The iOS for iPad Cycle

It’s hard to understand what Apple’s doing with the iPad. It was “resuscitated” last year with the iPad Pro, and now, almost a year later, it’s barely addressed at WWDC despite every software platform being updated — even the App Stores.

Federico Viticci, of MacStories and iPad-usage fame, might be onto something here, though:

We should be looking at what Apple did earlier this year with iOS 9.3 to understand the future of iOS for iPad.

While major iPad features such as Split View and Picture in Picture shipped with iOS 9.0 in September, iOS 9.3 was another milestone for the iPad in education. A release big enough that it deserved its own mini-site on

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple move from a monolithic iOS release cycle to two major iOS releases in the span of six months – one focused on foundational changes, interface refinements, performance, and iPhone; the other primarily aimed at iPad users in the Spring

If this isn’t the case, it should be. Moreover, I’d say it gives Apple reason to dedicate the Spring keynote to the iPad.

The three-panel Notes and Mail on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the redesigned Apple Music with a vertical music player suggest that Apple has been thinking on how to further optimize their UI for the iPad’s bigger screen. There are still too many instances of the iPad’s interface being an unimaginative and sloppy adaptation of its iPhone counterpart. The few changes in iOS 10 are welcome, and I expect to see more of them across the iPad line.

The key functionality missing from the iPad at this point is drag & drop between apps in Split View. The consensus from people I spoke with at WWDC is that Apple has been laying the groundwork for a proper drag & drop system framework. I’ve always found it odd that Apple hasn’t been pushing for more drag & drop features on iOS – a platform naturally suited for direct manipulation of content. I hope the ability to drag & drop stickers in iMessage threads and the new Safari drag & drop tab behavior are signaling changes coming down the road.

From how things sound, the iPad still seems to have ways to go to even match the Mac’s functionality (or the PC’s for that matter), which I don’t mean to say condescendingly. If Viticci’s right, the rate of improvement from now on should be exciting for iPad users.

Maybe if it one day becomes viable for most Mac and PC users to switch over to the iPad, I believe it will absolutely be for the better, just on principle of there being less “device” to deal with. I think the appeal of a thin glass slab replacing a comparatively analog desktop or laptop with physical, moving parts and multiple input mechanisms (as well as a comparatively confusing file system for most people) is a long-lasting one that I don’t think will die anytime soon.

Source: MacStories