WWDC, Apple’s developer conference, is closing in. It starts on June 6th, with the State of the Union event, where Tim Cook & Co. lays out what’s next for Apple’s various platforms. This, of course, includes iPadOS 16, which is what this week’s issue of Switch to iPad is all about. Now, Apple won’t actually release iPadOS 16 at WWDC, they typically preview upcoming features, and release the first beta version. A live, public, release isn’t likely until sometime during the autumn, normally alongside new iPad models, and what we get then isn’t necessarily feature complete. Just look at iPadOS 15, where we didn’t get the much lauded, and truly excellent, Universal Control feature until iPadOS 15.4.
Now, I have lots of thoughts on iPadOS 16 myself, but I asked around a bit, and got some interesting thoughts and tidbits from some fellow iPad users. You might know them from YouTube, the App Store, or maybe a magazine or book cover? Let’s hear what they have to say about iPadOS 16, and their hopes for Apple’s next big version of the iPad operating system.
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Matt Waller, app developer
Matt Waller is an app developer with several projects under his belt, including the first (probably) app built and launched entirely on an iPad using Swift Playground. We interviewed him about that, as you might recall. Make sure to check out Matt’s website, and follow him on Twitter.
This is what Matt had to say about his hopes for iPadOS 16
Continued multitasking improvements
I don't have any specifics here, but more experimentation with the split screens and such would be fabulous. I've never liked the tiling on Mac, and honestly, for some blogging purposes, I get more done on the iPad when I have the screen split in half, and it's just really nice! So to keep up the good work. That's all I need.
Various development hopes
I'm still hoping for iCloud access on iPad Swift Playgrounds apps. It's a big miss that I can't do data syncing. I still use the little todo app I made on iPad multiple times a day every single day, and I'm at the point now where I'm craving ways to add syncing so that I can access them from my iPad and iPhone. But it's a huge task! Not only do you need to integrate with various third-party frameworks, but you've got to think about end-to-end encryption and the whole bit. So yeah, iCloud support is still #1 for me.
A close second is in-app purchase support, such that you don't need to upload builds to AppStoreConnect to test purchases.
In general, there are a ton of improvements that could be made, and I kind of would love to see the Playgrounds features grow into a new App Studio/Composer/Maker program that could work on iPad and Mac with all of these things fleshed out. I'm loving iPad so far though, and it's what I want to use for all my app development.
Okay, so RealityKit brought a photogrammetry framework to the Mac, and it would be incredible if that were spruced up to make photogrammetry on iPhones and iPads happen on the devices, such that you don't need to export photos to a Mac. I even talked with an engineer on Apple's team, and he said you don't need LIDAR or anything, just really high-quality images. Make 3D sharing super easy and casual could open some fascinating doors.
Christopher Lawley, YouTuber
Christopher Lawley is a YouTuber with a profound interest in the iPad platform. He’s done a ton of interesting videos, and is an all-around nice guy. Be sure to subscribe to Chris’s YouTube channel, and follow him on Twitter.
This is what Chris had to say about his hopes for iPadOS 16
This probably isn't a surprise to anyone who follows my work but I truly believe this is the time for Apple's professional creative apps to come to the iPad. The iPad's hardware is top of the line, especially now that both the iPad Pro and iPad Air have the M1 chip. I believe the iPad is the future of computing, but over the last few years its software updates have felt flat.
First, I would like to see Apple bring Final Cut and Logic to the tablet. Final Cut is their professional video editing software and Logic is their professional audio production software. Both work great on the current M1 Macs, so I doubt there would be any performance issues for the new iPads. While the UI would need to be rethought to take into consideration the smaller screen size and touch, it's not impossible. There are apps like LumaFusion and Ferrite already on the iPad that do similar tasks.
The next app is more of an update. Late last year, Apple released an update to Swift Playgrounds. This enabled the ability to create an app start to finish right from the iPad. While this is impressive the current implementation is very limited. I'm hoping we see the next version of this announced at WWDC, and it gives developers true freedom to work on their next app on the iPad if they wish.
While there is a lot of low-hanging fruit iPadOS 16 should check off, (like external monitor support, improvements to Files, better integration with Shortcuts throughout the OS) I think bringing pro apps to the platform would signal Apple believes in the iPad. After the last few OS updates I believe this is something they need to do soon. I hear from people almost daily loosing faith in the iPad and asking how my workflow with the Mac has been. While I don't think the iPad is in the dire situation the Mac was in 2016-2019 era, it's far from perfect, and pro apps would be a huge signal that the ship is turning around.
Michael Tigas, app developer
This is what Michael had to say about his hopes for iPadOS 16
There’s one particular improvement I’d love to see in iPadOS 16 (and is somewhat realistic): Floating app windows!
It’d be fantastic to freely overlay our own apps over others, similar to the capability of Quick Note added in iPadOS 15. Ideally, I’d like to swipe Focused Work into the corner of my screen, and have its countdown timer always displayed whilst I work from my iPad. Big wish for a big productivity boost! 😁
Matt Gemmell, writer
Matt Gemmell is a writer of thriller, horror, and suspense novels. Before going writer full time, Matt worked as a software engineer, with Apple among other companies. Visit Matt’s website, and follow him on Twitter.
This is what Matt had to say about his hopes for iPadOS 16
As a writer, iPadOS already serves my needs really well. I'm a heavy user of keyboard shortcuts, so I always wish for additional means of keyboard-based navigation and control, because I generally like to keep my hands on the keys at all times. I also hope that Apple doesn't take away the iPad's biggest asset for focus: the single-window environment. I appreciate that many people want a more desktop-like windowing environment, and I wouldn't object to that, but I hope I'll always have the option to keep things the way they are now too.
Craig Grannell, tech journalist
Craig Grannell is a writer and editor contributing to publications such as Wired and The Guardian, covering, among other things, the iPad. Visit Craig’s website, and be sure to follow him on Twitter for more on his writing and projects.
This is what Craig had to say about his hopes for iPadOS 16
With iPad, the hardware’s been there for generations. The software holds it back. At WWDC, I’m hoping this will change.
A nice-to-have would be Apple bringing pro-grade desktop products to iPad, like Logic and Xcode. A maddening-that-we-don’t-yet-have is full external display support.
The latter feels like shouting into the void. Apple is set on seamless transitions between multiple devices (see: Universal Control), but that assumes we’re made of money.
I want iPad to be a first-rate tablet, laptop and desktop, instantly switching as needs arise. Besides, it’s absurd using an Apple Studio Display with an iPad is a sub-par experience, not least when I can connect a whole bunch of Android phones to any 16:9 display and use them just like a PC.
Pro apps, and pro features, that’s what most of us want, it seems. It’s interesting to see how the windowed mode isn’t necessarily a feature, unitaskers like author Matt Gemmell (and, fairly often, myself) fear the added clutter to the interface. I’d argue we kind of have that already, with Slide Over, but windows floating everywhere might not be what everybody wants. That said, Michael makes a good case for it, and for his Focused Work app, so it’s not clean-cut, I’d say. Personally, I have a hard time seeing Apple enabling a windowed mode on just external monitors, it’s too far a step from the default interface, so it’s either an option everywhere, or nowhere. Now, just like with Slide Over and Quick Note, there are obviously ways to do this so that it’ll scale properly over different screen sizes, so that would be great.
I’ll have more on my thoughts on iPadOS 16, and what we can hope for in terms of pro apps, accessories, APIs, and more further down the line. For now, I’d like to thank all the participants for taking the time to share their thoughts. Do check out their various ventures and projects, they’re remarkable people, all.
— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