Technophile

Top changes in iPadOS 15 to boost your productivity

Kishore Bhargava | Updated on July 14, 2021

Despite a major work-over, when you use iPadOS 15 there is sense of familiarity.

The summer of change is upon us and there are OS updates all around, Android 12, Windows 11 and iPadOS 15, all within weeks of each other.

The challenge with OS updates is no matter what the software makers do, the users will crib. If the changes are drastic and big, they will make noise about how they need to relearn and how years of muscle memory needs to be retrained. If the changes are subtle then of course the stance is that it’s just a fresh coat of paint and nothing else. Either way you can’t win.

Apple has always been blamed for making evolutionary changes: nothing big, nothing revolutionary, just subtle changes. But what one doesn’t realise is that these subtle changes, when done slowly and surely, truly change the way things worked. Between iOS and iPadOS there are over 300 changes and it will take weeks for users to discover all of them, by which time there will be a new OS.

 

Multi-tasking

Despite a major work-over, when you use iPadOS 15 there is sense of familiarity. At the same time it is different — for the better. Take for example the multitasking feature of the iPad. While many had pinned their hopes on a drastic change, it did not happen. However, what has been implemented will certainly get people to start using the feature more.

A subtle three dots now appear at the top of an open app, when you tap on it, you see options for fullscreen, side-by-side and slide-over. This was earlier handled by gestures and most people forgot which way they were to swipe for which option. Very confusing it used to be. Now it is a very smooth experience.

The app switcher also gets some tweaks: when you are looking at all open apps, you can drag one onto another and it creates a split app view for you instantly. Slide-over apps, which were ignored, are now also on display in the app switcher view and any app can now be moved to the slide-over stack as well. This change alone will surely push adoption of this feature.

Is that true multitasking? Definitely not. That’s for a laptop. Consider this: why would Apple give you a tablet to replace your laptop? They want you to have both. True the new iPad is more powerful than many laptops, but surely that is being reserved for some funky stuff coming in the near future like augmented reality.

Just a tap away

While widgets came to iOS earlier, they are finally here on the iPad. I actually have my iPad home screen setup only with widgets and the dock. I have a weather, world clock, Outlook calendar, and an intelligent widget suggestions widget. The dock has my most commonly used apps and between that and the intelligent suggestions, every app is just a tap away. I also find that with usage the suggestions are bang on, it knows when I want music or when I want my podcasts and it changes based on time off day and location very smartly. Add to that the app library which also sits on the dock and my iPad is now a single page home screen. The app library pops up with a very slick animation as well.

 

A focus on focus

Next up is Focus. This is one of my favourite features on iPadOS and it is the same on iOS as well. It is basically “do not disturb” on steroids. You start with an overall do not disturb mode which is much the same as in the past, but you now also have additional modes for fitness, sleep, personal and work. And it doesn’t stop there, each of them can be customised. You choose what apps are allowed to break through, which of your contacts are allowed, whether you want time sensitive notifications allowed or not and best of all you can even customise your home and lock screens. Almost like having multiple profiles for yourself for different activities.

And now remember Notes? That simple app which allows you to take simple notes. Not a very commonly used app, but over the years it has become better with each iteration. It now has text formatting features like a word-processor, lets you make tables, you can add photos from an iPhone or iPad directly from the camera and much more.

Notes can now be shared, locked, have tags for faster searching and on the iPad a new shortcut gesture to launch a “quick” note. Swiping up from the right corner of the iPad with your finger or an Apple Pencil, brings up a note which sits on top of your current app, you can drag and drop items from the other app onto the note, you can also add the URL from the page browsing and any time you open the quick note it will show it in context of the website, very clever indeed. Quick Notes are saved in a separate category of their own and will sync with all devices as expected

 

Voice isolation

India isn’t a FaceTime country. We mostly use WhatsApp for private messages and calls, including group calls and for business it is usually Zoom and Teams. However, the new features in FaceTime, make it a very compelling option. Lots of minor changes and tweaks, the interface looks much better and many features have been added including voice isolation and portrait mode. I did a test call with music playing in the background and when I turned on voice isolation the other side could no longer hear the music, just my voice. FaceTime also introduces screen sharing and SharePlay. While screen sharing will be great for remote support, SharePlay will now allow you to watch the same movie or listen to same music with a group of friends complete with full synchronisation and control.

Finally, a few feature that I am looking forward to test which is not yet available in the Public Beta —

Universal Control. Imagine, just bring your iPad close enough to your MacBook and drag the mouse over from the edge of the screen onto the other device, truly feels like magic. Keyboard and mouse controls will work as well and the really fascinating part is that it requires no setup.

Published on July 14, 2021

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