iPadOS 16.1 comes with the two new iPad models released by Apple on the evening of October 18,and will be officially rolled out to all iPad users who are eligible for the upgrade on October 24. Perhaps because there are so many iPad models, this time we’re following Mac’s lead and defining the iPadOS upgradeable devices in terms of the entire product line.
In recent years, iPadOS has been moving closer to macOS and further away from its original compatriot, iOS. iPadOS 16.1 is a testament to this. This major update to iPadOS actually brings iPad closer to Mac on every level, which is probably more in line with Apple’s positioning of iPad as the most flexible Apple device. So what are some of the new features to look for? Let’s take a closer look!
Multitasking: Stage Manager, Multitasking Menu
In iPadOS 16.1, one of the features that probably gets the most attention is Stage Manager. Currently, Front Desk Scheduling is supported on all iPad Pros released after 2018 and iPad Air with M1 processor (5th generation).
In the Control Center menu of iPadOS 16.1, a toggle for the Front Desk Scheduler feature is added by default. When the switch is turned on, iPadOS multitasking changes from the “side-pull” and “split-screen browsing” modes of iPadOS 15 to Stage Manager mode. In addition, in an update coming later this year, Stage Manager will also support full external display functionality, allowing up to 8 apps to run in the foreground of iPadOS at the same time.
The main difference of Stage Manager compared to the previous “Side Pull” and “Split View” is that you can now resize the windows on the iPad screen itself, and the windows can be stacked on top of each other, just like on macOS. Also, it is possible to run 4 App windows at the same time instead of the previous 3. But it’s worth pointing out that window resizing isn’t completely free. Apple sets a few default sizes and we can only adjust between them, and when we reposition them, the overlapping windows automatically attach and resize, a far cry from the freedom of adjustment on macOS.
In addition, the “multitasking menu” introduced in iPadOS 15 (i.e. the three dots in the middle above the App window) has been improved in iPadOS 16: clicking on the multitasking menu now gives clearer instructions on what the user can do with the window. For example, in front scheduling, a window can be “full screen”, “minimized”, or “add another window” directly here, while in normal mode, a window can be changed to “split-screen browsing” or “side-pull” mode.
Desktop-level optimizations for iPad
In iPadOS 16.1, a number of apps have received “desktop-level” optimizations. These features are not limited to the apps themselves, but are system-level interface and interaction improvements.
Resizing the iPad display
iPadOS 16.1 provides the option to change the display resolution for the 11-inch iPad Pro from 2018, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro from 2021, and the iPad Air (5th generation) with the M1 chip, in Settings – Display & Brightness – View. After testing, the 11-inch iPad Pro changes its screen resolution to 2778 * 1940 after adjusting to More Space, compared to 2388 * 1668 before. With the More Space effect, text and images are displayed accordingly, and more content can be displayed on the same screen.
iPadOS 16.1 also provides a customizable toolbar that can be adapted by developers at the system level. This is similar to the toolbars commonly found on macOS. Currently, system-level apps such as Mail and Notes have added customizable toolbars. Actions that previously relied on other gestures or menus can now be done with a single click from the toolbar.
Detailed management of documents
Another improvement brought by iPadOS 16.1 is that when a document is opened in a document management app such as File, we can perform some quick operations on the file directly from the menu bar. For example, when opening a picture in the File app, we can click on the file name to perform a series of file operations, such as moving, copying, or saving the picture directly into the photo gallery; when opening a PDF, we can lock the PDF, print, and other operations.
It’s worth mentioning that the File app now also provides macOS-like functionality to go back to the parent folder. After clicking on a folder name, we can see each folder above it and jump directly to it.
Other System and Performance Improvements
In iPadOS 16.1, apps can now support virtual memory swapping for iPad Air (5th generation) with 256GB or more of storage, as well as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (5th generation and later) and 11-inch iPad Pro (3rd generation and later), which can now provide up to 16GB of memory for a single app.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Liquid Retina XDR display also supports Reference Mode in iPadOS 16.1, which provides better support for workflows that require high levels of color accuracy and image quality such as auditing, color grading and compositing.
