iPadOS arrives with the killer iPad features we’ve been craving

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iPadOS launch date
Beta testing is over. iPadOS 13.1 can be installed on any recent Apple tablet.
Photo: Apple

iPadOS 13.1 is now available, ready to be installed on a wide variety of iPad models. It brings features Apple tablet users have long been asking for: allowing applications to open multiple windows, support for mice, full access to USB drives, and much more.

This new version was announced in June and has been in beta testing all summer so there are no surprises. But the time for testing is over. Almost everyone with an iOS tablet made in the past five years can install iPadOS.

Don’t be confused that this is iPadOS 13.1, despite being the first version with this name. It’s been forked off of iOS 13.1 so Apple decided to keep the same version number. And you didn’t miss iPadOS 13 — that version was never released to the public, just beta testers.

Big changes in iPadOS

One of the major changes allows applications to open multiple windows. This improved version of Split View will enable software like Apple Pages to display two word processing documents side by side, or multiple Notes simultaneously. However, not all of Apple’s own offerings supports this feature yet, and the same is certainly true of third-party apps.

With iPadOS, tablets can not only read files on removable drives connected to the USB-C or Lightning port, but copy files as well. The Files app shows the full contents of flashdrives and other USB drives.

A feature many have been requesting for almost a decade is finally available: mouse support. These can be connected via Bluetooth or through a USB-C or Lightning port.

The Safari web browser has been rewritten to bring it nearly equal to the macOS version.  And iPadOS borrows from Android OS to allow widgets to appear on the home screen.

There are so many important new features that Cult of Mac published an editorial called “iPadOS shuts up all those ‘not a real computer’ claims.”

Tablets that support iPadOS

According to Apple, the following devices can all install its new tablet operating system:

  • iPad (7th generation)
  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro
  • 11-inch iPad Pro
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Air 2

Get iPadOS now

Upgrading an iPad is as easy as it has been for many years, with two possible methods. One is to connect the handset to a computer running iTunes.

The other method involves doing over-the-air update directly to the tablet. It’s as simple as opening the Settings app then going to General > Software Update > Download and Install.