What is iPadOS?

How the iPad operating system differs from iOS

iPadOS is the next, upcoming operating system for Apple’s wildly successful tablets. It’s based fairly heavily on iOS, so don’t expect a wild divergence from the system you already use on your iPad and iPhone. That said, there’s a few new features worth getting excited about in iPadOS 13. 

Announced at Apple’s developer conference, WWDC 2019, iPadOS 13 will include the iPad-exclusive features already existing in iOS 12 for the tablet, including multiple apps, drag and drop, support for Apple Pencil, and more (like Slide Over and Split View).

iPadOS 13

Announced: June 3, 2019
Latest Beta (2): June 17, 2019
Planned Release: Fall, 2019

Home Screen

The first thing you might notice when you launch iPad OS 13 will likely be on the Home Screen. Apple has tightened the grid of app icons so you can fit a few more on the screen at once, and it also allows for the new Pinned Widgets feature.

 If you swipe over from the left of your iPad screen, you’ll be able to add any widgets to the left side of your iPad Home Screen. This will be a welcome feature for anyone who wants quick information about their calendar, the weather, or other apps always accessible. It’s similar to Android widgets, as well as the widget screen on iOS, just moved to the front. Unfortunately, it’s only available on the first Home page; it will disappear when you swipe to any other pages of apps.


Slide Over on iPadOS 13
 Apple Inc

Slide Over and Split View have been around for iPads via iOS for a while now, but iPadOS 13 is adding some welcome new improvements. You can now have several apps open in Slide Over, making it much faster to switch between them in the right-side column Apple puts them in. You’ll swipe over from the right side of your screen, or you can drag apps up to the column from the dock. When you want to switch between Slide Over apps, you’ll see a similar interface to the multi-tasking one on iPhone; simply swipe through the apps and tap the one you want in your Slide Over space. 

Split View can now bring up two “Spaces” with the same app, so you can, for example, open two Pages documents at once. In addition to the regular Exposé option (which lets you see all open apps on your iPad at once), App Exposé in iPadOS 13 will let you see all the open Spaces you have running. 

Apple Pencil

Apple Pencil and iPadOS 13 panel
Apple Inc

There are improvements for Apple’s fancy stylus, Apple Pencil, here as well. The latency of the device has been decreased so there’s less lag between when you put the tip down on your iPad and when the screen is affected. It’s supposed to make it feel even more like drawing on a piece of paper. There’s also a whole new palette for Apple Pencil in iPadOS 13, as well, which makes related new features like full document markup and extending the screen of your macOS Catalina-powered Mac more useful (use your iPad as a touchscreen to draw in a non-iPad graphics app, for example).


Apple’s touchscreen devices have always used gestures to access various functions like accessing Control Panel, dropping into multitasking mode, and more. iPadOS 13 adds a few more, specifically tailored to text editing. You’ll now three-finger pinch to copy, three-finger spread to paste, and three-finger swipe to undo. Double three-finger pinch and you can cut text just as easily. This should work in both Apple-made apps and other third-party apps, too. Sound confusing? If so, a three-finger tap brings up a new contextual menu with all these actions. Simply tap one and go.

Selecting text has gotten a bit easier, as well, with a simpler drag to select text and a much easier way to move the cursor around onscreen. While you could already double tap a word to select it, now iPadOS 13 lets you select a whole sentence with three taps and an entire paragraph with four. 


Splitting the iPad onscreen keyboard has been a feature for many years now, but iPadOS 13 is kicking that up a notch, too. Now you can shrink the entire thing down and use swipe gestures to type with one thumb. If you’ve ever used an app like Swype Keyboard, you’ll find this new typing interface familiar. 


iPadOS 13 Files interface

Apple introduced a more robust Files app in iOS 11, and its continuing to improve it for iPadOS13. The app itself now has a new column view which should make finding your documents and other files much easier, and there’s a new Finder-like preview panel that shows you file info like file size, modification dates, and dimensions (if it’s a photo). You can directly access flash drives now, too, and collaborate with shared folders via iCloud Drive. 

Desktop-class Safari

Safari on iPad with iPadOS 13

If you’ve grown tired of using websites optimized for mobile, iPadOS 13 has you covered. Safari will now identify itself to web servers as a Mac, so that you’ll get a computer-optimized website the first time around. No more searching for a “show me the Desktop version” link. This is a fantastic addition for those who use web apps like Google Docs, Drive, Dropbox, or WordPress, since (in theory, at least) these should now work the same on your iPad as they do on your computer. 

Tons of Other Stuff

Fonts on iPadOS 13
 Apple Inc

The much-anticipated Dark Mode is here in iPadOS 13, and it’s not just inverted colors. It’s been created from the ground up and integrated across the whole system, according to Apple, to make everything on your iPad’s screen easier on your eyes. 

The Photos app has been revamped with a new curated Album for pictures iPadOS 13 thinks you should see, along with new editing tools that can be used for stills and video alike. ARKit has been beefed up, so that using your iPad with augmented reality will include more gee-wiz features like placing virtual objects that can occlude real-world ones, making them look even more realistic. 

iPadOS 13 will come with Apple Arcade, a premium game subscription service, a new Siri voice, smarter maps and ways to share your stuff with other people, improved Notes and an all-new Reminders app, the ability to add fonts, privacy-focused Sign In with Apple, and much more. You can see all the specific features at Apple’s iPadOS 13 preview site