iPadOS 14 wishlist: Smarter multitasking, portrait split screen, a $#!% calculator, and more

We don’t quite know what it’s going to look like yet, but in less than a month, WWDC 2020 will give us our first look at the next generation of Apple’s operating systems. And this year, all eyes will be on iPadOS. After splitting off from iOS last year to give the iPad more room to breathe, Apple’s tablet is on the verge of busting out with its new trackpad support and “reimagined” cursor. Here’s what we hope iPadOS 14 brings to take things to the next level.

Smarter multitasking

When Apple added multitasking in iOS 11 with Slide Over, Split View, and Picture in Picture, it gave the iPad a new identity. However, Apple hasn’t done much to update that image since then. While the iPhone 11 has smart gestures that help you get around without fumbling for the home button, multitasking on the iPad is a confusing jumble of touching, tapping, holding, dragging, and sliding, none of which are intuitive. And it’s no better when you use a trackpad.

With iOS 14, Apple needs to re-imagine iPad gestures in a serious way to make them as smart as they are on the iPhone, with intuitive controls that feel natural and fluid.

Desktop mode

Apple’s Magic Keyboard is more than just another way to type on your tablet. It’s a whole new experience that is closer than ever to a MacBook, with a trackpad, backlit keyboard, and better laptop ergonomics. But when you attach your iPad Pro to it, you get the same touch-based interface as before. Apple might have added a cursor, but the iPad experience hasn’t changed, so the whole system feels tacked on.

A dedicated desktop mode would change that. Imagine a system where the traditional iPad OS transformed into a pointer friendly one, with floating windows, a cleaner home screen, and a dynamic dock. The iPad isn’t just a tablet anymore, and Apple should fully embrace both worlds.

magic keyboard smart keyboard folio Leif Johnson/IDG

When the keyboard’s connected, it should unlock more iPad goodness.

Multiple users

This one is the biggest head-scratcher of all. Ten years after the launch of the original iPad and we’re still missing one of the most basic features: multiple users. It goes against everything Apple stands for—flexibility, versatility, ease of use, and privacy—and makes it more difficult than it should be to share your tablet with your kids. Even Amazon lets you create different profiles for kids on its tablet so you don’t have to bog down your workspace with games and time restrictions you don’t want. We’d like to set up multiple users for anyone, but we’ll accept a kids-only version.

Launchpad for iPad

Since the dawn of iOS, Apple has refused to let us hide our apps, forcing us to obsessively organize and prioritize our apps and home screen by going all Marie Kondo on our devices. The iPad is the only tablet that forces you to stare at your icons all day long and block your wallpaper from view. It might have been quaint in 2010, but it’s time we got a Launchpad option in the dock that lets us completely hide our apps from view.

A real Finder

While we’re talking about Mac apps we’d like to see on the iPad, the Finder should be near the top of the list. The iPad has come a long way with file management thanks to iCloud Drive and the Files app, but it’s still woefully inadequate compared to the Finder on the Mac. From the limited view options to the crippled search and lack of a downloads folder or native file compression and extraction, the iPad shows its deficiencies whenever it needs to interact with a document, which is, you know, like all the time. A Finder would go a long way toward changing that.