In brief: Although the differences between iOS and iPadOS are hard to notice at first glance, the company is championing the latter as the dedicated OS for its tablets moving forward, which is also compatible with iPads dating back several years. Along with the new OS, Apple showed off today a new entry-level iPad with a larger screen and support for Apple Pencil that starts at $329.
Apple's dedicated OS for iPads is set for a September 30 release and supports several years' worth of iPhone models, including the iPad Air 2 that was released five years ago.
To most, the new iPadOS might look like a rebranded version of iOS, but Apple said earlier this year that it would build it as a separate operating system that will slowly incorporate features and optimizations that make it more powerful on tablets. One of the most meaningful changes is the addition of widgets to the home screen, which now shows more apps on every page.
Apple is trying to appeal to light desktop users with productivity features like Split View for multitasking, support for working with multiple files from a single app, and quick switching from an app to another with Slide Over.
Safari now displays the desktop version of websites if you want to be productive inside the browser, and you can do one-hand typing with a swipe floating keyboard. There's also deeper integration with Apple Pencil -- you can swipe it from the bottom corner of the screen to create a screenshot of an entire webpage or document and mark on it using a redesigned tool palette.
iPadOS also supports USB file transfers, which has been one of the biggest weaknesses of iOS on iPad, compromising on productivity. Other notable features mirror those found in the new iOS 13: there's support for Dark Mode, custom fonts from the App Store, and the Photos app was upgraded to offer essential editing tools for your photos and videos.
During today's iPhone 11 event at the Steve Jobs Theater, a surprise announcement came in the form of a new entry-level iPad. The new device replaces the current 9.7 inch model with a 10.2 inch variant that is the first seventh-generation device in the iPad family.
The new iPad comes with the benefit of supporting the full-sized Smart Keyboard as well as Apple Pencil. For powering the device, Apple chose an A10 Fusion chip, which should be plenty fast as it is also found in the second-generation iPad Pro. The company also touted its environmental efforts, which include the casing of the new iPad which it claims is made of 100% recycled aluminum.
It's worth noting that the new iPad doesn't come with a USB-C connector, which means you'll have to use an adapter for external drives and cameras. The bright side is the device starts at $329 for 32 GB of storage (or $299 for students), and you can grab the 128 GB variant for $100 more. As with the new iPhones, even if you preorder today, it'll ship on September 30 at the earliest.