Apple (AAPL) is supercharging the iPad with a new operating system called iPadOS. Unveiled at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California on Monday, iPadOS is designed to make the iPad feel more like a laptop replacement — and help differentiate it from the iPhone.
The new operating system will get all the features coming to iOS 13, but it will also receive a number of improvements specific to the iPad. You can, for instance, pin widgets directly to your home screen. There's a tighter home screen interface, so you can see more of your apps on the iPad's larger display.
You can also now run two windows in a single app. So if you want to open two different notes in Notes, you can. The feature also works with third-party apps, which means you can work in two Microsoft Word windows on-screen at the same time.
Apple has also added the ability of the iPad to read USB drives, so you can pull your files directly off of a storage device and access them from your iPad. Apple says you'll also be able to import files directly from your camera, as long as it works with USB.
On top of that, the Safari app for iPad will have access to desktop sites. That means instead of pulling up the mobile version of a website, you'll get the full desktop site, giving you greater flexibility from sites. Apple is also adding a download manager, so you can browse items you've recently downloaded via Safari.
The idea here is to help make the iPad stand out more from the iPhone, and give people who may not want to use the slate because they have a larger iPhone a reason to think twice. It also gives Apple a means to fight back against Microsoft's (MSFT) own Surface Pro, which functions as both a tablet and full Windows PC.
The update will likely make the iPad more functional overall. For workers, these changes could make the iPad more of a go-to, everyday device than it's ever been in the past.
We'll see if it helps push iPad sales, which have been growing with the release of the new iPros and iPad, even further when it rolls out later this year.
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Email Daniel Howley at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.