iPadOS 15 mini-review: Playing catch-up with the iPhonevar abtest_1802043 = new ABTest(1802043, ‘click’);

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Samuel Axon

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Last year, Apple released a meaty iOS update for iPhones, but some of the biggest changes didn’t apply to the iPad. This year, the iPhone update is minor—so does that mean the iPad update is big this time?

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Well, it depends on your point of view. iPadOS 15 brings almost everything iOS 15 brought to iPhones, but it also brings those major iOS 14 omissions from last year to tablets. As a result, iPadOS 15 feels like a significant update if you haven’t been using an iPhone recently, but if you’ve already used iOS 14’s new Home Screen and App Library features, it’s worth it instead. Feels like it’s late for the party.

We published a lengthy, iPhone-focused review of iOS 15 earlier this week. Consider it a small addendum to the review that headlines on the iPad. See a previous review for details on new features like Focus that aren’t iPad specific or for a list of iPads supported by iPadOS 15.

Table of Contents

home screen

Let’s start with the home screen, which saw the biggest change this year, even though almost everything about it was already available on different iPhones when iOS 14 launched in late 2020.

Probably the most important introduction to iPadOS 15 is the App Library view, which the iPhones got last year. Swiping right on the Home screen will take you here, where you’ll find a search field and several folders containing each app you’ve installed on your iPad. Unfortunately, as in iOS 14, you cannot define these folders yourself; The software generates them automatically.

The real advantage here is that the Home screen is no longer the only place you can store apps, which means you can remove apps from the Home screen via Spotlight search and going to the App Library screen.

So if you have an app that you use occasionally, but not daily—such as to check-in to your investment portfolio, perhaps, or an ordering app for a specific restaurant—you can install that app. You can use it whenever you want. But keep your home screen clean and focused.

App Library in iPadOS 15.
Samuel Axon

When you try to delete an app on the Home screen, you’ll be asked whether you want to remove the app completely or move it back to the App Library.

Plus, you can now hide or show home screen pages, which plays nicely with Focus Mode (see the iOS 15 review for details about it; it works the same on the iPad) giving you more features than ever before. Before to give home screen customization.

The iPad also gets something the iPhone didn’t: access to the app library from the Dock, which is much more convenient than swiping up on the last page on the home screen.

Widget

The other major addition to the home screen is free-form widget support. The situation has been a bit awkward with widgets; Home-screen widgets debuted on iPadOS a few years ago, but this more robust update hit the iPhone about a year ago and is only making its way to the iPad with iPadOS 15.

While you could previously place widgets on a predefined location on the home-screen page, you can now place them anywhere on the home screen and in many different sizes, including changes for some of the widgets that are available on the iPhone. were not available.

You can either place widgets side by side on the home screen with app icons, or you can place them in a stack that takes up as much space as just one widget; You can swipe your finger on it to switch between widgets in that location. It’s all similar to what we saw on the iPhone when we reviewed iOS 14.

Here is one of the widget sizes for the TV app.
Samuel Axon

Unfortunately, organizing icons and widgets on the home screen is still a real pain. The “wobble mode” icon-and-widget placement approach and cascading list format of the home screen will have to go; Their limitations have only become more apparent as more customizations and features are added.

Still, if you can suffer from the frustration of having to break your layout as many times as you want, trying to get everything you want, the combination of widgets and an app library can be used to make the home screen work perfectly on the iPad. Changes the way you want to do this. (If you don’t, you can simply ignore it and use the iPad’s home screen as usual.)

multitasking

When Apple announced iPadOS 15, it put multitasking front and center. New content here includes more intuitive ways to access features that already exist, but they are welcome.

new multitasking button

For example, application windows that are in full-screen or split-view mode now have a three-dot ellipsis button at the top. Tapping or clicking on it brings up a small panel that lets you select full-screen, split view, or slide over.

Tapping full screen does exactly what you’d expect; This makes the app full-screen. Tapping Split View lets the app take up half of the screen, then freezes you to the Home screen where you can select another app to take up the other half.

At the top of the app on the left, you can see three options that are brought up by the multitasking button.  And in the app on the right, you can see what the button looks like before you tap it.  (It's the ellipsis in the top-center of the app.)
Samuel Axon

Previously, the path was tough in the split scene. You’ll have an app in full screen, then you’ll swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up the dock, and then you’ll long-press an app in the dock and drag it to the edge of the screen. It clicked in split view. Needless to say, this method was not the greatest. The new setup is better, and it has the advantage of being intuitive, which the old way was not. If you weren’t shown you might never be able to figure out the old fashioned way.

Finally, tapping or clicking the slide-over button dumps the app into Slide Over, which resizes it to an iPhone app and hovers it over your full-screen or split-view apps. You can still swipe between slide-over apps, or you can take them off the screen and back on again as you wish.

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