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Posts tagged with "iPadOS"

Sidecar in iPadOS 13 and macOS Catalina: Working Seamlessly Between an iPad and Mac

The core experience of using Sidecar is fantastic. Part of the reason is that running an iPad as a second display for a Mac with Sidecar is immediately familiar to anyone who has ever used multiple displays. The added screen real estate, portability, and functionality are part of the appeal too. Of course, there are differences that I’ll get into, but Sidecar is so close to a traditional dual-display setup that I expect it will become a natural extension of the way many people work on the Mac.

There’s more going on with Sidecar though, which didn’t dawn on me until I’d been using it for a while. One of the themes that emerged from this year’s WWDC is deeper integration across all of Apple’s platforms. As I’ve written in the past, SwiftUI is designed to accomplish that in the long-term across all the devices Apple makes. In contrast, Catalyst is a shorter-term way to tie the Mac and iPad closer together by bringing iPad apps to the Mac and encouraging developers to build more robust iPad apps.

Sidecar strikes me as part of the same story. Apple made it clear when they introduced Catalyst in 2018 at WWDC that it’s not replacing macOS with iOS. Some tasks are better suited for a Mac than an iPad and vice versa. Sidecar acknowledges those differences by letting an iPad become an extension of your Mac for tasks best suited to it. At the same time, however, Sidecar takes advantage of functionality that’s unavailable on the Mac, like the Apple Pencil. Combined with the ability to switch seamlessly between using Mac apps running in Sidecar and native iPadOS apps, what you’ve effectively got is a touchscreen Mac.

However, to understand the potential Sidecar unlocks, it’s necessary to first dive into the details of what the new feature enables as well as its limitations.

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Creating Home Screen Icons with Launch Center Pro 3.1 and the Shortcuts App

This fall when iPadOS 13 launches, it will bring an updated Home screen that incorporates pinned widgets and a denser arrangement of apps. The changes aren’t as revolutionary as iPad power users may have hoped when they heard whispers of a redesigned Home screen, but they’re a start. While the addition of widgets is valuable in its own right, in my beta testing of iPadOS I’ve also discovered a lot of potential for the larger set of icons the Home screen can now hold – particularly when combined with a new feature just added to Launch Center Pro.

Debuting today, Launch Center Pro 3.1 centers around a major upgrade to the app’s icon composer that provides countless options for creating custom icons. While the use cases for this icon creation tool are vast, I was intrigued by one specific possibility: designing icons that could be exported as image files and used by Apple’s Shortcuts app when adding shortcuts to the Home screen, since Shortcuts allows choosing custom images for Home screen shortcuts. Combined with several key OS changes, and the icon creation tool in Launch Center Pro, it’s a better time than ever to add shortcuts to your iPad or iPhone Home screen.

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Apple Launches First Public Betas for iOS 13, iPadOS 13, macOS Catalina, and tvOS 13

Today Apple has released its first public beta versions of its forthcoming software updates. iOS 13, iPadOS 13, macOS Catalina, and tvOS 13 are all available as public betas. As in years past, there is no public beta available for the Apple Watch or HomePod.

Users interested in trying out the latest versions of Apple’s software platforms can enroll in the beta program at beta.apple.com. However, this should only be done with appropriate caution and a willingness to endure buggy, unreliable software. These first public beta releases come a mere three weeks following the initial wave of developer betas, which themselves were especially unstable; as such, these releases are likely to be less reliable than even the public beta versions of years past.

If you’re wondering what all is new in these beta releases, you can read our full overviews of iOS 13, iPadOS 13, macOS Catalina, and tvOS 13. We’ll have continuing coverage of all the new features coming to Apple’s software platforms throughout the summer, leading up to their release this fall.


Catalyst Can Rescue the Mac and Grow the iPad

At WWDC 2018, Craig Federighi provided a sneak peek at what everyone was calling Marzipan: an as-yet-unnamed way for iPad app developers to bring their apps to the Mac. So, it came as no surprise when Federighi retook the stage in 2019 and revealed more details about the project and its official name: Catalyst.

