What I Want to See in iOS 10 for iPad

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 5 min read

iOS 9 was a good release for the iPhone, but it was a great release for the iPad. Split screen support, enhanced Bluetooth keyboard features, and picture-in-picture really made it a more powerful machine. These features in conjunction with some great app updates over the past few months have really made the iPad is a serious workhorse.

That being said, there are quite a few things that need to get better with the operating system for it to achieve its true potential of the desktop OS killer that it is destined to be. We're a good half year from seeing what Apple will actually deliver in the next version of iOS, but here are what I want to see from iOS 10 for the iPad.

A richer home screen

The iPad gets a lot of grief for its home screen UI. It's just a big grid of icons at its core, and that gets people upset. That simplicity is a feature that Apple should hold onto, but there are little things they could do to make that home screen a little richer.

First, they should really let you add more icons to the screen. There's no reason the 8 inch iPad mini and the 13 inch iPad Pro have the exact same icon capacity and layout. There is an image going around the net showing that there are more pixels between each icon than there were on the entire width of the first iPhone. It's a fun view that shows "how far we've come" but it's also a little embarrassing that all that space is being wasted.

   <img src="" alt="Cheap mockup, but you get the idea :) "/> Cheap mockup, but you get the idea :)  

Second, maybe they could do something with the 10 and 13 inch iPads where the right edge of the screen can be used to show the Today view, Spotlight, or notifications when viewing the screen in landscape. There is more than enough space to do this, and it could be very useful. They could go even more crazy and let you run an entire app over there that's always running and all your other actions take pace on the left side of the screen. Just a thought.

There are surely more things they an do in this space, but I hope Android fans aren't holding their breaths for widgets.

Drag-and-drop between apps

This seems like low-hanging fruit, and it's something we really first saw in Microsoft's ill-fated Courier tablet, but it could be a big addition to iOS. Imagine composing a presentation in PowerPoint and dragging in images from your Photos app on the other half of the screen. Or how about dragging links from Safari over to your text editor to create a link? Maybe even grabbing audio loops from a Dropbox folder and pulling them into your music composer. The possibilities are nearly endless.

I would think this could be an addition to the current extensions framework. 3D Touch seems all too obvious a choice as well for the user interaction model. Tap and hold on something to bring up the share sheet, but press down on an object to make it drag-able and then pull it across to the other app. Obviously this would require all new iPads to work, but maybe Apple is clever enough to make this work on the current hardware.

Split screen apps in iOS 9 are great, but they still feel a little siloed off from one another. This would bring those apps more closely together and make many workflows easier on the iPad.

Split view for more apps (up to 4)

Expanding on the split view concept, I think Apple could go a little further will allowing more apps on screen at a time. The iPad Pro in particular is huge and could handle 4 apps on screen at a time. Split the screen into top-left, top-right, bottom-left, and bottom-right and you could have a ton of stuff going on at once. We know that the current split-screen feature requires 2GB RAM, so maybe this would be only on 4GB devices and up, but I bet some of those users would be very appreciative.

Additionally, I think certain apps would benefit from being able to have two instances of themselves running side-by-side. Safari is a great example, where I may want to browse 2 sites at the same time. THe current implementation doesn't allow for this, but it would be a very nice addition, even if not all apps have permission to do this.

Better split-view interface

Picking a second app you want to have on screen is a huge chore on iOS 9 and needs to get better. You can only see 3 apps on screen at a time, which makes no sense at all. They're the world's largest touch targets, and I really don't know that Apple was thinking with this interface. Just fix it for next year, Apple.

Better file management

This one is more nebulous and I don't have a specific solution for them, but I think it is important for Apple to continue to address. I certainly don't want Apple to bring a full Finder-like file manager to iOS, but they do need to enable people to have more control over their files. iOS 9's iCloud Drive app and third party file storage integratios are steps in the right direction, but they need to keep cranking on this until it's perfect.

More "proactive" features

Apple got a good thing going with their new "proactive" features in iOS 9. I have found the suggestions for who it expects me to text/call and apps I want to use next to be pretty spot on. More of this, please!

Default app settings

We've been asking for this for years, and it seems almost like it's never coming. But hey, why not ask for it again?

I want to use Chrome for internet, Spark for email, and OmniFocus for reminders. It isn't a huge pain to use these apps now, but it would be a little nicer if iOS would respect my choices and show me the app I want to use when performing these actions.

Multiple user accounts

Almost everyone I know with an iPad considers it a family device. It's passed from husband to wife to kids, and it's the same experience no matter who has it. Here's an example of how my wife and my sharing of 1 iPad is problematic.

We need to have 2 Twitter apps installed so that I can view my timeline and she can view her's. She gets the official Twitter app and I get Tweetbot. She also gets priority over the Twitter share integration, so I can't share things to Twitter from share sheets on the iPad even though that's incredibly convenient. My workaround is to use Buffer, but their interface is not as nice, and it all feels a little too much like I'm working against the system instead of with it.

Additionally, Facebook is all her's since there are no third party Facebook apps. Our Pages documents are shred, and only my Apple Music library is on the device, not her's. It also means that the home screen is a compromise of what apps I think should be there and which ones she needs there. We're pretty awesome people overall (just sayin), so we don't get upset about this stuff, but it should be much better.

We shared a MacBook for a few months back a couple years and it was a much better experience. We each had our own user accounts and our interactions with the computer were all our own. This is the convenience Apple needs to introduce into iOS.

Apple now has 3 iPads in their lineup, and one of them has “Pro” in the name. Tim Cook has also raised the question why you would bother buying a PC over an iPad anymore. I understand that the Pro name is marketing, and Cook’s statements about PCs is a CEO trying to hype up his new product, but I don’t think it’s just hot air. Apple gave the iPad a lot more power this year and I expect they’ll bring even more power to it next year. I'd be over the moon if Apple did everything I want, but I'm not delusional enough to think any set of November iOS predictions will all pan out. But no matter what Apple is planning for iOS 10, expect the iPad to get a lot of attention. After that the question becomes how quickly app developers take advantage of these new features.