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iPadOS 15 features widgets on the home screen and better multitasking

·Deputy Managing Editor
·3-min read

Apple just announced a boatload of new features in iOS 15, and most of those are coming to the iPad vis iPadOS 15, as well. Naturally, there are some new features specifically coming to the iPad, as well. First off is a redesigned home screen that now supports widgets, just like iOS 14 did on the iPhone. Now, you can place widgets anywhere on the home screen you want; previously, they were stuck in a column on the left side of the home page. There are new designs for widgets that take advantage of the larger screen, and the App Library (that also launched on the iPhone last year) is coming to the iPad as well. The App Library is a central location for every app on your iPad, which means you can customize your home screens by hiding apps you don't use as often. Ultimately, it sounds like the iPhone and iPad home screen experiences are now essentially identical, which is definitely a good thing.

There are also some new multitasking tools that can be selected from the top of the iPad's screen. From here, you can select if you want to go into single app, Split View or Slideover multitasking. When you pick a mode, you'll get a view of your home screen to easily pick the app that you want to add to your view. Previously, you had to use the iPadOS dock to do this, which made new multitasking views with apps that weren't in your dock rather tricky. When you're in split view, you can swipe down from either side of the screen to go to the home page and select a new app for that space, as well. 

You can also swipe up from the bottom to see a new "shelf" that shows all the windows of a specific app that you have open; you can close them or add new windows from that view. And in the app switcher, which shows previews of every app you have open, you can drag and drop apps together to create a new Split View setup, as well. There are also new keyboard shortcuts to manage your multitasking experience, as well.

iPadOS 15
iPadOS 15

Notes is getting a significant update: shared notes. You can now @ message someone to bring them into the note, use hashtags to organize your thoughts, and see all activity on shared notes through a new activity viewer. There's also a new tool called Quick Note; swiping from the corner of the screen with the Apple Pencil brings up a new note that you can type or write into. 

Safari is also undergoing major changes this year, across all of Apple's platforms. There's a new, minimal UI bar that puts tabs and the browser URL bar on the same row, saving some space. You can set up new tab groups, a feature that Google added to Chrome last year, and for the first time Safari on the iPad will support the same web extensions you can use on the Mac.

Developers will be happy to learn that the iPad can fully code apps for the iPhone and iPad using Swift Playgrounds app, as well. This actually marks the first time that you've been able to use an iPad to develop apps for an iPad. There's no word yet on when iPadOS 15 will arrive, but it should be here in September if history is any guide.

Apple first announced iPadOS at WWDC in 2019, a move to show that the iPad‘s software was worthy of being separate and distinct from iOS for phones. Historically, Apple has provided major updates to the iPad software experience every two years or so; while iPadOS 13 in 2019 provided some major, long-overdue UI and feature updates, last year’s iPadOS 14 mostly featured the same updates to core apps like Safari, Notes and Messages that were announced for iOS 14. 

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