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(Pocket-lint) - Apple releases one major software update each year for iPhone, iPad and Watch, with several smaller updates throughout the year. 

The next major update for iPad is iPadOS 15. You can read more about iOS 15 for iPhone in our separate feature, but here are all the features Apple revealed at WWDC 21 for iPadOS 15.

iPadOS 15 release date

  • Previewed June 2021
  • Release September 2021

Apple presented a preview of its next software update for iPad during its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June, though the final software isn't expected to be released to devices until the "fall". This typically means September.

At the moment, there is no specific date for iPadOS 15's release, though if traditional - pre 2020 - patterns are followed, we'd expect the software to be released to public in the beginning of September.

A developer beta for iPadOS 15 is available already - released on 7 June, while the public beta is due in July.

iPadOS 15 features

Here are all the features announced for iPadOS 15.

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    Multitasking

    There are a number of multitasking features coming to iPad with iPadOS 15, including a new multitasking menu that sits at the top of apps, allowing you to enter Split View, Slide Over, full screen and Center Window with a tap. There's also a new multiwindow shelf that will give you quick access to all open windows for an app.

    iPadOS 15 also sees improvements to the App Switcher to help with multitasking. You can drag one app over another to create a Split View space, while you'll also get access to Slide Over apps from the App Switcher. Center Window lets you touch and hold in certain apps, like on an email or note, to open it in the middle of a Split View screen without having to leave the screen.

    Notifications

    Notifications in iPadOS 15 have larger icons for apps and contact photos for people, along with a Notification Summary. The Notification Summary will collect all non-time-sensitive notifications and deliver them at a more convinient time, such as morning, evening, or a time you select.

    There are also muting suggestions and you can choose to mute any app or message thread for the day, next hour or temporarily. 

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    Widgets

    As rumoured, iPadOS 15 brings Widgets to the iPad, allowing you to place Widgets among apps on your home screen, as you can on iPhone. There are some extra large widgets designed for iPad and there are also some new options coming, including a Find My widget, Mail widget and Contacts widget.

    You'll also be able to reorder the widgets in Smart Stacks with new controls in iPadOS 15 and suggested widgets for apps you already use can automatically appear in Smart Stacks at the appropriate time, based on your past activity, with an option to add them if you want to.

    App Library

    Stealing another feature from iPhone, iPadOS 15 brings the App Library to iPad, giving you one single place to access all your iPad apps, organised into categories like Productivity and Games.

    You will be able to get quick access to the App Library from the dock and you can reorder Home Pages, as well as Hide Home Pages.

    AppleApple iPadOS 15 release date, features and more photo 6

    Notes

    There are a host of changes coming to Notes with iPadOS 15, including Tags - helping you to categorise and organise notes, and Mentions - for helping you notify collaborators of shared notes that there are some important updates.

    There's also a Tag Browser in the sidebar so you can tap any tag or tags to see notes with those tags in and Custom Smart Folders will automatically collect notes in one place, based on their tags. 

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    Meanwhile, a new Activity View lets you see what changes have been made to a shared note, while a Highlight view lets you swipe right anywhere on a note to reveal edit times and changes. You'll also be able to combine images and handwriting in a handwritten note.

    Reminders

    Like with Notes, tags are coming to Reminders too in iPadOS 15, helping you organise them and make it easier to search and filter them. There's a Tag Browser in the sidebar to tap any tag or tags and see Reminders relating to them, and you can create Custom Smart Lists too that automatically include Reminders by selecting certain tags, dates, times, locations, flags and priority.

    You'll also be able to access quick options to delete completed Reminders and Siri will be able to announce reminders when you're wearing AirPods or Beats headphones.

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    Quick Note

    Quick Note is a new feature in iPadOS 15 designed for when you want to quickly jot something down, like a number for example. It can be accessed from anywhere in the system, while you're using any app, by a swipe of your finger or Apple Pencil from the bottom corner of your screen.

    You can write or sketch and the size of the Quick Note can be adjusted. You'll also be able to add links from an app or website and a thumbnail of the Quick Note will appear in the corner when you return to remind you of what you noted down previously.

    Maps

    Maps in iPadOS 15 includes an interactive globe, along with more details for some cities, like elevation, roads, buildings and landmarks. There's also new driving features that show things like pedestrian crosswalks and bus lanes, and the transit map has been redesigned too.

    You'll also find your frequently used settings in one place, along with improved search, such as filtering by cuisine or restaurants that are open at the time of search.

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    FaceTime

    FaceTime is getting a big update with iPadOS 15, and iOS 15. Spatial Audio is coming to the video calling app, along with Portrait mode, grid view, calendar integration, zoom, mute alerts and a feature called SharePlay to allow you to watch, listen and share apps to experience things together.

