iPadOS 17 beta 1 hands-on: Apple fails to evolve the “unique” identity of the iPad

iPadOS 17 beta 1 hands-on: Apple fails to evolve the

With the release of version 13.0, Apple renamed iOS on iPad to iPadOS. The move aims to distinguish between the latest iPhones and iPads by giving the latter product category a unique and independent identity. Since then, iPadOS has acquired some unique features that bring the tablet closer to a PC replacement, such as Stage Manager. Does iPadOS 17 beta 1 actually contribute to this evolution? Not significantly. The experience remains largely familiar and unchanged.

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Apple first unveiled iPadOS 17, alongside iOS 17, macOS Sonoma, and watchOS 10, during the WWDC23 opening keynote. And now that I’ve gotten my hands on iPadOS 17 beta 1, I’ve come to certain conclusions. For starters, Apple seems to be running out of ideas to make the iPad stand out. After all, this release introduces very few exclusives to the company’s tablet. In fact, it mostly catches up with the recent addition of iOS while missing out on some products included in iOS 17


iPadOS 17 beta 1 stability

iPad Air 5 with iPadOS 17 beta

Before delving into the news of the beta version of iPadOS 17, let’s focus for a moment on the stability of the operating system. If you’ve read my hands-on piece on iOS 17 beta 1, you’re probably aware of how buggy and unstable that pre-release build is. Luckily though, iPadOS 17 beta 1 is apparently more reliable and I’ve encountered fewer bugs so far. That’s not to mention that I’m not experiencing any unusual battery drain. So, if you’re eyeing this beta operating system and don’t need your iPad for serious work or study, it may be relatively safe to install iPadOS 17 beta. And remember, if you don’t like the experience, you can always go back to the stable version.

It’s worth noting that iOS and iPadOS share the same basics, though. After all, the latter is just an expanded version of the former with additional features and benefits. This means that some iOS 17 beta 1 bugs may also be available on the iPadOS counterpart. Ultimately, these are very early betas and are not meant to be rolled out to primary devices.

iPadOS 17 beta 1 does not show up

iOS 17 standby mode

Before we delve into what’s new in iPadOS 17 beta 1, let’s take a look at the iOS 17 features that won’t be coming to the iPad through this release. To begin with, the new Standby mode is not available on iPadOS. This means that loading the iPad while in landscape orientation won’t bring out the new large widgets that are currently exclusive to the iPhone.

iPadOS 17 beta 1 also apparently loses the Contact Posters feature that iOS 17 users can use. So you won’t be able to create or edit a contact poster on iPadOS. Similarly, NameDrop and activating AirDrop by putting two devices next to each other seem to be missing. Finally, there is no mention of the arrival of the Journal app on the iPad. So when it launches later this year via an iOS 17.x update, it might as well remain exclusive to the iPhone.

iPadOS 17 beta 1 reaches iOS

Health app on iPadOS 17 beta

While iOS 17 beta 1 introduces some features that were previously exclusive to the iPhone, some additions have come to the iPad as well. For example, you can use the new interactive widgets, which allow you to perform actions from the home screen without launching a certain app. Not to mention the reactions from FaceTime and new iMessage updates. These include online location sharing, faster response gestures, new sticker experience, finer filters and more.

Even more importantly, iPadOS 17 finally catches up with some previous features of the iPhone, such as adding support for the customizable lock screen and its widgets. Similarly, iPad users can use the Apple Health app on a bigger screen for the first time, thanks to iPadOS 17.

Apart from these additions, you can also take advantage of some other iOS 17 features on iPadOS 17. These include Apple Keychain sharing, AirTag sharing, improved PDF support, shorter Siri hot word, incognito tabs locked in Safari, offline Apple Maps, crossfading into Apple Music and more.

iPadOS 17 beta 1 exclusives

iPadOS 17 settings app

Supposedly, with iPadOS 17 beta 1, you also get some exclusives. However, they are quite scarce this year. In particular, Stage Manager has become more collaborative, allowing you to resize app windows more flexibly. With its initial debut last year, window resizing had more limitations. Additionally, iPad users can now rely on external webcams for video conferencing, such as those built into displays.

In addition to these productivity exclusives, iPadOS 17 beta 1 introduces detailed planetary backgrounds with finer details not featured on iOS. These take advantage of the tablet’s larger display, allowing users to enjoy a more immersive view.

iPadOS 17 beta 1 in a nutshell

As you can understand, iPadOS 17 beta 1 does not contain many new additions. It mainly focuses on catching up with iOS by bringing iPhone features to the iPad. These include the revamped lock screen, Apple Health app, and new iOS 17 features. Otherwise, the system doesn’t get any meaningful exclusivity that contributes to the unique identity of the iPad that Apple has been trying to establish for the past few years. .

Considering this is a developer beta 1, iPadOS 17 is stable enough for those who are okay with a few glitches here and there. I haven’t had any breakage issues so far, but I also use my iPhone more than my iPad. So you are more likely to run into problems on iOS. Ultimately, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of the beta for yourself and decide if the new offerings are worth the inferior experience.

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