Three Weeks with iOS and iPadOS 15: Foundational Updates

From Federico Viticci at MacStories:

Let me cut to the chase: I don’t think iOS and iPadOS 15 are massive updates like iOS and iPadOS 13 or 14 were. There are dozens of interesting new features in both updates, but none of them feels “obvious” to demonstrate to average users like, say, dark mode and iPad multiwindow in iOS and iPadOS 13 or Home Screen widgets in last year’s iOS 14. And, for the most part, I think that’s fine. The wheel doesn’t have to be reinvented every year, and the pandemic happened for everyone – Apple engineers included.

In many ways, iOS and iPadOS 15 remind me of iOS 10 and 12: they’re updates that build upon the foundation set by their predecessors, bringing welcome consumer additions that, while not earth-shattering, contribute to making iOS more mature, intelligent, and deeply integrated with Apple’s ecosystem.

As always, a great overview from Viticci. The thing that stuck out to me the most is his detailed breakdown of Safari on iOS and iPadOS. I’m still looking for a review that speaks in glowing terms about the UX tradeoffs made for these releases. As Federico says in the article:

So I have to ask: is it worth sacrificing everything else in the name of an address bar at the bottom?

I’ve been a Firefox user on the desktop for a while now, but have used Safari on iOS up to now. I’ve tried out Safari 15 on my Mac (you can download the Safari Technology Preview to check it our for yourself), and I can’t get into the changes on the nav bar. It’s a constant hunt to find the tabs you want because they’re always moving around and many of the things I use from the toolbar are now hidden behind an extra click. The past couple of years Apple has been on a quest to banish as much UI behind 3 dot menus, and it makes using their software more difficult to use. This seems to be in service of better aesthics over user experience. The idea of “elevating the content” is all well and good, but not if the rest of the UX suffers as a result. It doesn’t need to be an either/or proposition.

This release might push me to using a 3rd party browser on all of my devices. It looks that bad. I really hope they see the feedback and learn from it, becuase it’s overwhelmingly bad. I was really excited about the idea of true browser extensions on iOS/iPadOS but I’m not sure it’s worth the tradeoffs.

WWDC 2021 Wishlist

It’s that time again! Thought I’d throw a quick list together of the top things I wish Apple would do in next software versions at this year’s WWDC. Kind of a grab bag, but thought I’d put a flag in the ground now. Make entire play history available in Apple Music, not just library tracks. […]

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Apple’s App Store Issues

If you’ve been under a technology rock, you might have missed the kerfuffle Apple’s been in for the past few months. We’ve seen a few high-profile dust ups over Apple’s control of what goes on the App Store (HEY, Microsoft’s xCloud, Fortnite). The arguments vary for each of these but the common issue is that […]

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WWDC 2020 Initial Thoughts

The WWDC 2020 “pandemic edition” is now behind us, and it was one of the better ones I’ve seen in quite some time. Apple announced a lot in the 2 hour presentation, with iOS and MacOS getting the bulk of the attention this year. What follows is a quick rundown of my thoughts after watching […]

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Sanding the Rough Edges of iPadOS

I recently bought an 11″ iPad Pro to “replace” my aging 2015 MacBook Pro. My work has provided me with a 15” MacBook Pro that’s only about a year old, so there’s no reason for me to buy a new laptop for myself right now – especially when I’m working from home every day anyway. […]

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11-inch iPad Pro Experiment

From Ryan Christoffel at MacStories:

This is probably too general of advice, but I’d recommend that if you expect to regularly use your iPad Pro as a tablet, the 11-inch will likely be your best option. If, however, you expect to use it almost entirely with a Magic Keyboard attached, the 12.9-inch is a good bet. Both devices can work in both modes, but the 11-inch is a better tablet, and the 12.9-inch is a better laptop.

I really enjoyed this article, as it captures a lot of my feelings regarding using the iPad as your primary computer. As my personal laptop begins to age, I find myself using my work issued MacBook Pro for most of my “computer” tasks, and an iPad for nearly everything else. The iPad Pro + Magic Keyboard combo is a very versatile (albeit expensive) solution for almost anyone now. If you’re going to go that route, the biggest decision is how much you want to use it as a traditional tablet.

How Apple reinvented the cursor for iPad

From Matthew Panzarino, at TechCrunch:

The new iPad cursor is a product of what came before, but it’s blending, rather than layering, that makes it successful in practice. The blending of the product team’s learnings across Apple TV, Mac and iPad. The blending of touch, mouse and touchpad modalities. And, of course, the blending of a desire to make something new and creative and the constraint that it also had to feel familiar and useful right out of the box. It’s a speciality that Apple, when it is at its best, continues to hold central to its development philosophy.

This was a really neat deep dive into the process around developing the new cursor UI/UX for iPadOS. I’ve given a spin on my 9.7″ iPad and a Magic Trackpad and left very impressed … at least, when it was in an app that was using native controls. The cursor changing shape and magnetically attracting to targets is a magical feeling the first few times you see it. Especially give its Apple’s first attempt at bolting a new interaction model to the iPad I’m very hopeful about their ability to make their most versatile computer even more so.

I also really dig these types of articles and wish I’d see more of them. I feel nowadays everything is either a 10k word review or clickbait hot takes. Techno-optimism is something that has died in the past few years, and I appreciate authors who still can still write as if they’re excited about tech, not permanently skeptical of it.

iPad Main Menu — iPadOS 14 Concept

From Alexander Käßner:

This concept brings the main menu we know and love from Mac to iPad. It keeps the numerous advantages of a written menu, redesigned with touch devices in mind.

I love these concept pages. This one in particular is super thoughtful and answers for a lot of the issues that I run into (keyboard inconsistencies, lack of discoverable features) when using an iPad. Definitely worth watching the video at the end.