In case you haven’t been paying attention to what is coming in iOS 11, the big story is that the iPad is about to gain a lot of pro-level features. Many of these will be iPad-specific features, not available on the iPhone. In fact, an iPad running iOS 11 will be halfway between an iPhone and a Mac.
A new app, called Files, is basically the Finder. It is an upgraded version of the iCloud Drive app available in iOS 10, but now you can see files stored in other locations, such as Dropbox. You can move, delete and rename files. You can create folders. You can even see the Files app appear as an “open file dialog” in places, just like on a Mac.
Multitasking now allows for windowed apps, taking up about on third of the screen as a floating window that can be on the left or right side of the screen, or even temporarily moved off the right side and brought back in. You can still have two apps share the screen, either 50/50 or 33/67. So now you can have three apps on the screen at the same time.
There’s a Dock at the bottom of the screen. Very similar to the Dock on the Mac. In any app all you need to do is to drag up from the bottom of the screen and you’ll get this Dock with apps you choose, plus recently-used ones. You can switch between apps this way, or bring up a second app for multitasking.
If you continue to drag up, you get to the app switcher, which now presents you with screens that look a lot like Mission Control on a Mac. If you pair up two apps on a screen, they stay paired here, so you can have a screen with Safari and Mail, for instance, and keep those together.
You can drag and drop between apps now. So you can go to Photos, drag an image, and move to the Mail app and drag it into a message. Since 1984 the secret to a lot of advanced functionality on a Mac has been drag-and-drop. Now that will start to become true on the iPad as well.
And those are just the major improvements. There are a lot of others too, such as a keyboard that allows you to swipe a key to access symbols and numbers, scanning documents in the Notes app, and easier home screen icon arranging. There’s even a way to video capture your screen now.
There’s still plenty that Mac can do that the iPad cannot. Most of those things involve high-end apps which are only available on Macs, such as full-strength Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, and other pro apps. But the iPad equivalents aren’t that far removed anymore. Plus, if you add in the fact that the iPad is very light and portable, a touch screen, the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro, and it has great battery life, then you start to see why it may be hard to choose between an iPad and a Mac in the near future.