Well, well, well. The 2017 WWDC has come and gone and much that iPad users hoped for has been announced. As far as I’m concerned Apple hit it out of the park. If the features announced work as well as they look then I will be very happy and more productive. While no operating system is ever really finished with iOS 11 we see the most significant complaints about the iPad being addressed. Perhaps the two most significant of these were lack of a user accessible file system and the lack of drag and drop. Not only will iOS 11 have both of these but Apple has implemented each of them in ways that are fully featured and in some ways may well surpass the abilities of the Mac. I’m really looking forward to trying the new features. I’ve been getting along very well without them but I don’t doubt that they will come in handy for some tasks and workflows.
The new Files app looks pretty great. I use DropBox as my primary file system these days so having that integrated along iCloud and local documents will be great.
Drag and drop in iOS goes beyond what we have on a Mac because it’s multi-touch. On a Mac I can select multiple files on the desktop or in a folder and drag to a new location or a new mail message. With iOS 11 I can select multiple items from multiple folders and apps and drag and drop to multiple locations. Finger ninjas will be able to select an image from Safari, text from Safari, and the url of Safari all in one go and then drag to a destination or multiple destinations to drop them. This will require a bit of practice but I imagine it will be really powerful when mastered.
The new dock is going to be far more useful as it will now hold far more apps and will have added functionality with a contextual menu for recently used documents as well as the swiping up action to bring an app into a multi-tasking window. But what about adding an app to the multi-tasking that isn’t in the dock? Well, luckily, we will be able to use Spotlight for that. I’m already in the habit of opening all my apps from Spotlight so being able to drag one down from Spotlight to a multi-tasking window will be a welcome addition.
Paired apps in spaces will probably be very nice too though I’m curious about how it will work to have apps paired up and how easy it will be to change those pairings. I use split view a good bit and will likely use it even more with the 12.9" but I don’t necessarily have two apps that I consistently use together with the exception of the Podcast App which I use with Pages to do podcast transcripts for a couple of clients.
Notes is getting some nifty new features. Document scanning and inline notes/sketching look great. The new bits with Apple Pencil will come in handy I suspect. I don’t do a lot of work that requires mark-up or screenshots but on occasion it comes in handy.
There are so many other goodies coming for both iPad and iPhone. With iOS 11 it’s obvious that Apple has no plans to back-track on the iPad. The above notes are just the most obvious for those of us using iPads everyday. Any notion that the iPad is not a fully capable computer for most people should really be put to rest at this point. With the increasing power of the hardware and the deepening feature set of iOS the iPad is maturing into an incredible tool that is not only as capable as a notebook but one which surpasses that form factor in it’s flexibility.
I’d been waiting for the new 12.9" update so I ordered that, along with a Pencil and Smart Keyboard the minute the store came back online. I’m very excited to put the bigger screen to use. It will come in handy with the newly released Affinity Photo and will be even more useful when iOS 11 is released. The Smart Keyboard was not my first choice as it lacks iOS shortcuts I enjoy: volume, play/pause, Siri activation but the only other keyboard I was interested in and which I would have preferred was the Brydge but I’ve read far too many reports of those having poor build quality with people having to not only go through an exchange process because the out of the box keyboard was broke but of the replacements also being broke. Bummer. Hopefully the Smart Keyboard does the trick!
A great deal has been written in the past week about all of the WWDC news. Here’s just the tiniest sampling of links that caught my eye.
Harry McCracken, writing for Fast Company: With iOS 11, The iPad Will Make More Sense To A Huge Market: Skeptical PC Users
Jason Snell asks:Three big questions about Apple’s new iPad announcements
A more general overview is offered up by Steven Sinofsky: WWDC 2017 - Some Thoughts