Apple recently announced the completely revamped iPadOS 13 – the new standalone version of iOS 13 that is designed purely for use on iPads. Users of the iPad, and especially the iPad Pro have been requesting “pro” level feature updates to the tablet operating system for quite some time. Prior to iPadOS, the features within iOS were mostly designed for the iPhone, but with the processing power and raw speed of the iPad Pro now outpacing most laptops on the market, even Apple’s own MacBook lineup, Apple needed to start taking the iPad seriously and treat it as a device within its own class, rather than limiting the operating system and hardware features to those offered in the iPhone.
When features such as USB-C were announced in the 2018 iPad Pro models, questions started to be asked of Apple about what they were going to do with it other than use it as a charging port. With iOS12, external mass storage devices are not compatible and files cannot be accessed from those devices. This limited the ability for photographers to view or access their image libraries outside of what can be seen via a cloud service such as Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud Drive, or from compatible USB dongles that have been available for many years.
The power of the A12X processor in the iPad Pro is phenomenal and we aren’t too far away now from a generational update to the iPad range. The A13 and even A14 chips that are already being reported on will have nothing on the market that can compete with them. So it was about time Apple started to take the iPad line of products seriously and deliver an operating system to compliment the raw power, speed and graphical capabilities that the hardware in the iPad Pro is capable of.
I have been using iPadOS 13 on the 2018 11” iPad Pro since the first beta version was released, and as of writing this am currently using iPadOS 13 Beta 5. I originally purchased the iPad Pro as an alternative photo editing and blogging tool for when I am travelling and have since used it as my primary computing device as a replacement to my MacBook Pro for the majority of my mobile computing needs. When iPadOS was announced I was extremely excited and could finally see the bigger picture that Apple was envisioning when they launched the 2018 iPad Pro. There are a number of new features that suit a photography workflow in iPadOS 13, with hopefully more to come by the time the public iPadOS release launches in September 2019.
From the improved functionality of the USB-C port, importing images directly into photography specific apps and better file management there are plenty of new features to suit the professional or amateur photographer in iPadOS. Let’s take a look at 5 photography related features and improvements in iPadOS for the iPad Pro.
1. USB-C is finally useful for photographers on the iPad Pro with iPadOS
When Apple released the 2018 iPad Pro range with a UBS-C connector to replace the older proprietary Lightning adaptor, the limitations of iOS 12 prevented the iPad Pro from communicating with any mass external storage devices such as USB-C hard drives and thumb drives. For a device that is marketed as “Pro” hardware with a universal connector capable of so much more, this was quite a confusing move that really limited the functionality of the extremely powerful iPad Pro. Thankfully iPadOS finally removes this limitation and allows mass storage and many more USB-C compatible hardware devices to be plugged directly into the iPad and work.
For photographers this means the ability to open, edit and import images onto the iPad directly from USB drives or from SD Cards, Compact flash cards using a third party USB-C dongle, or even from DSLR and mirrorless cameras that have USB-C ports on them. You can now also copy images and other files from the iPad to USB-C mass storage devices using the Files app on iPadOS. Getting your images onto the iPad using iPadOS is now an extremely simple and reasonably streamlined process when you are using a USB-C mass storage device.
2. New photo editing and image management interface in iPadOS Photos app
With the release of iPadOS Apple have revamped the interface within the Photos app with new photo editing options and a more refined, modern looking interface for image navigation and file management. Now I have to admit that I don’t really use the Photos app to edit images and prefer to use a dedicated app like Lightroom or Affinity Photo, but the new interface does make it easier to navigate and find features to make changes to exposure, colour, sharpness and more. For those who use digital photo filters there are plenty of options such as Vivid, Dramatic Warm, Moon, Silvertone and Vivid Cool which can all be adjusted with varying strengths from 0% – 100%. Cropping, flip and warping tools are also available, along with a new Markup interface allowing annotations on images, screenshots and PDF files.
3. File management in the Files app in iPadOS makes managing photo files easy
With the addition of a fully functional USB-C connector to attach mass storage device, you would expect that Apple would finally implement a file management system to iPadOS. And thankfully they have. The ability to create folders, drag and drop files to move or copy or rename is all there. If you have used Finder on the Mac the interface in the Files app on iPadOS will feel very similar. The split screen view allows you to easily navigate between folders and different services like Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud Drive and even NAS services like WDMyCloud if you use them. You can save files directly to the iPad and view files you have downloaded through Safari. EXIF data can be viewed on images which is very useful for photographers. And you can easily share your images via email, AirDrop or to just about any of your social media profiles directly from the Files app through the newly implemented Share Sheet.
4. ( Coming Soon)Import images directly into photography apps like Adobe Lightroom and Affinity Photo
When using iOS on either the iPad or iPhone the Photos app has always been the “go-between” when importing images into any third party photography apps. iOS requires all types of images – whether they be JPG, TIF, PNG or RAW files to firstly be imported into Photos via the Camera Roll, and then allows those files to be visible to apps like Adobe Lightroom and Affinity Photo (and eventually Adobe Photoshop for the iPad Pro when it is released) for processing and editing. Apple have announced that with the updates in iPadOS, app developers will allow images of all types can be imported directly into those third party apps, allowing your camera roll to stay clean and free of large files, and possibly preventing large file uploads to iCloud from the camera roll for those who use iCloud Sync. This may not be available until the public release of iPadOS in September and after app developers have had time to implement the new file import API. But when it does happen this is going to be a very useful feature.
5. Apple Pencil latency dropped from 20ms to 9ms for more responsive photo editing
The first generation Apple Pencil was already extremely impressive in its responsiveness. But the second generation Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro upped the game with a 20 millisecond response time that made it feel as if you were actually writing on paper. When you draw, write or use the Apple Pencil to edit images the actions are so responsive that everything seems to happen instantly. With iPadOS 13 Apple have yet again improved the response time of the second generation Apple Pencil from the already impressive 20 milliseconds down to and incredible 9 milliseconds. The Apple Pencil combined with the 2018 iPad Pro running iPadOS 13 is simply amazing to use. Photo editing is extremely accurate. Pressure sensitivity works very well in apps like Affinity Photo, and will no doubt work very well in the upcoming Adobe Photoshop for iPad Pro when it is released. The Apple Pencil is a must have accessory for photographers using the iPad Pro.