It’s been over a week since the announcement of iOS 10, and I remember feeling a little disappointed in the lack of iPad-specific features they announced. The only obvious iPad-specific features we know of so far are:
Three-panel views in Mail and Notes (not bad…)
Side by side windows in Safari (yes!)
Music now works in Split View (about darn time)
Given that this is Apple’s major release for the year, that just doesn’t seem like a lot of iPad love when you compare it to last year’s iOS 9 announcement, where “iPad Experience” was one of the highlights of the release. This is especially true if iOS 9 encouraged you to invest in an iPad Pro, in the hopes that the specialized hardware was a sign that Apple would be taking the tablet even more seriously as a computing platform going forward.
When you think and write about this stuff on a weekly basis, it’s easy to set yourself up for disappointment. “If Apple doesn’t release X, I’m going to be disappointed” is an easy trap to fall into…and there are only so many times that you can use “there’s always next year” as a conclusion.
But after spending the last week on the beta and also reading a MacRumors forum posts about iOS 10-specific features, I find myself surprised at how capable the iPad Pro has become as a day-to-day computer. I’m still not totally happy with how it manages and edits photos, but iOS 10 has addressed so many small things that were bugging me about the iPad experience.
There are now separate keyboard settings if you use a hardware keyboard, with toggles for auto-capitalization, auto-correction, and the double-spacebar tap for inserting a period. This greatly improves the experience of using the Smart Keyboard on a daily basis, as I no longer have to choose between having a useful hardware keyboard, or a typo-friendly software keyboard.
It wasn’t announced, but iMessage also now has keyboard shortcuts for switching between chats. You can press Cmd + Up or Cmd + Down to switch between active chats, so you can easily hold multiple conversations. We are slowly but surely seeing iOS become more keyboard-friendly and, over the course of the past year with iOS 9, the 9.3 update, and the iOS 10 beta, I can now do a lot more on the iPad without having to reach up and tap the screen.
I spent a lot of time and energy thinking about what I’d want included in iOS 10, but now that we know the bulk of what’s coming, I’m actually feeling all right. Instead of approaching the iPad like a productivity puzzle I need to solve, I’ve taken the past week to look at the way I use my tablet. Even as of iOS 9.3, I’m able to do a lot more of my work and play on the iPad Pro than ever before. So while Apple isn’t rolling out iPad improvements at the rate, or in the order, that I was expecting, they are including enough iterations on the iPad experience to make it an increasingly useful and enjoyable tool. I’m sure we’ll see more intriguing features when new iPads and iPhones comes out this Fall (and Federico of MacStories seems to think this too), but I’m not counting on those releases to save the iOS experience. Having dipped my iPad Pro into the waters of iOS 10, the few extra features and all of the little fixes are feeling quite welcome.