There may not be a new iPad in 2023, so could this be iPadOS' time to shine?
Let's see the software improve first.
In a series of tweets over the weekend, prolific Apple leaker Ming-Chi Kuo spoke about a foldable iPad potentially arriving in 2024, which may mean we'll see no new iPad improvements in terms of hardware this year.
To me, that's great news if it's true because, while iPad hardware continues to go from strength to strength, there's still some work to be done on the software side, which a break from new models could facilitate.
We saw the operating system of the iPad take a change of name from iOS to iPadOS in 2019, bringing external storage support and, with iPadOS 13.2, debuting trackpad support a few months later so you could connect an external mouse to the tablet.
However, we've seen subsequent releases fall behind the rate of innovation we see in iOS. It's understandable on one hand, as the iPhone is Apple's golden goose. But on the other, iPad users have had to wait an extra year for new features, such as widgets on the home screen in iPadOS 15, while they had long since arrived in iOS 14.
It feels as though Stage Manager, debuting at WWDC 2022, should have been a change in fortunes for iPadOS innovation — being a brand new feature with iPad its primary target. But it debuted in a buggy and confusing fashion.
So with the focus on software this year, Apple should drill into iPadOS 17, tweaking iPadOS to make its tablet line a content-creation — not just consumption — range for everyone.
In the past, I've used an iPad as my main machine, using it for everything from college work, to helping me write a book in 2020 during the pandemic. However, its multitasking features have always felt limiting to me, while trackpad support didn't feel as intuitive as it should have.
So when iPadOS 16 was announced at WWDC 2022 with a new way of multitasking in the form of Stage Manager, I was part of the crowd who was enthusiastic about this feature. You could have more than two apps display at once, and if you connected your iPad to an external display, you could have up to six apps at once. While this also debuted with macOS Ventura, Stage Manager on iPad looked like a major step up for multitasking.
But when it came to using it during the public beta season, I ended up feeling frustrated, and that feeling stayed with me even when it was released as part of iPadOS 16.1 to everyone in the fall of 2022. It was confusing when managing windows, and sometimes, the feature would crash entirely, with my iPad having to restart back to the lock screen.
As it stands for iPadOS, this new feature still feels confused. And again, a feature on iOS is ready to be used — lock screen widgets — while they're nowhere to be seen on iPad.
The Magnificent iPadOS Seventeen?
Let's see iPad take a backseat for 2023, and let's see its software debut with refinements across the board instead.
As well as introducing a bunch of lock-screen widgets and great wallpaper collections in iPadOS 17, let's get improvements in Stage Manager, such as getting rid of the invisible grid that snaps apps to certain places on the display.
This could be a huge improvement on its own here, as you're not restricted to where Apple wants you to place these apps in Stage Manager.
And while we're at it, let's see some of those widgets on iPadOS finally display your fitness info from your Apple Watch. Seeing those three rings on the lock screen or home screen on that big, beautiful iPad Pro display would be a great time saver, and just makes more sense instead of having to check your iPhone or Watch face for this.
Building on this potential, let's also see Control Center be part of the multitasking tray when you're switching between apps (in the overview when you drag up from the bottom of the screen), and not just have it show on its own. It looks odd on an iPad mini, and ridiculous on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Expanded Control Center features, such as more accessibility toggles, wouldn't go amiss either.
These will only make me use my iPad Pro more, and even consider an iPad mini in time. The tablet has a place for everyone, it just needs more refinement to make it that perfect middle-ground between an iPhone and a Mac.
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Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.
Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider (opens in new tab)', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.