3 features iPadOS 18 needs to make up for another predictable year for iPad software

iPadOS 17 and Stage Manager being used outside, with dog in background
(Image credit: iMore)

iPadOS is getting increasingly easy to predict these days. A new multitasking format here, a few of last year's iPhone features there, and you've got yourself an updated tablet OS that powers the best-selling tablet lineup in the world.

That's not to say we're not happy with it though — iPad as an ecosystem will always have its caveats vs, say, a Mac, but there's still plenty to like about it, and it genuinely improves each year.

As an example, look at Stage Manager. Apple's multitasking solution debuted with iPadOS 16 but felt hamstrung by a variety of constraints.

A new multitasking paradigm for power users it was not. Still, with the removal (or at least lessening) of many of its limitations, it grew into a much more useful experience for many.

With this in mind, here's a wishlist of the three features I want to see in iPadOS 18.

Multiuser support

macOS Sonoma Lock Screen

(Image credit: Future / Apple)

We've been asking for this almost as long as the iPad has been around. Still, it feels like a major consideration for anyone looking to share an iPad with their family, or for educational purposes.

Despite this, though, there is no way to set up your iPad on a per-user basis, meaning you still have to share apps, logins, photos, and much more. That's a big problem if you want to use the tablet for work, with specialized apps and potentially confidential information.

Only you can decide whether this would be a big feature for you — but for this writer, I'd love to share my iPad with my partner so she can do some shopping or browse the web without digging out her laptop.

Will it happen? Time will tell, but it's long overdue.

Even better external display support

Wwdc 2022 Ipados 16 External Monitor

(Image credit: Apple)

Credit where it's due, Apple has finally realized (perhaps spurred on by the move to working from home) that people quite like the idea of working on external monitors - and not only the company's own pricey options.

While we once had the option to mirror a display to an external screen, we can now extend the workspace on compatible iPads.

That's one of my favorite features, and one I really want to see from the iPad mini, but a major drawback is the lack of 'clamshell mode' support like you'd find in a laptop.

With iPadOS 18, I want to be able to plug in my iPad Pro and have the Magic Keyboard closed so I can still interact with an external monitor using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse combo.

A big update to the Files experience

Files app on iPhone and iPad

(Image credit: Future / Apple)

Look, file managers aren't sexy. It's not the kind of update that's going to make anyone rush out and buy an iPad.

And yet, an overhauled Files experience would make it much easier to use things like Final Cut and Logic which debuted this year. 

Imagine an updated Spotlight search that lets you grab an item and drop it straight onto a Final Cut timeline without jumping into the Files app.

With USB-C becoming the standard across iPhones, too, there's the potential for Apple to make it much easier to use peripherals across both platforms. 

As a writer, I need to create and save images to upload elsewhere, and what takes me under a minute on the Mac still takes much longer on an iPad. Once that friction is removed, there's every chance I'll move over full-time.

While I'm griping about the Files app, can we please get a fresh app icon? It's a small touch, but YouTuber Christopher Lawley noted just how boring it is recently and now I can't unsee how it's just very flat. A small issue, sure, but where's that Apple pizazz?

Lloyd Coombes
Contributor

Lloyd Coombes is a freelance writer with a specialism in Apple tech. From his first, hand-me-down iMac, he’s been working with Apple products for over a decade, and while he loves his iPhone and Mac, the iPad will always have his heart for reasons he still can’t quite fathom.

Since moving from blogging to writing professionally, Lloyd’s work can be found at TechRadar, Macworld, TechAdvisor and plenty more.

He’s also the Editor in Chief at GGRecon.com, and on the rare occasion he’s not writing you’ll find him spending time with his son, or working hard at the gym (while wearing an Apple Watch, naturally). You can find him on Twitter @lloydcoombes.