iOS 13 and iPadOS aren't officially arriving in final polished versions until the fall, but public betas are here now to download and try on your own devices. Be forewarned, these betas are buggy, and works in progress. Our advice: Don't install on your main device. But I've tried both iOS 13 and iPadOS betas, and here are some things worth noting.
iPadOS (left) now has a different name than iOS 13 (right), but the iPad has already had a different-feeling OS for years. iOS 13's features are in iPadOS, plus iPadOS has a bunch more extras.
For instance: iOS 13 and iPadOS both have the new Photos app, which aims to make everything look even more like a living photo book. It's pretty, but how well it machine-learns my photo library remains to be seen.
The new Maps app, on both iPadOS and iOS 13, has Dark Mode, grouped Collections for favorite locations, and Google Street View-like mode called Look Around that is, for now, only available when when browsing San Francisco.
Dark Mode is everywhere: It's Apple's way of making apps easier to look at in the dark. Some people like the aesthetic. Sometimes it's too much, but it's great that it can be toggled in settings.
Dark Mode has a handful of new wallpapers that change their color schemes slightly in light and dark modes... can you tell the difference?
Toggling Dark Mode in settings also allows automatic shifts at night, which is the best way to do Dark Mode (or you could make a custom schedule).
The main keyboard has swipe now! It's called... I forget what it's called. But it doesn't matter, because you'll call it swipe. (You can download a third-party keyboard to do this too, but now you don't have to.)
The Camera app now has fantastic video editing tools. Videos can be cropped and flipped and turned from landscape to portrait, which will be a huge help.
There are more Memoji extras and avatar decorations, if you use Memoji. There are three new Animoji (including an octopus). But what I may use more are the Memoji stickers, which generate little reactions to send in messages. Not original, but hey.
A closer look at virtual me doing stuff.
Maps wants to be even more useful, but a lot of it feels familiar. More to come as I drive with it.
Siri has a new voice, and it sounds better. But how much smarter is Siri now? So far, it's not easy to judge.
Voice Control is a groundbreaking way to totally hands-free operate an iPhone or iPad with just voice. It's in Accessibility settings, if you're curious. But the feature listens all the time, and has a specific set of commands you'll need to know.
The iPad makes a greater leap in iPadOS, but you'll need to look closely. Widgets now live on the home screen, finally.
The Widgets stay stuck to the left side of the screen, and only stick to the first page of the home screen. But it's a start.
Safari now has more Mac, PC and Chromebook-like browsing. And yes, it can handle Google Apps and Google Docs. I can finally track changes in the browser.
Flash drives, SD cards and hard drives can work with USB-C or with dongles or Lightning adapters. Files can now be read in Apple's Files app. It's not the same as using an external drive on a PC, but it helps.
The Pencil's lag is reduced and it's noticeable. For fast scribbling and writing, it's great.
Annotation and markup is more supported across iPadOS, and apps can switch between marking up a screenshot and marking up the whole document. It's cool to try with web pages.
That being said, I wish annotations could be converted to text from my terrible handwriting.
Will this make me use the Pencil more? We'll see.
PencilKit tools will be more widespread to third-party apps in the fall, but we can't test that yet.
More apps can have side-by-side split-screen windows: Maps, for instance. I want this in Google Docs and Pages.
The funky Slide Over tool, which almost feels like a virtual iPhone living inside the iPad, pops up and shows a floating smaller display. Now that display can have multiple windows and swap apps easily. It's kind of weird but helpful?
Can we talk mouse support, please? Yes, you can use a mouse with iPadOS! No, it's not what you think.
Apple enabled mouse support in Accessibility settings as an alternative to touching the screen. It's not meant for everyday use: It only has one large cursor, supports mostly one button clicks, and when editing text, the on-screen keyboard pops up. Just FYI. I won't be using it much for my needs.
I'd love to see deeper, fuller trackpad and mouse support in iPadOS 2. Maybe next year.