The iPad is having a great year.
It started with the $329 iPad back in April, a compelling tablet that’s both good and cheap enough to entice upgraders and people who have never bought a tablet before. And it continued in June, with new 10.5- and 12.9-inch iPad Pros with high-end screens and powerful specs that make them look and feel a lot more “pro” than they did before.
This is all really good, compelling, well-differentiated hardware, and it has paid off for Apple so far—the new tablet drove year-over-year iPad sales up for the first time in more than three years. While it’s not clear where the trendlines are ultimately heading, Apple has to be happy that the tablet it has described as “the future of computing” doesn’t appear to be in terminal decline.
Today, the good news for the iPad continues with the public release of iOS 11. There’s a lot of stuff in this update, and a bunch of it benefits iPhone owners, too. But Apple has put a lot of work into the iPad-related parts of the operating system this year—the tablet still exists somewhere in between the iPhone and the Mac, but the changes to the UI and to the underpinnings of iOS 11 help iPads move further toward the Mac than they’ve ever been before. The upgrade is even more significant for tablets than iOS 9, both because the changes are bigger and because more iPads can actually take advantage of all these fancy productivity features now.
In this review, I’ll be focusing on iOS 11 features that are available to current phones and tablets that are updating from iOS 10. If you want to know about things that are specific to the three new iPhones that Apple announced last week, those will be covered in a separate review to come.