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  • Writer's pictureSTR Nexus

iPadOS 17 Beta: Enhancing the iPad Experience

The evolution of the iPad may not be dramatic each year, but it continues to progress steadily. The latest installment of iPadOS, expected to be officially released in the fall, is now available in public beta for download. As someone who has been using it on an M1 iPad Air, I can attest to the pleasant experience and immediate benefits it brings.

iPadOS 17 Beta

It's worth noting that downloading beta software does carry some risks, so it's crucial to back up your device and data before proceeding. However, beta software is becoming more standard across all platforms, though it's still wise to wait for the final, more stable version later in the year. Improved iPad Multitasking: iPadOS 17 introduces significant improvements to Stage Manager, Apple's multitasking system. In the previous version (iPadOS 16), Stage Manager felt restrictive when arranging multiple app windows on the iPad, except when connected to an external monitor. However, in iPadOS 17, the limitations have been eased, allowing for more fluid management of app windows. You can now effortlessly drag and stagger apps, adjusting them from narrow panes to larger panels and almost full-screen options. The clutter from the Stage Manager dock and Apple's iOS app dock has also been minimized, offering a cleaner and more efficient multitasking experience, particularly on an 11-inch iPad. While Stage Manager's external monitor features require an M1- or M2-equipped iPad, the on-iPad Stage Manager function is limited to iPad Pro models and the M1 iPad Air. Enhanced Lock Screens and Widgets: The iPad now benefits from the upgraded lock screens introduced for the iPhone in the previous year. While these lock screens may not be as essential on the iPad, they still provide an improved user experience. Widgets on the Home screen are also more functional, offering interactive controls for various apps on a larger canvas compared to the iPhone. Although some widget controls might not work as smoothly on the iPadOS 17 public beta, the larger and more app-like widgets contribute to a more fluid experience. Additionally, there's hope for the integration of the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island feature in some form, providing useful readouts for notifications. Health App on iPad: One surprising addition to iPadOS 17 is the inclusion of the Health app, which has been available on iPhones for some time. The iPad version works similarly to its iPhone counterpart, providing users with a larger canvas to access medical and fitness information, track medications, and gain valuable insights. The new Mood logging feature allows users to record their feelings and tag relevant associations, similar to other health platforms like Fitbit. It's important to note that while the Health app is available on the iPad, it does not pair with the Apple Watch. However, an iPhone paired with the Apple Watch can relay data, and the Health app should display relevant details like heart rate, blood oxygen levels, fertility tracking, and sleep. Nonetheless, the Apple Watch's activity ring information and achievements are not accessible on the iPad. Other Features and Accessibility: iPadOS 17 also brings various hidden features, such as improved PDF support, making it easier to view and annotate PDFs in the Notes app. Filling out PDF forms has also become less cumbersome, simplifying the process of signing documents and medical forms. Apple's Stickers, previously limited to the Messages app, have now expanded across the OS. Users can easily turn photos into stickers and create personalized collections, including animated ones from Live Photos. Additionally, an assistive-focused feature called Personal Voice is included in the Accessibility settings. This feature allows users to replicate their own voice through AI synthesis, which can be useful in situations where speaking might not be possible. However, this feature may still have some early beta issues. A Gradual Step Forward: While iPadOS 17 may not be revolutionary, it brings a stable and valuable set of new features. It adds to the ever-growing capabilities of iPadOS, positioning the iPad as an essential link within an interconnected ecosystem of computers, phones, VR, and AR. As VisionOS continues to blend the iPad experience with mixed reality and further integration with Macs, the future of the iPad becomes increasingly exciting. However, in 2023, the focus is on refining and enhancing the iPad experience, making it better in all the right places. The ongoing evolution may eventually blur the lines between devices, ultimately leading to a seamless and cohesive user experience.

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