iPadOS gives Apple's tablets their own operating system

Adios, iOS: A new strategy to make the tablet a true laptop replacement.

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Justin Jaffe is the Managing Editor for CNET Money. He has more than 20 years of experience publishing books, articles and research on finance and technology for Wired, IDC and others. He is the coauthor of Uninvested (Random House, 2015), which reveals how financial services companies take advantage of customers -- and how to protect yourself. He graduated from Skidmore College with a B.A. in English Literature, spent 10 years in San Francisco and now lives in Portland, Maine.
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  • Coauthor of Uninvested (Random House, 2015)
Justin Jaffe
2 min read

Apple has introduced iPadOS -- a dedicated operating system for the iPad that brings a host of new capabilities to its tablet. Announced Monday at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, iPadOS strengthens the iPad's productivity capabilities and nudges it closer to fulfilling its potential as a full-fledged laptop replacement. 

Apple will release the new operating system this fall as a free software update for the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini (released earlier this year), all the iPad Pros, the 2017 iPad, the 2018 iPad and the iPad Mini 4

In the past, the company used its iOS mobile operating system to power both the iPhone and iPad, which sometimes required compromises. Now, the iPhone will move to iOS 13, also announced today, while the iPad will get its own operating system, allowing it to more fully inhabit its nature as a tablet. 

To that end, iPadOS includes a new Home screen layout, enhanced multitasking features and new user interface gestures for cutting, copying, pasting and undoing actions. In addition to a number of new features that are also coming to iOS, including a system-wide dark mode and a new floating keyboard, iPadOS gives the company's tablets a few exclusives: expanded Apple Pencil functionality, improved file management and a new version of Safari that will make for a more desktoplike Internet browsing experience. 

Prior to the start of today's keynote, the company appeared to scoop itself, revealing the existence of iPadOS on its developer portal.

Read more: Current-generation iPad 9.7 drops to $240

WWDC is where Apple details its newest software and services that will arrive on devices later in the year. The company may be best known for its hardware, but the seamless integration of its hardware with its software is what sets Apple apart from rivals. Apple's ability to control every aspect of its products -- something that began when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in 1976 -- has been key in making it the most powerful company in tech.

WWDC 2019: A quick visual recap of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote

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The event comes as software and services are taking on even greater importance for Apple. The company still sells millions of iPhones every quarter, but sales aren't soaring like they used to. People are holding onto their devices for longer, which makes it important to give them services that get them paying monthly. Apple has made augmented reality, mobile payments, streaming music and other areas itno key focuses over the past couple of years.

Read more: 6 new uses for your old iPad

The company last week said it has 20 million developers in its Apple developer Program, and it's made more than $120 billion selling digital goods and services in App Store apps. Apple also touted the creation of over 1.5 million jobs in the US and over 1.57 million across Europe.

See all of today's Apple news.

CNET's Shara Tibken contributed to this story.