The iPad just had its best day ever

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The iPad is finally going to be the best computer it can possibly be – and it’s all because it’s leaving iOS.

Apple announced during the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on Monday that starting later this year the iPad will run on its own operating system called iPadOS. This means iOS will belong to the iPhone, more or less.

This is incredible news for iPad owners.

Read more: Apple just knocked its biggest event of the year out of the park

iPad without iOS

For years, iPad owners have been asking – sometimes begging – Apple to add features from its Mac operating system to the tablet.

Apple previously balked at the idea of merging iOS and MacOS for the sake of the iPad, firmly believing that iOS is intended for touch devices and MacOS is meant for traditional computer designs.

The creation of iPadOS is the best solution: Instead of forcing the iPad to live by the rules of the iPhone (a much smaller device) or trying to make the Mac operating system work on a touch device, iPadOS will start off pretty similar to iOS 13 and gradually become more differentiated to the iPad’s form factor as years go on.

Becoming a real work computer

I bought an 11-inch iPad Pro last fall and returned it the next day because I quickly discovered that it could not really replace my laptop as a real work computer.

iPadOS – and some of the features offered by the MacOS Catalina and iOS 13 – looks like a completely different ball game.

Almost every single one of my complaints about the new iPad Pro were addressed in iOS 13:

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  • Mouse support! Apple didn’t announce this accessibility feature on stage, but the iPad will be able to connect to Bluetooth mice like Apple’s Magic Mouse, so you don’t have to lift your arm repeatedly to select text. This was one of my biggest complaints about the iPad in general.
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  • The iPad won’t be subjected to a “mobile browser” anymore. In iPadOS, Safari on the iPad is getting upgraded to be a desktop-class browsing experience. Hopefully we see more iPadOS apps do the same.
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  • iPadOS introduces a handful of new gestures that make it much easier to manipulate sentences and entire paragraphs. Selecting text is a major pain in iOS 12.
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  • iPadOS will give iPads native support for USB accessories, including external storage devices, thumb drives, and SD cards. This means you can import photos from a DSLR camera directly to your iPad by just plugging it in.
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  • The Files system has been greatly improved so you can browse and collaborate on documents, even if they’re on a work server.
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  • Multitasking on an iPad running iOS 12 was inconsistent and less efficient than on a normal computer. In iPadOS, multitasking is more intuitive, and it now has Expose view from the Mac so you can see all of your open windows at once.

Also, one of my favorite features of the iPad Pro, which was made possible only through a third party, is now an official iPad feature: Sidecar turns your iPad into a secondary display for your Mac, so you can have more space to do work or simply have a more mobile device that can mirror and control your laptop.

Even the Apple Pencil got thorough improvements. The latency, or lag you experience between putting the pencil on the page and seeing a mark, is now extremely diminished, and the Apple Pencil can now mark up entire documents. It feels like Apple really tried to improve every aspect of the iPad experience, whether you use it casually or for work.

The future is bright

With the iPad no longer held back by the restraints of iOS, Apple can start building the iPad experience that owners have been craving.

The initial rollout of iPadOS will give users a taste of what’s possible. By taking the best elements of iOS and MacOS to create something completely new, the iPad will finally be a truly flexible work computer.

You’ll still be able to lounge with it, read from it, and watch movies on it. But with iPadOS, you can do work with it confidently. You can choose your favorite input method – whether that’s your fingers, a keyboard, the Apple Pencil, or, for the first time, a mouse – and go to town. You can create multiple windows, endless tabs, and switch between everything seamlessly with improved multitasking.

For years, the story of the iPad has been that it’s “struggling” or “on the decline.” With iPadOS, it will finally have the dedicated tools and attention it needs to not only succeed but also grow.