A little iPadOS 15 change brings big improvement

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A little iPadOS 15 beta 5 change brings big improvement
App icons are larger and easier to use in iPadOS 15.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Sometimes in life, it’s the little things. iPadOS 15 makes one of those small changes that bring a big result. For the first time, you can increase the size of the application icons on the iPad Home Screen.

This setting debuts in iPadOS 15 beta 5, released on Tuesday. This is one of a few other tweaks in the latest pre-release version.

Icon size matters

For many years, the layout of the iPadOS Home Screen included small application icons somewhat lost in a sea of background image. The situation was especially bad on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. There was an option to increase their size but it came with a major drawback.

On previous iPadOS versions, you can go into Settings > Display & Brightness and switch App Icons to Bigger. But this dropped the number of viewable icons by 50%. The new setting does not have this flaw.

With iPadOS 15, it’s now possible to increase the size of these icons without also pushing anything else off the screen, like widgets. Folders are larger as well, as are the icons in the Dock.

The size difference is about 20% — and it should make using the tablet easier for people with accessibility problems.

Beyond that, everyone can benefit because there’s simply less wasted space on the iPad Home Screen. As proof, there was so much dead space that Apple can make all the app icons 20% larger without having to reduce the number of them to make room.

This is an optional change. This running iPadOS 15 can to Settings > Home Screen & Dock and tap the Use Large Icons toggle.

iPadOS 15 beta 5 does not redesign Safari again

At WWDC, Apple unveiled major changes to the Safari web browser in iPadOS 15, forcing a Tab-based user interface on everyone. Then a later beta modified some of those changes to give tablet users more options. There were other tweaks too.

That’s why it’s so significant that iPadOS 15 beta 5 doesn’t redesign Safari again. There are some changes, though.

As previously noted, tabs for each open web page are inescapable in the browser, and in beta 5 Apple changed their shading to make it clearer which tab is open.

And there are non-Safari changes too. The most important of these is on the Home Screen. A Home Screen with no widgets on it now offers five rows of icons. Add a widget or two and the number drops to four rows.  Previously, the number of rows was always four.

Moving toward release

iPadOS 15 could launch as soon as September, so it was high time Apple stopped tinkering with the design and concentrated on fixing bugs.

Early testing with beta 5 seems to indicate that its less glitchy than its predecessors. That wasn’t true of beta 4 so this could be a sign that Apple putting more of its focus on fixing bugs rather than deciding what Safari should look like.