6 great iOS 13 and iPadOS features (and 3 terrible ones)

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With iPadOS, you're one step closer to replacing your Mac with an iPad.
With iPadOS, you're one step closer to replacing your Mac with an iPad.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Despite being a really flaky beta so far, iPadOS works well enough to realize that it brings some real game-changing new features, plus a lot of excellent comfort tweaks that make using it much easier.

Today I’ll list my favorite new features in iOS 13 and iPadOS, along with a few changes I’d be happy to live without.

Best new iOS 13 and iPadOS features

Mouse!

Mouse support, but you still can't swap the ⌘ and ⌥ keys on a PC keyboard.
Mouse support, but you still can’t swap the ⌘ and ⌥ keys on a PC keyboard.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

It seemed like it would never happen, but the iPad finally gains mouse support in iPadOS. You need to switch it on in the Accessibility settings, but after that it works just like you’d expect. Better, in fact, because you can assign mouse buttons to all kinds of features, like showing the Dock, the App Switcher and Control Center, or even running a shortcut.

Most of the time, touch is still better than using a mouse. But when you have the iPad in a stand on a desk, and you have a keyboard hooked up, iPadOS’ mouse support is an amazing addition.

Files USB storage support

Finally! The Files app gains USB storage support in iPadOS.
Finally!
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This is another big one. Of course it means that you can hook up any external USB storage, like a thumb drive or even a full-on, mains-powered hard drive, but it also lets you connect and mount USB storage devices. These could be audio recorders or anything else. For instance, I can now connect my OP-1 synth/recorder, and not only copy audio to and from its internal storage, but also load in new synth presets and samples.

Column view

The Files app offers quite a few options for files
The Files app offers quite a few options for files.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Files app is improved overall, but the new column view makes navigating deep folder structures a breeze. Even better is its preview panel, which lets you view the file, and also perform quick actions on it.

Text selection

Text selection is now fixed on iOS. It’s as good as using a mouse on the Mac.

New share sheet suggestions

This one is small but amazing. When you share a file, or some text, or anything, the top row of the share sheet is now a suggestions row. It uses machine learning to guess who or what you might want to share with. For instance, share a photo and it might suggest your husband’s iMessage, your mother’s email and so on. Just tap any one to instantly compose the message. This is my No. 1 favorite new feature in iOS 13, at least in terms of annoying taps saved.

Floating keyboard

QuickPath and Apple Pencil with the floating keyboard in iPadOS.
QuickPath and Apple Pencil with the floating keyboard.
Photo: Cult of Mac

It seems ridiculous to have a floating, iPhone-size keyboard on the giant, 13-inch iPad screen, but it’s actually super-handy. The keyboard doesn’t hide half the screen, and it can be used one-handed (or one-thumbed). You can even use the new Swype-like QuickPath entry with an Apple Pencil, which really has to be tried to be appreciated.

The ‘bad’

Not everything is better in iPadOS. Here are a few things that I find worse.

Dark mode

Dark mode is harder to read, doesn’t save any iPad battery, and even if you do like it, there’s no way all the apps you use will update to support it. I have it switched off.

Photos app

Check out the new Photos app editing UI on the right.
Check out the new editing UI on the right.
Photo: Cult of Mac

This is a mixed one. I don’t like the Photos app’s new grid layout. It feels like you’re missing something, like it isn’t the real photo library. On the other hand, the new photo-editing tools are amazing. So, overall I prefer the new Photos app, and I’ll probably get used to the new look.

App Store updates

App updates are now hidden in your App Store account panel (with the upcoming Apple Arcade gaming service taking updates’ old place). It makes sense that valuable storefront space is used to sell more apps, but I don’t like it at all.

What else is new in iOS 13?

There are plenty of other changes in iPadOS and iOS 13, but these are my favorites (and least favorite). I fully expect Shortcuts to leap up this list, but in the current beta, the app’s new features are almost unusable, on my iPad at least.

What’s certain is that iPadOS is fantastic overall, a real upgrade for iPad users. I can’t wait to have it on my regular iPad rather than the spare I’m running the beta on.