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Apple introduces iPadOS, bringing better multitasking and file management to the iPad

It's been some time coming, but today at WWDC, Apple has announced that it's splitting the iPad version of iOS from the iPhone version, and calling it iPadOS. With this split, Apple is bringing a bunch of improvements to the OS that are specific to a device as big as the iPad, especially the iPad Pro.

One of the big new features of this release is the better use of the available space and improved multitasking. The home screen now has tighter spacing to make room for more apps on a single screen, and if you swipe in from the left, your widgets will be pinned to the side of the screen, rather than taking up the entire space.

For apps, multitasking with Slide Over is improved. Now, in addition to changing the app you've stowed away in Slide Over, there's a task manager just for this mode. Swiping up from the bottom of the Slide Over app will bring up the task manager so you can change which app is being overlaid on top of the screen. There's also a dedicated button for quick app switching.

Multi-window mode is also improved now, letting you create spaces with copies of the same app on the same screen, so you can see two different items at once. Additionally, these spaces are stored in the app manager, so not only can you switch between single apps, you can switch between spaces with two apps you've previously chosen. This works with system apps as well as third-party ones.

Files is also getting some major, and much-needed improvements. Most relevant to the majority of users will be the fact that you can use the USB Type-C port on the iPad Pro to connect external storage. Not only does it support flash drives, but you can also connect your camera directly to your iPad after you've taken some pictures, so you can edit them much quicker.

File sharing is also significantly more capable now. iCloud Drive lets you share folders with other users, and you can also connect to SMB file-sharing servers on the iPad. There's also a new column view for the app, letting you see the folder hierarchy for the files you're looking at, and you can see a preview, quick actions, and metadata for files right from the Files app.

Making the iPad Pro even more like a real computer, Safari now acts more like a desktop web browser, showing you the desktop layout for websites by default, while also optimizing it for the iPad's screen size and touch input. There's also a download manager, thirty new keyboard shortcuts, the ability to save tab sets, and many other small improvements.

Apple is also improving support for the Apple Pencil, with an enhanced set of drawing tools that can also be dragged across the screen. Apple is also making the PencilKit API available for developers to enable these tools for their own apps. It's easier to draw on any app now, too, by dragging the Apple Pencil down from the corner to go immediately into markup mode.

Navigating and editing documents should also be easier, with the ability to scroll through documents by dragging the scroll indicator on the side of the screen to get to places more quickly. There are new shortcuts for copying, cutting, and pasting text. You can do a three-finger pinch-in gesture to copy selected text, and do it again quickly to cut it. Then, a three-finger pinch-out gesture can paste the text anywhere.

Lastly, Apple introduced a floating keyboard, so it will no longer take half of your screen, and this lets users type using a single hand while holding the iPad with the other. Like the iOS keyboard, you can swipe across the keys to type.

iPadOS, along with every other software updates announced today, should be available this fall.

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