One of the benefits to the Mincey Plantations rather extensive collection of Apple products is the ability to load up something new and beta on a machine without worry of killing important information or wiping out valuable applications.
Over the course of the past decade or so I’ve been able to download and try out various new macOS versions, a couple of iOS versions for iPhone and iPad, and this year, thanks to a friend’s developer certificate, the new iPadOS.
Sure, you’ve used iOS on iPad before and all it did was turn the device into a big iPhone without the phone. This year is different. By segregating iOS from iPadOS, Apple gave the larger device some room to grow and this will take iPad into a different realm.
The Mac-like realm.
What iPadOS brings to the table are a list of items we Mac customers who use iPads have clamored about for a few years. Improved file management in the Files app, better external hardware integration, more multi-tasking, and two areas that lit my hair on fire.
Mouse support (and trackpad) and more keyboard shortcuts.
It’s just a matter of time before some hardware maker somewhere introduces an iPad keyboard for iPadOS that sports a trackpad, too. To be fair, iPadOS does not turn an iPad into a Mac, but, instead, in just the right places, you get a more Mac-like experience and that improves workflow.
For example, Apple is not making a big deal of mouse support. You have to find it in Accessibility and turn it on and even then it’s not exactly the same as a Mac. But it’s close, and helps to reduce the fingertip, hand, wrist, arm, elbow, and shoulder routine required to move hands off the keyboard just to navigate the screen.
Apple included more than two dozen new keyboard shortcuts, and while that does not turn the iPad into a Mac, you still get a more Mac-like experience– provided you’re already something of a Mac power user and know that hands on the keyboard are more productive than a mouse or waving a finger at the screen.
No, iPadOS does not bring app window resizing common to the Mac, but you do get multiple apps on the same display, multiple apps on Slide Over, and multiple windows from the same app.
One of my absolute favorite Mac Finder features is Column View. To use it is to know how powerful it is, and Apple brings it to iPadOS. You can even use it to inspect details from files. Think File Info. iPadOS also brings in some standard tools to Files– annotate images, convert to PDFs, crop images, rotate video, and more.
How is all that not Mac-like?
Files on iPadOS also has another Mac-like characteristic. Plug in an external disk drive or jump drive and it shows up in the Files sidebar. Mac-like, now? What I would like to see and Apple says it’s coming is the option to connect Files to external servers via SMB, but that’s a minor nit for most of us.
Hey, did I forget to mention Zip files?
Uh huh. iPadOS can handle zip archives kinda sorta mostly like Zip on the Mac via the new context menu. And, if you want, you can use the Mac’s famous Save To… via the Save To Files extension which lets you rename files and change folder destinations.
In some future review I’ll rummage around Safari’s new desktop-class website pages, but you’ll like using Google Docs, and Dropbox in ways you could not before.
Clearly, Apple is moving the iPad into its own realm and though it is Mac-like in nature, what we may be seeing is the future of personal computing. Apple sells more than double the number of iPads each yeas as it does Macs, and that won’t change.
$329 and a decent keyboard and mouse and you come away with a very Mac-like experience for hundreds less than a Mac.