iPadOS cheat sheet: Everything you should know

iPadOS cheat sheet: Everything you should know
iPadOS cheat sheet: Everything you should know

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 and the 11″ and 12.9″ iPad Pro with M1 chip.

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 an overview of the software’s features. This article will be updated periodically as new information about iPadOS becomes available. You can also download this article: Apple iPadOS: A cheat sheet (free PDF).

SEE: Apple’s Sept. 2021 event: What business pros need to know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Jump to:

What is iPadOS?
What are the main features of iPadOS?
What is the latest iPadOS version?
What is the release date for iPadOS 16?
Which iPads are compatible with iPadOS 16?
How can you tell what version of iPadOS you have?
When was iPadOS released?
How do I get iPadOS?
What is iPadOS?
For the release of iOS 13, Apple rebranded the variant of iOS for the iPad as iPadOS, effectively making it a superset of the phone-oriented iOS. iPadOS includes all of the improvements available with iOS 13, as well as new features and optimizations specific to the iPad.

“iPad transforms how people work and express their creativity, and with iPadOS, we’re taking it even further by delivering exciting capabilities that take advantage of its large canvas and versatility,” said Craig Federighi at the WWDC 2019 event. “iPadOS delivers exciting features, including a new Home screen with widgets, more powerful multitasking and new tools that make using Apple Pencil even more natural.”

Today, iPadOS 16 transforms the iPad into a more desktop-class experience that is on par with what you would expect from macOS and departs a lot from the previous experience that was a bigger iOS operating system.

Additional resources

iPadOS 15: Best uses for Apple Pencil (TechRepublic)
iPadOS 15: The 10 best multitasking keyboard shortcuts (TechRepublic)
WWDC 2022 Keynote Recap: Apple’s newest exciting software, hardware and more (TechRepublic video)
What are the main features of iPadOS?
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.

tablet-oriented home screen
The iPadOS home screen now supports persistent widgets. The iPadOS home screen will support Home Screen widgets on iPadOS 15 and newer. Users can place and organize widgets on the home screen the way they would an app (similar to widgets on Android tablets since Android 3.0).

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.

The Multitasking feature available on iPadOS 15 and newer makes it easier to find and use apps on iPad. Users can use a single app in full screen mode or use multiple apps simultaneously in the Split View or Slide Over mode.

The new center window feature allows users to touch and hold to bring notes or messages to the center of the screen without leaving the current task. With easy menu options, users can access additional options without interrupting whatever task they’re currently working on.

At WWDC 2021, Apple also introduced the “shelf,” a tray that displays open apps that users can access at the bottom of their iPad screen.

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 also added to Safari.

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 a third-party program or an intermediary Mac for file management.

Improvements to Files app
Files adds a column view similar to Finder on macOS as well as support for Server Message Block (SMB) shares.

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

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

New gestures for faster editing
Copy, paste and undo can now be performed using three-finger gestures, with three-finger pin


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