    There is also FaceTime Links, allowing you to share a link with anyone to invite them to join a FaceTime call. This can be done through a web browser on an Android or Windows device so friends and family can join in even if they don't have an iPhone or iPad.

    iPadOS 15 also introduces Voice Isolation mode that blocks out ambient noise to help your voice sound clearer, while Wide Spectrum mode brings in all the sounds in the room.

    Photos

    As with iOS 15, Photos gets a revamp in iPadOS 15 in terms of its Memories feature. Apple Music is being integrated with Memories, with song suggestions based on your tastes, as well as what is in your photos and videos, and a feature called Memory Mixes lets you hear different songs with pacing and a memory look to match.

    There's also an interactive interface so you can change out photos and videos easily, and there are new memory types too, including child-focused memories and trends over time.

    Other Photos features in iPadOS 15 include a richer infomation pane for photos, improved people recognition for the People album and Suggest Less Often that lets you tell Photos you want to see less of a specific date, holiday, or place, for example.

    Shared with You

    A Shared with You feature is coming with iPadOS 15 that sees content sent to you through Messages appear in the corresponding app so it's more accessible. The feature will work in Photos, Safari, Apple TV, Apple News, Apple Music and Apple Podcasts. 

    You will be able to pin particularly interesting content so it is elevated in the Shared with You sections.

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    Focus

    A new feature called Focus in iPadOS 15 allows you to automatically filter notifications based on what you are doing. You can select from one of the standard Focus options - Do Not Disturb, Personal, Work, Sleep - or you can create a custom Focus.

    You will be able to set allowed interruptions so that important notifications can get through, and you can also set specific Home Screens for each focus to reduce tempations. If you set a Focus on one Apple device, it will set it across all your Apple devices.

    Find My

    Updates to the Find My app in iPadOS 15 includes live locations for family and friends that you share your location with, offering continuous streaming updates. There's also a Find My widget, and Find My Network support for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, allowing you to get within Bluetooth range so you can play a sound to locate them.

    Additionally, iPadOS 15 brings Separation Alerts so if you leave a device, AirTag or compatible third-party item behind in a unfamiliar location, you will be notified.

    Privacy

    Privacy updates with iPadOS 15 include an App Privacy Report that shows you how often apps have accessed your camera, location, microphone, photos and contacts during the previous seven days, as well as showing you what other domains they have contacted.

    There's also secure paste and developers can let you share your location with a customisable button in their apps. There are also some privacy updates to Mail where you mail senders will be prevented from learning information about your Mail activity, such as when you have opened an email. Your IP address will also be hidden so it can't be used to build a profile on you.

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    Safari

    There's a streamlined tab bar for Safari in iPadOS 15, along with other features like pull to refresh - allowing you to pull down from the top to refresh a page, voice search, web extensions, automatic upgrade to HTTPS for sites known to support it, and a customisable start page.

    You'll also find tab groups, allowing you to save and organise tabs in a way that works for you and switching between them using the side-bar or drop-down menu.

    Universal Control

    A feature called Universal Control on iPadOS 15 will allow you to use a single keyboard, mouse or trackpad between devices. No setup will be required and the feature will allow you to move your cursor from your Mac to your iPad, for example, as well as drag and drop content between devices.

    The Universal Control feature will work with up to three devices.

    External Keyboard

    For iPadOS 15, the keyboard menu bar has a new look, packing the same functionality into a smaller space. There's also a new view for the keyboard shortcuts view, with shortcuts categorised by things like File, Edit, Format, View and Search.

    There will also be additional keyboard shortcuts across apps and you'll be able to navigate apps using the keyboard for better productivity.

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    Live Text

    A feature called Live Text is coming with iPadOS 15 that makes text in a photo interactive. It means you can use functions like copy, paste, look up and translate, allowing you to call a number in a photo for example. Live Text works in Safari, Screenshot, Quick Look and Photos. 

    As an extension of Live Text, there is also a Visual Look Up feature that lets you learn more about a photo in an image for example, learn the breed of a dog or find out information about a popular landmark.

    Spotlight Search

    Spotlight Search has been improved for iPadOS 15, offering one result for all the information you might be looking for. There's also lock screen access, improved App Store search where you can download an app without leaving Spotlight, and support for web image search.

