iPad OS and iOS 13.1 arrive today. When you upgrade your tablet (and phone) to the latest versions of the operating system, here are some of the best new features you’ll want to try. (The focus here is on iPad OS.)
First visit a website...
Visit a website in Safari. You may not notice much, but you will be accessing the full Desktop site, just like when using Safari on a Mac.
Now, open SlideOver
Try this: Open an app in SlideOver. Then open another. Keep doing it.
[ Further reading: The wireless road warrior’s essential guide ]
Now you can swipe between all those apps you have opened in SlideOver – just tap and hold the black bar at the bottom of the SlideOver window, raise it slightly with a gentle rightward movement. You will see a new mini App Switcher window open that lets you explore up to five apps currently open in SlideOver.
Why is this good? Imagine you are working on a project and need to bring in different assets from different apps. This feature makes that pretty easy.
You can use an external drive
iPad OS lets you use an external drive with your iPad. That’s great for handling images stored on any external drive and is surely one of the most requested features from pro users attempting to use their tablets to get work done.
Now, you can. The feature works with USB drives, SD drives and SMB file servers. And it’s simple – though you may need to invest in a USB-C to USB-A dongle (or SD dongle). Using it is as simple as:
- Connect the external storage device.
- Open the Files app.
- Look at the Locations menu and tap the volume to see what’s inside.
- That’s it. You can now drag-&-drop files between the storage device and your iPad. You can even compress and decompress files.
- You’ll even see SMB-based servers on your network.
You can (kinda) use a mouse
You can use a mouse with your iPad, though its implementation is mainly as an Accessibility feature. Access this as follows:
- Open Settings>Accessibility>Touch.
- Now tap Assistive Touch and turn this feature on (toggle to green).
- While still in Assistive Touch settings, choose Devices in the Pointer Devices screen.
- Now find (or pair) your mouse. You can use a standard USB mouse so long as you have an adapter.
Once the novelty wears off you’ll find this severely limited – it’s basically the equivalent of using a finger, and you can’t use it for tasks such as highlighting text. It’s just nice to know it’s around.
More fun with Files
You’ll find a new Column View in Files , which makes it easier to explore nested filing systems. Once you have found a file you want to use, tap and hold its icon to find the new QuickActions view. This lets you Copy, Duplicate, Move, Delete, get file info, look at, tag, rename, Share AND compress your file. (Yes, compression is built-in).
One more neat Files tip:
If you are on a network and have a shared network drive you can quickly connect to it by pressing the ellipsis (…) icon at the top right of the Browse column.
Scan a document
Did you know you could do this from within Files?
- Open Files
- Tap the ellipsis (…) icon.
- Look – you can Scan Documents here.
Play with Split View
Apple has made some big improvements in Split View. Not only can you open three completely different windows (two in Split View and one in Slide Over). It’s easy to use: Open an app, slide up the Dock, drag-&-drop an app icon to the right or left of the iPad, open it in Split view. Then you can slide up a third app in SlideOver. You can even use this to open three different Safari windows.
Drag an active window up slightly and you’ll get to the App Switcher window – now, with a brand-new twist: You can now see your Split View window, as well as your apps.
Write something swipey
iPads running iPad OS can run QuickPath, which lets you swipe your finger between letters to write words. Machine learning figures out the word you are writing and places it in your copy.
It’s very accurate, but if you are running an iPad you need to get to the floating keyboard to access it: just swipe your thumb and index finger together on the keyboard to get the small mini floating keyboard.
Once you are in that keyboard, you can use QuickType.
Use Apple Pencil on websites
Here’s something else you might want to try:
- Open a Safari window.
- Take your Apple Pencil.
- Swipe up from the left or right of any screen.
Your iPad will automatically take a screenshot of the page. You get to choose to take the entire screen or the full document page. Now you can annotate the image, and explore all the new annotation controls as you do.
You may want to install new fonts
Using your iPad for design? Then you’ll want to install some new fonts.
Unfortunately, it’s a little complicated:
- You can find new fonts at the App Store (just search for "fonts"). When you find one you like, you just download it like any other app, open it, name it and install a configuration profile.
- Now you must open Settings>General>Profile, tap the collection and then choose Install.
- And then (I told you it was complicated) you open Settings>General>Keyboards>Add New Keyboard… and choose Fonts.
(I am a little concerned that the implementation means font publishers can track you when you install a font.)
You really should try Voice Control
You haven’t lived until you’ve controlled your iPad with your voice. (That’s not strictly true, but it’s still cool).
Voice Control is an Accessibility Setting on your iPad. Enable it by toggling it to on (green). You can then try a series of voice commands, open apps, or search for items. It takes getting used to, but try this to get some sense of what it can do:
- “Open Photos”: Your photos library will open in the last window it was in.
- “Show Grid”: A grid will appear. Say the number that’s above an item on the display you want to use.
- A second grid will appear, repeat the process until the grid size shrinks and it is clear what you have selected.
- “Double Tap”: The selected album, folder or image will open up, or a command (including Edit commands) will be initiated.
- When you’re done, say “Go Home” to return to the Home screen.
This feature is life-transforming for so many people, and fun, too.
Use it with a Mac (but not yet)
One of the best new features is Sidecar, which lets you use your iPad as a secondary display for your Mac – and as a graphics tablet using Apple Pencil.
Once macOS Catalina and iPad OS are installed, the easiest way to activate Sidecar is through the AirPlay icon – your iPad should show up as an option there. You can also access the mode using the green traffic light button at the top left of an application window.
You can use an Apple Pencil on your iPad to mark up images for your Mac, and type on the iPad (attached) keyboard if you wish. You’ll also see a new Touch Bar on the iPad for any Mac applications that support it.
You need iPad OS to run this mode, but you also need to upgrade your Mac to run macOS Catalina, which won’t be available until "October." I look forward to it.
One more thing...
Apple has also changed some of the keyboard controls for iPad OS. You can get a complete list of these here.
And don’t forget to try Apple Arcade. You get a free month. I'm spending mine in Oceanhorn 2.
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