Apple iPadOS: A cheat sheet


Apple’s OS for iPad includes several features that make it easier to use the iPad as a laptop replacement. Here’s what you need to know about iPadOS.

Since the launch of the first-generation iPad in 2010, Apple has dominated the tablet market. Originally launching with iPhone OS 3.2, the first-generation 9.7″ iPad was architecturally akin to a large iPhone. With successive models, Apple has differentiated the iPad from the iPhone by adding support for input methods such as the Apple Pencil, and different screen sizes, such as the 7.9″ iPad Mini, and the 11″, and 12.9″ iPad Pro.

As the iPad lineup has expanded into a wholly separate product category, Apple announced at its 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that it has rebranded iOS for iPad as “iPadOS” (starting with iOS 13) to highlight and target the features that differentiate the iPad from other devices. This follows Apple’s naming trend of watchOS for Apple Watch, and tvOS for Apple TV.

TechRepublic’s cheat sheet for iPadOS is a quick overview to how iPadOS differs from iOS, as well as a “living” guide that will be updated periodically as new information becomes available. It is also available as a download, Apple iPadOS: A cheat sheet (free PDF).

SEE: Mobile device security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

What is iPadOS?

For the release of iOS 13, Apple is rebranding the variant of iOS for the iPad as iPadOS, effectively making it a superset of the phone-oriented iOS. iPadOS inherits all of the improvements coming to iOS 13, and includes new features and optimizations specific to the iPad.

“It’s become a truly distinct experience,” Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, told CNET in an exclusive interview about iPadOS. “It’s not an iPhone experience. It’s not a Mac experience. The name is a recognition of that.”

Additional resources

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides

How is iPadOS different from iOS?

iPadOS brings the iPad closer to feature parity with the entry-level MacBook, making it more possible to use as a laptop replacement.

iPadOS includes the following features:

  1. Tablet-oriented home screen — The iPadOS home screen now supports persistent widgets, similar to widgets on Android tablets since Android 3.0 (Honeycomb).

  2. Improved multitasking — Users can move between Slide Over apps by swiping along the bottom, or swiping up to see all the apps in the Slide Over view. Slide Over apps can be moved to full screen by dragging them to the top, or closed by opening to the app switcher and flicking the app upward.

  3. Desktop Safari — Safari now loads the desktop version of web pages, optimized for touchscreens, as well as better support for Google Docs and WordPress editor. Some 30 new keyboard shortcuts were added to Safari.

  4. External drive support — USB drives and SD cards are now supported in Files, making it possible to plug in to an iPad directly without needing third-party program or an intermediary Mac for file management.

  5. Improvements to Files app — Files adds a column view similar to Finder on Mac OS, as well as support for SMB shares.

  6. Camera support — Cameras can be connected directly to the iPad, and photos can be imported for editing on iPad apps, such as Adobe Lightroom.

  7. Font support — Fonts can be downloaded from the App Store, for use in various apps.

  8. New gestures for faster editing — Copy, paste, and undo can now be performed using three-finger gestures, with three-finger pinch to copy, three-finger spread to paste, and three-finger swipe to undo, available for first-party and third-party apps.

  9. Apple Pencil improvements — Swiping from the corner of the screen with Apple Pencil opens the markup view, allowing users to annotate anything on the screen, and export it. Latency for Apple Pencil was decreased from 20ms to 9ms.

  10. Sidecar — Users can extend their Mac OS desktop onto the iPad as a second display, or mirror content between both displays. When used in conjunction with the Apple Pencil, Sidecar can make the iPad usable as a drawing tablet. Sidecar works via a wired connection, or wirelessly within 10 meters.

  11. Trackpad support — There is support for Apple’s Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2, as well as third-party accessories connected over Bluetooth or USB. According to ZDNet’s Jason Cipriani, “mouse support is an AssistiveTouch feature and also works when a Magic Trackpad is connected to the iPad,” and that it provides “a circular cursor that moves across the screen, acting as a finger would when touching the screen. It’s unclear how multi-touch gestures would work with a mouse pointer.”

  12. Scribble — This feature in iPadOS 14 for Apple Pencil will allow Pencil owners to handwrite in any text field and have it automatically translated from handwriting to type. On launch, it will support English and traditional and simplified Chinese, and can even distinguish between the two when used together in the same text field.

Additional resources

What devices can use iPadOS?

iPadOS is available for the 12.9″, 11″, 10.5″, and 9.7″ iPad Pro, the 5th, 6th, and 7th generation iPad, the 4th and 5th generation iPad mini, and 2nd and 3rd generation iPad Air. The Apple iPad Pro 2020 ships with iPadOS 13.4 preinstalled.

Additional resources

When was iPadOS released?

Apple first announced iPadOS at WWDC 2019; the company announced iPadOS 14 at WWDC 2020. Developer betas were made available on June 22, 2020, the day of the announcement. The public beta for iPadOS 14 is scheduled for some time in July, and final release for Fall 2020.

Additional resources

How do I get iPadOS?

The update is now available on compatible iPad models. To update, open the Settings app, and go to General > Software Update. For users of LTE-capable iPads, connecting to Wi-Fi is advisable to avoid overages or throttling as a result of downloading the update. ZDNet has additional advice on preparing your iPad for software updates.

Additional resources

Editor’s note: This article was updated by Brandon Vigliorolo to include iPadOS 14 details.