    Other improvements include Spotlight using information from Photos to enable searching your full library by location, people, scenes, or even specific things in a photo, like a dog or a car.

    iCloud+

    iPadOS 15 brings an extension of iCloud with iCloud+, offering a number of features, including the ability to hide your email and connect more security cameras with HomeKit Secure Video. There's also a iCloud Private Relay feature that lets you connect virtually to any network and browse with Safari in a more private way.

    iCloud+ also lets you personalise your iCloud Mail email address with a custom domain name and invite family members to use the same domain with their iCloud email address.

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    Translate

    iPadOS 15 brings Translate to iPad, with all the same features as iPhone, along with extra ones including handwriting with Apple Pencil and the ability to open Translate in Split View. There's also an Auto Translate feature that automatically detects when you start speaking, an offline mode and a conversation mode.

    Siri

    There are a number of updates to Siri with iPadOS 15, including offline support for requests like timers, alarms, controlling audio playback and messaging. All audio requests will be processed entirely on your iPad with iPadOS 15, and there are improvements to speech recognition and understanding. 

    Other updates to Siri include the ability to refer to contacts onscreen to use as context for sending a message or placing a call, as well as the ability to maintain context and share things onscreen. Siri can also announce notifications when wearing AirPods or Beats headphones and Announce Messages in CarPlay.

    Siri Shortcuts

    Siri Shortcuts will automatically sync across iPhone, iPad and Mac with iPadOS 15 and there's improved sharing too so it is easier to download a Shortcut and use it yourself, or share a link for someone else to do the same.

    There's also a Next Action Suggestions feature that helps you complete a shortcut you are building.

    Voice memos

    For those that use Apple's Voice Memos app, iPadOS 15 will bring the option to speed up or slow down the playback of Voice Memo recordings. The app will also analyse recordings and skip over gaps in your audio with a tap.

    It will also be possible to share multiple Voice Memos at once.

    Anything else?

    Yes, we've only detailed the main features coming to your iPad with iPadOS 15 above. There are plenty more smaller updates across the board that we have listed some of below to give you an idea of what else you can expect to change with the new software.

    • Accessibility updates
    • In-app events in the App Store
    • App Store widget
    • Advanced fraud protection on Apple Card
    • Option to add Account Recovery Contacts to regain access to Apple ID
    • Option to add Legacy Contact to gain access to your information if you die 
    • Redesigned search for iBooks
    • Enhanced 5G connectivity 
    • 5G preferred over Wi-Fi
    • Package detection for HomeKit Secure Video
    • Keyboard improvements
    • Memoji updates
    • Redesigned News feed
    • Built-in authenticator for passwords
    • Personalised Podcast recommendations
    • On demand downtime for Screen Time

    iPadOS 15 what we still want to see

    While some of these are probably unlikely, and while others sound like we basically want macOS on iPad, these are all the features we'd still like to see come to iPadOS 15 that haven't been announced yet:

    • Support for multiple users (oh pretty please)
    • Support for multiple windows in multi-tasking
    • Files app more like Finder on macOS
    • Support for multiple desktops like macOS
    • Better external monitor support
    • Final Cut Pro

    iPadOS 15 compatibility: Will my iPad support iPadOS 15?

    Apple has confirmed the following iPads will support iPadOS 15:

    • iPad Pro 12.9 (5th gen)
    • iPad Pro 11 (3rd gen)
    • iPad Pro 12.9 (4th gen)
    • iPad Pro 11 (2nd gen)
    • iPad Pro 12.9 (3rd gen)
    • iPad Pro 11 (1st gen)
    • iPad Pro 12.9 (2nd gen)
    • iPad Pro 12.9 (1st gen)
    • iPad Pro 10.5
    • iPad Pro 9.7
    • iPad (8th gen)
    • iPad (7th gen)
    • iPad (6th gen)
    • iPad (5th gen)
    • iPad mini (5th gen)
    • iPad mini 4
    • iPad Air (4th gen)
    • iPad Air (3rd gen)
    • iPad Air 2

    iPadOS 15 rumours: What's happened so far?

    Here are all the rumours related to iPadOS 15.

    7 June 2021: Apple preview what is coming to iPad with iPadOS 15

    Apple revealed some of the features coming to iPad with a preview of iPadOS 15 during its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).

    22 April 2021: iPadOS 15 to bring redesign of Home Screen and lock screen

    Reliable Apple reporter Mark Gurman of Bloomberg claimed iPadOS 15 will be the most significant update so far and will come with a redesigned home screen, lock screen and notifications. 

    February 2021: iPadOS 15 could drop support for models with A9 chip 

    iPhoneSoft reported on some of the iPhone models not expected to be compatible with iOS 15. It's said Apple will drop support for models with the A9 chip and lower, suggesting it may do the same for iPad. 

    Writing by Britta O'Boyle.