Google Docs has long been a huge problem on the iPad, for two reasons. First, Google’s own iPad app is god-awful and the company seems hell-bent on not updating it to work better. Second, Google Docs in Safari on the iPad right now redirects you to that app even if you “Request Desktop Site.”
On iPadOS, however, Google Docs in Safari seems great.
Admittedly, I only spent about five minutes poking around, but I went straight for the stuff I didn’t expect to work at all — and it worked. Keyboard shortcuts for formatting and header styling, comments, cursor placement, and even watching real-time edits from another person in the doc all worked.
In iPadOS, Apple is setting the Safari user agent to the desktop version (previously, Safari on iPad has used a mobile user agent), but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Setting the user agent will cause websites to display their desktop varieties, but those were built with the expectation of mouse interactions rather than touch. There’s a lot more details to uncover here, but it looks like Apple has done a huge amount of work under the hood to make touch interactions work intuitively in the desktop browser paradigm.
We’ll have many more details on the new Safari changes over the coming weeks and months, but at first glance it’s great to see that Apple wasn’t kidding about iPadOS Safari being truly desktop-class.