My feelings about first iPadOS public beta

iPadOS IntroiPadOS public beta was supposed to be released sometimes in July, as Apple said in WWDC 2019 keynote, but it’s here since last Monday. I was using it few days and now I will share my feelings. Generally, beta is pretty stable and new iOS 13 features are amazing. From native support of external USB-C disks to redesigned “Open with…” menu, I’m really looking forward for final release in September. Tested iPadOS is first public beta running on 2018 iPad Pro 12.9-inch wi-fi + cellular. It was upgrade from iOS 12, not clean installation.

Let’s start with Files app. This app was introduced in iOS 11, but from my sight it was just “manager of sandboxes”. But iOS 13 is changing everything. Because you can now create your own folders directly in “On My iPad” section, I’m considering to abandon 3rd party file manager. You can also connect to computers in your LAN via SMB and cloud storages like Dropbox and OneDrive – just make sure you have installed Dropbox/OneDrive app. Unfortunately, there is no native way to connect to (S)FTP server, so I will have to download separate app with Files app integration to access my (S)FTP servers directly via Files app. Apple also did not integrated Photos app into Files app.

Since now, you can connect external media directly to iPad Pro via USB-C. If your disk uses older USB-A standard, you can buy official USB-C to USB-A adapter and for SD memory cards, Apple also offers official USB-C to SD Card Reader. Another way to connect your stuff is an USB-C dock. I’m personally using Hyper USB-C Hub HyperDrive 6 in 1, which I reviewed HERE. Also be careful with filesystem. I tested some of them on USB stick and here are my results:

  • Mac OS Extended: full support for read and write
  • MS DOS (FAT): full support for read and write
  • ExFAT: full support for read and write
  • NTFS: not recognized by iPadOS

Note: I used NTFS for Mac by Paragon Software to format my USB stick to NTFS.

All operations are supported, you can manage your files via drag-n-drop between local and external storage.

Another great feature is Column View. With this mode, you can see your file structure in multiple levels, and with Dark Mode, it looks really good:

iPadOS Files app

Click here for full-sized screenshot

Your files stored in Files app can now show rich metadata, including EXIF data from your photos like in macOS Mojave. Also new sorting option is available – sorting by kind. I use this sorting on my Mac too, but in iPadOS you can’t manually set if folders should be always first – fortunately, they are first by default and that’s cool.

iOS Share Menu (“Open with…”) was redesigned. Last update of this menu was in iOS 8 with ability to add extensions and to sort your apps in menu. Now it better separates target apps and extensions and also it adds Siri Shortcuts directly to Share Menu. In Siri Shortcuts app, you can, for example, set which shortcuts are gonna be used with image files, so if you have created many shortcuts, you won’t see non-eligible shortcuts when working with mentioned pictures. Share Menu got brand-new look:

Share Menu

You can set your favorite apps. As for other apps, it looks like they are displaying based on file support and Siri with Machine Learning technology. I will investigate it deeper later.

Another big update is a revamped screenshot feature. When you take a screenshot, you will notice a new interface. Tools look similar to real tools, like pen or pencil. Tools palette can be moved or minimized. You can add text, signature and magnifier feature. Also, new tools appeared – square, circle, speech bubble and arrow. And now, when browsing Internet, you can capture whole webpage, not only what’s currently visible on display. After taking a screenshot, you can now save it to Files app, not only to Camera Roll.

Multitasking was updated too. Now in Split View, apps are by default in 1:1 ratio and, if developer updates his apps, you can have multiple windows from the same app. After you tap app’s icon in Dock, you will see all windows of the chosen app, something like Exposé feature from macOS. And in Slide Over, you can have opened multiple apps and you can switch between them by gesture.

Many users were complaining why big iPad uses mobile Safari. New Safari is still a mobile version of Safari from macOS, but now it’s desktop-class browsing. It’s not just about stopping loading of mobile versions of webpages instead of desktop versions, it’s much deeper technology, so now, for example, Google Docs now works on iPad in Safari without need of installing mobile apps. Another issue was with downloading files from Internet. You no longer need a separate download manager, Safari has built-in downloader. Just make sure to set to save downloaded files locally and not to transfer to iCloud Drive. I was using Easy Download Manager, but now I can delete it. Just one issue – Safari can’t download files while iPad is locked, so if you are downloading many data while you are sleeping at night, definitely check EDM – Easy Download Manager.

Home Screen was changed. Yor apps are now in 6 x 5 grid. Also, there are widgets alongside apps’ icons, but unfortunately, widgets are only on the first screen. You can display widgets by gesture or to set to be displayed permanently. In widget settings, you can pin up to two favorite widgets, which are always shown.

As for Apple Pencil, you can take screenshots by dragging pencil from display corner. Also, thanks to software optimizations, latency was lowered to 9 ms.

Keyboard is shrinkable to iPhone size by gesture and it should support typing in swift-keyboard style, but swift typing is not working yet. If you are using physical keyboard, you can benefit from many new shortcuts. As for text typing, Apple now officially allows to directly install fonts. In the past, you have to rely on apps like iFont or AnyFont.

And now a feature I really like – Dark Mode. Welcome to the Dark Side. It’s now system-wide and all Apple’s apps support it. Some 3rd party apps already support dark theme, but these apps won’t switch between light and dark mode based on iPadOS’s settings. They may be set to switch theme automatically based on time or display’s brightness, but this rely on developers’ choice. There is no way yet to switch between modes based on iPadOS settings, but with final release of iPadOS in September, developers will be allowed to use native switching of modes in iPadOS. Dark Mode can be turned on from Control Center by long-tapping on brightness button.

Photos app was improved. There are many little or bigger improvements, but my most favorite feature is native support for more advanced photo (and video!) editing. As for Photos, now you can not only use filters and some basic operations, but now you can apply filter intensity and edit some aspects of your taken photos, like exposure, brilliance, highlights, shadows, contrast, brightness, black point, saturation, vibrance, warmth, tint, sharpness, definition, noise reduction and vignette. As for videos, you can use similar tools – like exposure, highlights, shadows, contrast, brightness, black point, saturation, vibrance, warmth, tint, sharpness, definition, noise reduction and vignette. And that’s not all – you can apply filters, crop videos and changing perspective.

There are also other new features, like faster performance, new text gestures, new privacy features, improved Augmented Reality, new voice for Siri, custom Memoji in Messages, all-new Reminders app, improved Notes app, ability to pair two sets of AirPods to one iPad and Handoff support for HomePod, but I mentioned all features I experienced, so I haven’t mentioned Sidecar because I’m not running beta of macOS Catalina, and I can say that iOS 13 is really a big step to convert iPad from consumption device to real laptop replacement.

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