IPadOS 15 Practice Review: What Works and What Doesn’t

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The Quick Notes feature implemented on iPadOS 15

Jason Perlow / ZDNet

Apple released the first public beta of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 on Wednesday for anyone to test out the next software update that will power millions of iPhones and iPads. You can sign up for the public beta if you’re ready to deal with frequent updates, bugs, and low battery life.

Apple first announced the new operating systems in early June during WWDC 2021, and also released them as developer beta. I’ve been using the developer beta since they first came to my iPhone and iPad. There are a lot of changes to the two operating systems to write a book on – but, for now, I want to start with my first impressions of the iPadOS 15 beta, in particular.

As you go through the areas of the update that I like and what I think requires a bit of work, keep in mind that iPadOS 15 is still a beta. Apple can and will make a lot of changes ahead of its official release this fall – and that’s a good thing.

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Apple

Multitasking

Multitasking, or using multiple apps at the same time, has been possible on the iPad since the release of iOS 9 in 2015. If you knew that, you’ve often had trouble remembering features like Split View (using two apps side by side -side) or Slide Over (using an app that hovers over open apps on your screen) even existed. It was not clear how you moved an app from Slide Over to Split View or vice versa.

With iPadOS 15, Apple added a small button that sits above each app window. Tap or click on it, and you have a few different options for that particular window. The multitasking control button will allow you to move an app to Slide Over, Split View or Full Screen without any hassle or additional gestures.

If you already have an app open in full screen and you tap or click the multitasking button and select Split Screen, the app window will move to the right side of the screen, allowing you to choose a second app to use from your Home screen or Application library. Select a compatible app and a second later both apps will be open and ready to use.

Another frustration I had with iPadOS and multitasking before iPadOS 15 was that you never knew exactly which text field in the app was active, and I would always start typing in the wrong window. Luckily, I never messaged the wrong person or anything embarrassing that could happen.

But, with iPadOS 15, that multitasking button so critical? It also indicates which app is active and will receive any text input. It seems, at least early in the beta process, that Apple fixed multitasking by making it easier for users to find, learn, and use. For me, personally, I know all the gestures and methods to use multiple apps at the same time, but now instead of sometimes having to take a second or two to think about what I want to do with an app, I can click the multitasking button, click on where I want the app to go, and it’s done.

Well done, Apple.

Quick note

Quick Note is a new feature that I’m always trying to learn, but it’s a feature that I can see fit into my daily workflow. When opened – either by pressing Globe + Q, swiping up from the lower right corner of the screen with an Apple Pencil, or through the Control Center – a small window appears on the iPad screen. This window is connected to the Notes app, but it doesn’t just serve as a small text box to jot down your thoughts.

Yes, you can use it for quick notes, but you can also use it to save links to websites, emails, messages, or even photos with just the click or press of a button. When you want it to be out of the way, you can drag it to either side of the screen and then drag it back again when you want to add more information.

I consider it more of a smart sticky note. This allows me to keep random ideas and thoughts in one place, but it will also allow me to relate to what inspired each idea, providing context.

Every item is saved in the Notes app for quick access and search in the future.

Home screen improvements

When Apple released iOS 14 with home screen widgets and an app drawer called the App Library, everyone, including yours, assumed the iPad was getting the same treatment as well. This was not the case. Instead, we had to wait for iPadOS 15 for the iPad line to get the same features, including a new, larger-sized widget. Being able to place widgets anywhere on the Home screen and limiting the number of Home screens littered with single-use apps makes the iPad much more like a more modern operating system than the iPad. rigid grid of apps and folders from the iPadOS past.

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Apple

The new Safari looks fantastic, but brings back a few buttons

I’m all for minimal design, which is exactly what Apple is doing with the new version of Safari in iPadOS 15. I’m probably in the minority that after a few weeks of testing, the new design is something I want to see. love a lot of.

But there is a big problem with that. The update to Safari on the iPad mirrors that of Safari in MacOS Monterey and somewhat iOS 15, where nearly all of the standard buttons and controls that users can easily access in iOS 14 and earlier have been moved to one. small menu button. The refresh button? Faded away. You can swipe down on a web page to refresh it or press the menu button and then select Refresh. The same goes for the share button, if you want to send a webpage to a friend in your favorite messaging app.

In the second developer beta, Apple added a refresh button that appears when you use a mouse or trackpad and hover the pointer over the address bar.

Hopefully, as the beta progresses and we get closer to the final version this fall, Apple finds a happy medium of minimalism and usability. Too many features are now hidden behind the menu button, and it doesn’t improve on the iPhone.

Keyboard shortcuts in Safari are … confusing

Speaking of Safari, the new keyboard shortcuts are confusing. Fortunately, this is only a bug as Apple works by mapping multitasking keyboard shortcuts to the Globe key on the iPad. (If you have a Magic Trackpad and you’re on iPadOS 15, press and hold the Globe key to bring up a list of all navigation shortcuts. There are plenty of them.)

For example, I used to hold Command + Shift + an arrow key to jump to the start or end of a line of text and highlight it at the same time. Now this keyboard shortcut seems to have a random function depending on the site I am using. For example, when editing in Google Docs, it works as usual. However, when I’m on almost any other website, it jumps up one page or switches between open tabs. The first option is not ideal and cost me a lot of work.

The same goes for Command + S, which prompted a website I write frequently to save my work, now prompts me to download a copy of the webpage I’m currently viewing.

Maybe this is something that website developers need to implement on their end? If so, hopefully Apple will communicate the change so that people like me who work on the iPad a lot don’t have to relearn years of muscle memory – memory that works in apps. standard like iA Writer – now.

If you’ve used the Developer Beta or taken the plunge into the Public Beta, I’d love to hear what you think about it. Let me know in the comments below.


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