iPadOS 15 is coming very soon – at least its initial beta will be. The third iPad-specific operating system is likely to get a preview this month, at WWDC 2021, prior to a full release later in the year. But what’s up Apple’s minimalist sleeves, and how does it plan to improve the experience of using its mighty tablets?
Apparently, the iPad (the best tablet there is) will get a huge home screen redesign, reportedly the most substantial to date for the slate. Also, notifications are going to get smarter (though that change will be across the iPhone and iPad).
The iPad finds itself at an interesting moment. The M1 chip in the iPad Pro 2021 makes it more powerful than ever, but also more similar to Apple’s MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. But at the same time, the iPad remains not quite as capable, as macOS still enables better multitasking.
Here’s how iPadOS 15 could address all that.
iPadOS 15 release date and beta info
The first iPadOS 15 beta will likely come out on June 7, at WWDC 2021. Of course, this will be a developer beta, which will be restricted to registered developers. The first public beta usually arrives soon thereafter – we’d expect it before the end of June.
Both iPadOS betas will get updates throughout the summer, giving developer beta updates the first chance to test new features before the public beta users get them. That is Apple’s way.
We expect the full iPadOS 15 release to come out in September, with its official date announced at the fall iPhone event Apple usually puts on.
This schedule would follow the format Apple’s used for years, including most recently when we got the first official look at iPadOS 14 at the WWDC 2020 keynote. There’s a giant gap between the reveal and release date because Apple uses this time for beta testing and to allow developers time to prepare apps for the new OS.
iPadOS 15 supported devices
iPadOS 15 is expected to support all the current iPads as iPadOS 14, per notes from WCCF Tech. But just like last year, we’re not as sure about the iPad mini 4 (from 2015) and iPad Air 2 (2014) maintaining support.
Here is the list of potential devices that will be able to run iPadOS 15:
iPadOS 15 rumored features
As with iOS 15 (Apple’s software update for phones), he big leaked news about iPadOS 15 is an upgraded home screen. Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, a reliable source on Apple rumors, cited “people with knowledge of the matter” when he wrote that Apple is “planning the most significant update to the device’s Home Screen” since the iPad’s 2010 debut.
Specifically, that will include the ability to put widgets we the home screen – so they don’t just live to the left of it. The iPhone got the ability to puts widgets anywhere on the home screen last year, in iOS 14, and its absence on the iPad has been puzzling. You’ll reportedly be able to replace the entire grid of apps on your iPad with widgets, if you want.
Apple always gives the iPad and iPhone some of the same new treats, and Gurman says that’s the case for iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 notifications. You’ll be able to change how notifications arrive, based on your “current status.” This sounds like Do Not Disturb mode turned all the way up to 11. Examples of statuses that change how you’re notified will include “driving, working, sleeping” and customized settings based on your preferences.
Now with WWDC 2021 less than a day away, Gurman has claimed that iPadOS 15 reportedly bringing a major notification and widget overhaul. That could finally fix some issues iPad users have been clamouring for, such as being able to place widgets anywhere on an iPad’s screen.
iPadOS 15 wish list
Let’s start with the obvious stuff. Last year’s iOS 14 update delivered the App Library view and emoji search tool to the iPhone, and it’s high time those features come to the iPad. iPadOS 15 feels like as good a time as any.
Also, since tablets can be shared among family members, it makes sense that Apple should give the option for multiple user profiles. Amazon and Samsung tablets have this feature, and Apple’s provided it for the education sector – so what’s the hold up on making this available across all iPads?
The bigger item on our wish list involves multitasking, something that the iPad has slowly gotten better at. You can currently see up to four apps at once: split view gives you two, slide over for a third and picture-in-picture for the fourth. But Apple can do better. Not by adding a fifth app, but by letting open applications work together in harmony.
The new iPad Pro is amazing, with more speed than you might know what to do with. So, we look at iPadOS 15 as the missing piece of the iPad story – as the piece of the puzzle that shows off how the iPad Pro (and other models) can utilize that power. You could argue that Apple should bring macOS to the iPad, especially now that the M1 chip is in the new iPad Pro. But I don’t think that’s what they want – and it would require a lot of work to change the overall look of macOS, to adjust the touch targets to be finger-tip friendly.
If iPadOS 15 improves multitasking in an important way – something I brought up in my iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review – we could see it truly rise as a productive machine. In particular, the iPad could truly sing from letting apps work with other. Think of the creators that Apple courts, and podcasters and streamers to be specific.
Recording an episode of a podcast or broadcasting your gameplay requires the apps used for those activities to work with other programs. This, of course, goes in direct violation with the sandboxing rules of the road found in Apple’s iOS and iPadOS. But think about it: if you use Voice Memos or some other app to record audio, why can’t Zoom, Skype or FaceTime capture said audio at the same time? Since this breaks the idea of sandboxed apps so greatly, it would probably need to be a feature that you unlock deep in settings. But it’s something that should be possible.
Apple also has work to do on its support for external displays. Now that there is ThunderBolt and USB 4 support in the USB-C port of the tablet increase its output abilities. The iPad should be able to extend its screen (not just mirror it) when connected to a monitor. There’s also the problem of the chunky black bars that appear on the left and right of your home screen.