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Should the iPad have its own version of iOS?

By CJ Castillo / July 25, 2013


When Tim Cook introduced us to iOS 7 at WWDC this June, he promised, “The biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone.” He wasn’t kidding. With its flat app icons and thin typefaces, iOS 7 looks more like Windows 8 than the previous iPhone operating systems.

The first version of iOS 7 was only available for iPhone developers. However, it became available for tablets with iOS 7 Beta 2, and there are some noticeable differences between the iPad and iPhone versions of the software.

What’s new for the iPad

Some of the changes in iOS 7 for iPad will please users. For example, Notification Center now comes in full-screen size. On previous versions, it only took up a small part of the screen. The additional real estate makes Notification Center easier to use.

Control Center also takes advantage of the bigger screen on the iPad, but by actually using less of it. On the iPhone, Control Center fills the entire screen with a somewhat jumbled layout and menu arrangement. On the iPad, Control Center takes up about a sixth of the screen, with the controls and features organized across the wider device in an easy-to-read manner.

But the Notification and Control Centers aren’t the only iPad upgrades. Safari’s tabbed view looks much better on the iPad than the windowed version of the iPhone. The iPad also features a handy iCloud Tabs button on the toolbar that makes it far easier to access than the one hidden in the iPhone menu. The Photo Booth app, which isn’t available on the iPhone, has gotten a welcomed facelift. Rounding out the list of noticeable differences is the iPad’s Music app, which now houses the controls at the top of the screen and the tabs for artists, albums, genres and other menus at the bottom.

iOS for iPad wish list

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, one in three U.S. adults now own a tablet, more than double the number from 2012. It seems that users are also putting off purchasing PCs and laptops, buying tablets instead. Companies like Apple would do well to keep this in mind when developing an OS for the iPad.

One of the most wanted features on the iPad is the ability to use two apps at once, side by side. Although the new iOS does feature enhanced multitasking abilities, it’s not enough for users who are using iPads for more than Fruit Ninja and updating their Facebook. If Apple wants to maintain their tablet dominance, they’re going to need to take a note from Windows 8.

iPad should get its own OS

Jean-Louis Gassée, a former Apple executive, wrote regarding the iPad, “Apple’s tablet is far from realizing its ‘professional’ potential.” As Gassée noted, simple tasks such as sharing links, copying from one document to the next, adding a hyperlink, or taking a screenshot “are complicated and cumbersome.” Most of these tasks have us going back to our computers. The one-open-window approach may work well on the iPhone, given the limitations of a smaller screen, but on an iPad, why limit themselves?

The iPad is capable of being a laptop replacement, but the current OS is holding it back. Perhaps once the iPad receives its very own iOS, we’ll see developers create more robust apps that take advantage of the iPad’s processing power and larger screen.