Image: Apple

WWDC 2020: iOS 14, iPadOS 14, Apple Watch and everything business pros need to know


Apple announced iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and updates to everything from Siri and Messages at the virtual version of the Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple CEO Tim Cook kicking off the WWDC 2020 keynote at Apple Park.

Image: Screenshot

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicked off on Monday, June 22 in a new all-digital format. Rather than being hosted in its usual location of San Jose, the conference is one of many moved online due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Instead of greeting a crowd from the main stage, Apple CEO Tim Cook welcomed viewers via the small screen during the opening keynote Monday morning at 10 am PT. 

The five-day event will be entirely online from June 22, 2020 to June 26, 2020, lifting the typical limit of around 5,000 developer attendees and allowing for millions of developers to engage virtually. Best of all, techies experience the entire conference free of charge, lifting the hefty $1,599 price tag usually required to attend.

The conference will feature two big events, the keynote and the Platforms State of the Union, as well as more than 100 engineering sessions, developer forums, and 1-on-1 developer labs by appointment.  

SEE: Apple iPadOS: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

WWDC typically focuses on software updates, with some new hardware versions. This year was no different, with Apple executives announcing new editions of iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS 7, and macOS 10.16. New devices such as iPhones and iPads are typically left for Apple’s annual Special Event hosted in the fall. 

Here are all of the announcements made at WWDC 2020, and what businesses need to know about them: 

This is a working list, and will be updated as announcements are made. 

1. iOS 

Cook invited Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering at Apple, to introduce iOS 14. 

“iOS is central to how we navigate our life and remain connected,” Federighi said. 

The three core updates to iOS: App Library, updated Widgets, and Picture in Picture. 

Currently, apps can take up pages and pages of your home screen, but the App Library automatically organizes apps for you. Users can even hide pages of apps they don’t use often, Federighi said. 

With widgets, they still help you get info at a glance, but they are now completely reimagined and data rich. All widgets can be different sizes and seen in “Today View” shows all your widgets in one place, but the new iOS also allows you to drag a widget out of Today View and onto your home screen. 

Picture in Picture was the other foundational update in iOS 14. With this feature, users can continue viewing videos when navigating to other apps. The video simply turns into a small window at the bottom of the screen. Users can even just keep the audio up on the side, Federighi said. 

Other updates to iOS 13 include: 

  • Messages: Pin favorite messages at top of message list. 
  • Group messages: Reply inline to specific messages, and mention specific people in the group. 

  • Memoji: Adds face masks and more than 20 new hairstyles and head coverings.

  • Maps: Rebuilt maps added cycling and EV routing for electric cars.

  • Carplay: In most new cars, allows users to add new wallpapers. Developing tech to unlock your car from iPhone.

  • App store: App clips lets you access features in apps without downloading the full app.

2. iPadOS

Josh Shaffer, Apple engineering director, took the screen to introduce iPadOS 14. The new operating system has the same redesigned widgets as iOS, as well as the updated Siri. 

iPadOS is unique, however, in its revamped sidebar, which allows users to drag and drop photos, similar to the functionality on a Mac. The OS also has universal search, which allow users to search within apps, find contacts, start web searches, or locate documents. 

With the new call experiences, phone calls won’t take up your entire screen, instead allowing you to view who is calling with a small phone symbol, limiting disruption, Shaffer said. 

Major updates to iPad’s Apple Pencil were also announced. Scribble completely revolutionizes how Apple Pencil is used. With on-device machine learning, users can write words into any text field with the Apple Pencil, and it will be converted directly into text. 

3. WatchOS

One of the most exciting and prolific announcements at WWDC 2020 was WatchOS 7, which has a bevy of new features. 

“Apple Watch has been an intelligent guardian of your health,” said Kevin Lynch, vice president of technology at Apple. And the updates are taking it to the next level.

In WatchOS  7, complications are richer, allowing for more detailed watch faces. Developers can build rich complications with Swift UI, and all users can easily share watch faces. With Face Sharing, users can look through various watch faces, click “Add Apple Watch face” to the desired design, and immediately have access.  

Maps on WatchOS 7 has also been optimized for cyclists, allowing cyclists to get directions on their wrists, Lynch said. 

Julz Arney, senior project manager for fitness experiences at Apple, joined the screen to discuss the significant updates to fitness and health on Apple Watch. 

WatchOS 7 is adding Dance to Apple workouts, with the ability to track hip hop, Bollywood, cardio dancing, and more. Core workouts are now accurately tracked, and functional training and cool down have been added as workouts. 

The Apple Activity App also received a brand new name: Fitness. The summary tab in Fitness has been redesigned, allowing for an easy, seamless way to see all of your workout history. 

Perhaps the biggest addition to WatchOS 7 is sleep tracking, a feature competitor Fitbit has had for years. Users can choose when they would like to go to bed and when they would like to wake up. When it’s time to go to bed,  your phone will see a Wind Down screen, helping to minimize distractions by enabling Do Not Disturb mode. Your watch will also have a dimmed Wind Down screen, with Do Not Disturb enabled. 

Using a machine learning model, the watch tracks your micro movements based on the rise and fall of your breath. When it’s time to wake up, users can chose between a sound alarm or haptic alert from the watch. 

For more, check out Apple’s online-only WWDC 2020: What to expect and how to watch on TechRepublic. 

Apple Weekly Newsletter

Whether you want iPhone and Mac tips or the latest enterprise-specific Apple news, we’ve got you covered.
Delivered Tuesdays

Sign up today

Also see