What caught a lot of developers off guard though was SwiftUI, a declarative approach to building user interfaces that was also announced at WWDC this year. SwiftUI, known before the conference as Amber, its rumored project name, was on developers’ radar almost as long as Catalyst, but it’s fair to say that few anticipated the scope of the project. The purpose of SwiftUI is to allow developers to build native user interfaces across all of Apple’s hardware platforms – from the Apple Watch to the Mac – using highly-readable, declarative syntax and a single set of tools and APIs. If that weren’t enough to get developers’ attention, using SwiftUI carries the added advantage of providing features like dark mode, dynamic type, and localization automatically.

The message from WWDC was clear: SwiftUI is the future, a unified approach to UI development designed to simplify the process of targeting multiple hardware platforms. It’s a bold, sprawling goal that will take years to refine, even if it’s eagerly adopted by developers.

However, SwiftUI also raises an interesting question: what does it mean for Catalyst? If SwiftUI is the future and spans every hardware platform, why bother bringing iPad apps to the Mac with Catalyst in the first place? It’s a fair question, but the answer is readily apparent from the very different goals of the two technologies.

SwiftUI serves the long-term goal of bringing UI development for all of Apple’s platforms under one roof and streamlining it. It won’t take over immediately though. There’s still work to be done on the framework itself, which Apple will surely expand in capability over time.

By contrast, Catalyst is a shorter-term initiative designed to address two soft spots in Apple’s lineup: the stagnation of the Mac app ecosystem, and the slow growth of pro iPad apps. The unstated assumption underlying the realignment seems to be that the two app platforms are stronger tied together than they are apart, which ultimately will protect the viability of their hardware too.

The impact of Catalyst on the Mac and iPad remains murky. It’s still too early in the process to understand what the long-term effect will be on either platform. There’s substantial execution risk that could harm the Mac or iPad, but despite some troubling signs, which I’ll get to in due course, I’m convinced that Catalyst has the potential for meaningful improvements to both platforms, especially the Mac. Let’s take a closer look at what those could be.

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Initial Thoughts on iPadOS: A New Path Forward

When I published my Beyond the Tablet story a few weeks ago, I was optimistic we’d get a handful of iPad-related features and optimizations at WWDC. I did not, however, foresee an entire OS designed specifically around iPad. And the more I think about it, the more I see iPadOS as a sign of Apple’s willingness to break free from old assumptions and let the iPad be what it’s best at: a portable computer inspired by the Mac, but based on iOS.

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Safari on iPadOS is Living Up to the Hype

Dieter Bohn at The Verge spent some time with the new and improved Safari on iPadOS:

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.


You can also follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2019 hub, or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2019 RSS feed

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Hands-On with iPadOS and iOS 13: Changes Big and Small

iPad and iPhone users are in for a big treat this fall when iPadOS and iOS 13 launch. Each update is a major release that pushes Apple’s mobile platforms forward in big and small ways, making them more powerful for consumers and professionals alike.

If you haven’t read my iPadOS and iOS 13 overviews yet, the majority of details about each release are documented there. But I’ve been using the beta versions of both systems for a few days now, and while these are just an early look at what the finished releases will be, there are a lot of changes – some very significant, while others are relatively minor – that I’ve been excited to see.

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The Full List of Automation Triggers in Shortcuts for iOS 13

On last week’s episode of Adapt I shared that automation for running shortcuts was one of my top two feature requests for iOS 13. And despite the Shortcuts app not receiving much stage time during the WWDC keynote, Apple has officially granted my wish in a big way.

The Shortcuts app in iOS 13 has a new Automation tab, in which you can configure shortcuts that automatically run based on a wide variety of triggers. Currently, certain automation actions require sending a notification first when the trigger is activated, and that alert contains the option to run the shortcut; other actions, however, include a toggle that determines whether the automation runs automatically in the background, or if you’d prefer an alert instead.

Here is the full list of current automation triggers in iOS 13 beta 1:

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iPadOS: The MacStories Overview

Today during the WWDC keynote, where Apple unveiled the next major version of its mobile software platform, iOS 13, the company also had a big surprise to share: iOS is now exclusive to the iPhone and iPod touch and has given birth to a new, dedicated operating system for the iPad, named iPadOS.

iPadOS includes all the existing features of iOS, including the host of updates coming in iOS 13, but adds to it a long list of enhancements that address common pain points among iPad Pro users. From an updated Home screen to multitasking improvements, Files upgrades including USB drive support, a desktop-class Safari, and much more. All of these features aim to make the iPad a more capable full-time computer than ever before.

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