iOS 11 focuses on iPad

Apple revealed this week its newest iteration of the mobile operating system, cleverly named ’11’. As you’d expect for an update to an entire operating system, there’s a big list of improvements. QR Code Scanning (my old boss will be dancing), screen recording, Wi-Fi sharing, one-handed keyboards... the list is long. The new version of the control center seems worth the ticket price alone.

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But the more significant improvements seem to be aimed squarely at the iPad - and in particular, the iPad Pro. Multitasking, the drag and drop, app spaces and the new dock look to make the iPad into a significantly more useful tool.

The biggest problem I’ve had with the iPad as a tool is that it isn’t easy to do several things at once. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. Using a wireless keyboard and the IA Writer app, I can sit down with an iPad and get serious things done. Or reading, or watching. But these are rather singular activities. In creating this article, though, I’ve used four different apps. And in the case of Chrome, I’ve had two windows open, each with multiple tabs. All to assemble the information and get it where I need it to produce a final product.

Multitasking was introduced in iOS 10, but with the addition of a macOS-like dock which allows you to access apps and drop them onto the screen looks to make the process of setting up your split screen notably easier. And a third app can be thrown into the mix with the slide over mode.

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credit: macstories

Add the new files app and system wide drag and drop - moving things from one place to another easily might finally have arrived. Imagine grabbing a URL, dropping it into a document, posting to twitter, without having to fumble with the old ways of switching between full screen apps. The workflows I’ve always used on my computer might finally be achieved on that slick, one-pound iPad Pro.

ETA: Paul Miller at the Verge saw some more of the new iOS drag and drop functionality, and he thinks its pretty awesome:

...after watching a more in-depth technical explanation of the technology at Apple's follow-up Platforms State of the Union, I'm starting to wonder if Apple has a new “pinch to zoom” on its hands: a technology that doesn't just allow for multitouch devices to compete with point-and-click desktop experiences, but in a way, it surpasses them.

...What makes iOS drag and drop special is that you can grab multiple things at once, and they don't all have to be within a convenient marquee selection range. You can keep hold of the first object; navigate elsewhere in the app; grab something else, which is then added to the "stack" of stuff under your finger; and keep adding until you're satisfied. On a desktop it's possible to select non-contiguous items for drag and drop with shift click or control click, but I'm unaware of a system for grabbing onto multiple items from multiple views outside of fancy clipboard hacks.

When you’re dragging something around on iOS, multitouch means you can still fully interact with the rest of the OS. On a desktop, once you’re holding something with the cursor, you’re limited to what you can hover over for a drop target and what keyboard commands can marshal.

That does sound pretty cool, and only makes me want to get my hands on it that much more.

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