally years now.
One big new feature is called Collaboration; when you share a document from an app like Pages, you can immediately make it sometime that everyone can work on simultaneously. Before, sharing would just send a copy, but now you can share a document through the Messages app and everyone you send it to can start editing it. You can also jump right into a FaceTime call directly from the document, as well. Naturally, this will work first with Apple apps, but Apple is releasing a third-party collaboration API as well. Other examples of Collaboration that Apple showed off is sharing a tab group from Safari, and it’ll work in Notes as well.
Another collaboration-related feature that Apple has just announced is called Freeform. You can jump into a board from a FaceTime group call and it basically creates a shared notes document that you can type, draw or paste other content into. This feature will be coming to iOS and macOS, as well.
Game Center will also get some SharePlay features, but they’re coming later this year. When they do come out, you’ll be able to play multi-player games while keeping a FaceTime call going, for example.
This comes a year after iPadOS 15 added some major new multitasking features that made it a lot easier to access different apps in the iPad’s traditional split-view setup. That update also included the handy Quick Notes feature, a controversial Safari rdesign that was eventually rolled back, major updates to the Home Screen experience through a new set of widgets and the expected handful of other smaller changes.
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