Apple’s New iPadOS 17 Adds Multitasking, Health, Messages, Widgets
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Apple’s New iPadOS 17 Adds Multitasking, Health, Messages, Widgets

Apple’s New iPadOS 17 Makes Multitasking a Bit Better

The latest OS update is a real game-changer, offering enhanced multitasking capabilities and a wealth of new widgets and tools. Approach it with reasonable expectations, and you’re in for a pleasant surprise!

Apple iPadOS 17
With iPadOS 17, multitasking using Stage Manager has been improved to make the interface less obtrusive, allowing for easier movement of apps.

While there may not be a shiny new iPad hitting the shelves this year, there’s something equally exciting: a fresh version of iPadOS with some subtle yet very welcome changes. Now that iPadOS 17 has transitioned from beta to a final version (with more updates on the horizon, of course), it’s definitely worth downloading. I’ve been putting it to the test on my trusty M1 iPad Air during its public beta phase for a while now, and I can say it’s been a delightful experience with some immediate perks.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a complete overhaul of the iPad, and we’re not seeing the same level of dramatic changes as we did with the iPhone this year. However, the enhancements to Stage Manager are a breath of fresh air… even though I personally don’t use it all that frequently unless I’m hooked up to an external monitor.

Here are my thoughts so far, largely based on my time with the beta version.

Is iPad multitasking finally up to par?

Stage Manager, Apple’s multitasking system for iPad, has seen some significant improvements in iPadOS 17. In the previous iPadOS 16 version, it felt somewhat rigid in how you could arrange your four app windows, especially on the iPad itself. It was mainly useful when connected to an external monitor.

With iPadOS 17, while you’re still limited to having four apps on the screen simultaneously, Apple has made the experience much more flexible. You can now easily drag and arrange apps individually, ranging from narrow panes to wider panels, even approaching nearly full-screen options. Apple has also tidied up the interface, allowing the Stage Manager dock and iOS app dock to minimize, giving you more space to focus on your chosen apps. This is particularly valuable on an 11-inch iPad.

iPad 17 multitasking
iPad 17 Multitasking – Ultimate Guide

The stability of the Stage Manager also seems to have improved. You can seamlessly run multiple apps at the same time without experiencing performance issues. This might just make Stage Manager a feature you want to keep on all the time.

One thing to keep in mind is that Stage Manager’s external monitor features, which allow you to have four additional apps when connected to an external display, require an iPad with an M1 or M2 chip. The on-iPad Stage Manager feature is limited to iPad Pro models and the M1 iPad Air.

Better lock screens and better widgets? Sure, why not

The iPad in 2023 has finally inherited the upgraded iPhone lock screens introduced last year. Although it’s not as game-changing as it is on the iPhone, it’s a welcome addition. iPhones have always-on displays designed for quick glances, while the iPad tends to be a device that you turn on when you need it, with its display off by default. Most days, I unlock it so fast that I barely notice the lock screen.

The widgets on the Home screen have also become more practical, offering interactive controls for various apps on a larger canvas compared to what iPhones offer. While some of the widget controls didn’t always work perfectly for me, over time, these larger and more app-like widgets will likely make the iPad feel more seamless. I’d even love to see something like the iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island feature come to the iPad in some way. Having notifications that transform into useful information has proven to be incredibly handy on my iPhone. Still, the addition of these extras is definitely a step in the right direction.

Health app on iPad: Great idea, but no Watch support

It’s quite surprising that Apple didn’t introduce its Health app on iPads until iPadOS 17. This app has become a crucial hub for storing medical and fitness data, including medications and various health insights. The iPad version functions just like the iPhone app but on a larger screen.

Additionally, there’s a new feature in iOS 17 called mood logging, which has made its way to the iPad as well. It allows you to document how you’re feeling at any given moment and tag what might be contributing to those emotions. Similar features have been available on other health platforms like Fitbit.

However, despite having the Health app, the iPad still can’t pair with the Apple Watch. If you have an iPhone paired with your watch, it can relay data to the Health app and display relevant information such as heart rate, blood oxygen levels, fertility tracking, and sleep data. Yet, you won’t find the Apple Watch’s activity ring data and achievements on the iPad.

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Apple is also gearing up to release a Journal app later in the year, promising therapeutic daily journaling that combines writing, photos, and other daily activities. However, this app is not part of iOS 17 or iPadOS 17 at the moment.

Hidden Gems in iPadOS 17: Enhanced PDF Support, Expansive Sticker Collection, and Voice Replication

I use PDFs extensively and rely on the iCloud-based Files app for document storage. Managing and viewing PDFs has become more convenient now. PDFs open in new windows while keeping the Files app accessible, making it easier to work with them. The Notes app can also handle PDFs, and annotating them is a breeze. While these features aren’t groundbreaking in the world of computers, they contribute to the iPadOS becoming more flexible in a “Mac-like” way.

Apple has also streamlined the process of filling out PDF forms, which should hopefully make signing documents and completing medical forms a smoother experience for me this year.

On a less crucial note, Apple’s Stickers, previously part of the Messages app, have started appearing throughout the OS. You can easily convert photos into stickers and add them to your personalized collection, including animated ones from Live Photos. It’s a fun feature, and who knows, maybe I’ll use it more often.

Also Read “iOS 17 Review: StandBy Mode Changed My Relationship With My iPhone

One of the most intriguing and slightly eerie features of Apple is aimed at assistive technology. It’s called “Personal Voice,” and you can find it in the Accessibility settings. This feature lets you replicate your own voice for situations when you might not be able to speak. To set it up, you record voice samples into a profile, and over time, it generates an AI synthesis of your voice for converting typed text into spoken words.

A good gradual step

iPadOS 17 may not be a revolutionary leap, but it’s impressively stable and its new features are genuinely useful. It’s a valuable addition to an already capable iPadOS, even though it doesn’t quite turn the iPad into a Mac. As Apple continues to refine iPadOS in the coming years, the distinctions between devices may blur to the point where you forget which one you’re using. I’ve even found myself forgetting that I’m working on an iPad, and perhaps that’s exactly the goal Apple has in mind.

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However, there’s one feature from iOS 17 that I wish was available on the iPad: Apple’s StandBy mode. It creates a viewable display even when the iPhone is off, and this would be a perfect addition to the iPad, especially when it’s docked or used with a future accessory like the Pixel Tablet.

As VisionOS begins to merge the iPad experience with mixed reality and further integrates with Macs, the iPad’s future seems to be as a pivotal link connecting an ever more unified ecosystem of computers, smartphones, VR, and AR. But for now, in 2023, the iPad is simply getting better in all the right ways.

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