Apple announces iPadOS 15: First look at the new features

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Apple kicked off their annual developer conference today, which is being held as a remote event again for 2021. During the keynote, they took the wraps off iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 and showed off many of the new features that will be coming to Apple devices later this year. Like with past major iOS updates, Apple will release a public beta of iOS and iPadOS 15 in July, and then likely release the final version for everyone later this year alongside the iPhone 13.

What’s new in iPadOS 15

Several years ago Apple split the iPad and iPhone operating systems into two separate platforms, which made sense given that the iPad offers unique multitasking features that aren’t practical on the iPhone’s smaller screen. Here’s a quick overview of what’s new in the iPad version of the software and how pilots might be able to use some of these features in the cockpit.

New Multitasking Controls

In the current version of iPadOS, setting up multitasking can be tricky and sometimes frustrating, as it requires precise gesture inputs and sliding windows around on the screen. To improve this capability, Apple added a new multitasking menu at the top of the screen, providing an easier way to enable split view or slide over multitasking.


There’s also a new shelf view at the bottom to allow multitasking with apps that have multiple windows like Safari and Pages.

Widgets and App Library on the home screen

Last year’s iOS 14 release for iPhone added an App Library feature to intelligently organize your apps, as well as the ability to add widgets to home screen pages. These features are now available on iPad in iPadOS 15.

Quick Notes

iPadOS 15 includes a new systemwide Quick Note feature, which allows you to jot down notes while using any app on your device. This will come in handy to write down an IFR clearance or ATC instruction while still viewing the planned or active route on your aviation EFB’s map screen.

Share a live view of your screen with SharePlay

A new feature added to FaceTime calls allows you to share what’s showing on your iPad’s screen with another person. This will make for a great tool for pilots who want to flight plan and brief the weather together when in different locations.

Redesigned Safari web browser

Safari gets a new tab design that lets users see more of the page as they browse. A new tab bar takes on the color of the webpage and combines tabs, the toolbar, and the search field into a single, compact design. Tab Groups offer a new way to easily save and manage tabs — great for planning trips, shopping, or storing frequently visited tabs. Tab Groups also sync across Mac and iPhone, so users can continue their project from anywhere or easily share them with friends and family. Safari on iPad also now supports web extensions, available from the App Store.

New Focus Modes

Pilots will really appreciate this next feature, which is designed as a way to customize settings and the home screen based on user-defined activities. You can set up various focus modes based on how you are using the device, like one for work hours and another when using the device for entertainment purposes. You can create custom Home Screen pages with apps and widgets for each focus mode to display only relevant apps and information to that mode. This would allow you to create an “Aviation” focus mode, which would then show only your aviation apps and widgets on the home screen and block notifications except those from your primary aviation app.

Apple also introduced several features in iOS 15 unique to the iPhone, including an updated Messages app, digital driver’s licenses, redesigned weather and notes apps. Read more about the new iPhone features here.