In addition, Apple introduced DriverKit in iPadOS 16.1, which allows developers to build drivers for iPad for audio, PCI, and USB accessories to expand the use case for iPad.
iPadOS 16.1 also supports more collaboration-related features, sharing more collaboration features between different iPad users in real time, such as Safari’s “Shared Tab Groups” feature, the new “Infinity Notes” app, and more. In addition, we can send collaboration invitations to other users in apps that support collaboration, inviting them to join in editing and modifying files.
Safari’s Shared Tab Groups feature allows you to share a group of tabs with other users. If you send an invitation to collaborate to a group, everyone in the group can add their own tabs; and if the tab group is updated while you’re collaborating, you can see it in real time.
“Weather” comes to iPad
iPadOS 16.1 finally brings the Weather app to iPad, and in line with the updated Weather app for iOS 16 on iPhone, tapping on different weather modules on iPad now displays beautiful statistics and trend graphs that reveal changes and trends in relevant weather indicators. Also, different modules will automatically adapt to the layout based on usability.
“Memo gets more functional updates
The Memo app in iPadOS 16.1 has also received more functional updates. First, the Apple Pencil’s handwriting supports a straightening feature that allows you to bring your handwriting back to the same level.
Second, screenshots can now be added directly to Quick Memo with one click; you can also capture the current screen directly in Quick Memo.
In addition, the organization and filing of memos has been improved to some extent. Now by default, all memos are grouped together by update date, such as “Today”, “Last 7 days”, “Last 30 days”, etc. In addition, during the folder creation process, we can use many filters to create “Smart Folders”, which can automatically group the memos created in the future, in addition to being able to filter the previously created memos by the conditions.
For example, we can collect all locked memos into the same folder; or all memos that contain website-type attachments; or all memos that mention a certain user, etc. Compared with the previous ocean of memos, Smart Folder can help us organize and categorize them quickly and filter them with a high degree of granularity.
A more modern Mail app
In iPadOS 16, the Mail app has also received a number of useful feature updates. One of the features I find most useful is probably the email timer feature. Now, you can choose when to send an email by long-pressing the Send button before sending. The system provides several more commonly used times as default options, and of course you can choose the date and time of sending by yourself. However, it should be noted that timed emails need to be kept online by the device in order to be sent.
In addition, you can also undo the sending of an email you just sent within 10 seconds. If you have just pressed the send button and realize you forgot an attachment or made a typo, you can now undo and rework it with one click. If the email is in English, iPadOS 16.1 will also remind you of attachments you may have forgotten to include or people you may have forgotten to mention in the email.
The search function within emails has also received some improvement. The new search method is smarter and can automatically correct possible typos; the search results are displayed with attachments and more, instead of the previous interface that just showed the message.
Other noteworthy details
Game controller support expansion
In addition to the DualShock controller and Xbox controller, iPadOS 16 also supports the Joy Con and Switch Pro Controller, which allow you to connect two Joy Con’s to your iPad separately or combine them into one controller. In addition, iPadOS 16 also supports the simultaneous connection of two controllers.
The “Books” app supports a customized reading experience
The Books app has been redesigned for iOS and iPadOS 16, especially for readers. There are many more customizable options than before. In addition, the effect of turning pages when reading and the effect of closing books are all different from before.
Redesigned “Family” app
“The Home app has also been redesigned. Previously, accessories needed to be controlled in different rooms, but now all HomeKit accessories can be viewed in one unified “Home” tab. It also introduces a “category” feature that allows you to filter HomeKit accessories in the same category, such as light bulbs and speakers, with one click. In addition, the Home app has some new gradient wallpapers that can be used as backgrounds. However, it should be noted that iPads upgraded to iPadOS 16.1 can no longer be used as Home Hubs. The new Family app also offers Matter support, but requires a Matter-enabled home hub, such as an Apple TV or HomePod.
iPadOS 16.1 also supports converting handwriting to emoji, but instead of drawing emoji shapes directly, you can tap the text to select the emoji you want to type after writing it down. In addition, apps like Memo that use Apple PencilKit now have three additional brushes: watercolor, single line brush, and pen brush.