Hands-On With iOS 11's iPad Features: Dock, Drag and Drop, App Switcher and More

There's a major focus on the iPad in iOS 11, with Apple introducing a huge range of iPad-specific features that offer a much improved multitasking experience, allowing the iPad to better serve as a full PC replacement. Many of the features included in iOS 11 have topped the wish lists of iPad owners for years, including Drag and Drop, the Files app, the persistent dock, and more.

iOS 11 significantly overhauls the way the iPad can be used, as can be seen in our hands-on video covering the iPad-specific features you can expect to see in the update.


There's an expanded Dock on the iPad, which is persistent and can be pulled up with an upwards swipe from within any app. The Dock makes switching between apps much faster, and it enables multitasking features on compatible devices.

Opening the Dock while using an app and dragging a Dock icon upwards will pop up a new window, which can be pulled into a Slide Over or Split View multitasking arrangement. Using the dock, you can switch between Split View apps in seconds.

Accompanying the Dock is a new App Switcher that has a design similar to Spaces on the Mac. It shows all of your most recently used apps, it offers access to Control Center settings, and it even preserves your Split View or Slide Over window arrangements.

Drag and Drop, one of the most desired iPad features, has been implemented in iOS 11. With Drag and Drop, text, links, photos, files, and more can be transferred between apps with simple drag gestures. Drag and Drop supports multitouch, so you can do things like pull a link from Safari, bring up the Dock, open up Messages, and send the link to a friend. Combined with a new Files app, Drag and Drop makes it incredibly easy to manage files.

Apple Pencil support is also expanding in iOS 11. The Apple Pencil can be used systemwide like any other stylus (or a finger), and there are new features that have been designed with the Apple Pencil in mind, including Instant Markup, which allows essentially anything to be annotated, and inline drawing within Mail and Notes.

There's also a neat Instant Notes feature that lets you tap the Apple Pencil on the screen of an iPad Pro to automatically open a new Note for quick note taking purposes. All of the other features that are new in iOS 11 are available on the iPad, so check out our comprehensive iOS 11 roundup for a complete overview of what's coming in the update.

iOS 11 is limited to developers at the current time, but Apple plans to make a public beta available in late June so non-developers will have a chance to test the new iPad features at that time. We'll have more videos covering iOS 11 features coming next week, so make sure to stay tuned to MacRumors.com.

Top Rated Comments

shareef777 Avatar
45 months ago
Haters are gonna hate (and I did my fare share), but the iPad is finally starting to look like a possible laptop replacement. Don't get me wrong, we're talking about MacBook/Air replacement, as I'd never give up a Pro for any type of tablet.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Soccertess Avatar
45 months ago
Cool updates to be honest.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adamneer Avatar
45 months ago
I like the expanded features, but seriously, how can anyone be expected to remember all these gestures? It's hard enough to remember 3D touch sometimes.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PJivan Avatar
45 months ago

Make no mistake, Apple is betting that the iPad Pro is going to be the future of computing. Calling it a super computer, incremental iOS updates that are used on (dock, file system), changing of OSX to macOS, furthering their own chips. I don't think it will be too much longer before they wave goodbye to their UNIX base, say goodbye to Intel, and get rid of the traditional laptop as we know it.

Yeah...because iOS is not UNIX based
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pdaholic Avatar
45 months ago

Really? After all of Steve Jobs massive caterwauling and gnashing of teeth about using a stylus to control the OS/UI. Oh the irony.

Not to sound like I'm defending Jobs (cause really I don't give a ****) but I think he was referring to the days when we had to pull out a stylus to select objects on the old resistive touch screens (e.g. the old windows mobile phones). Jobs helped to push tech towards capacitive touch and selecting objects with our fingers, eliminating the need for a stylus. The iPad Pro still doesn't need a pencil/stylus to control the UI, it's just there to augment it like a mouse or keyboard. The fact that the pencil couldn't manipulate the OS previously (I presume, as I haven't spent much time with the pencil/ipad pro) seems stupid, and it only seems natural that once it's in your hand, you can use it in lieu of your finger. Steve's sentiment remains, however, in that you don't actually need the pencil to navigate the iPad Pro.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
blackcrayon Avatar
45 months ago

which iPads could possibly have enough ram to run split screen, dock, drag and drop etc? Seems like a bunch of older hardware is going to come to a crawl because Apple failed through so many generations to increase the memory

Not really a bunch. The minimum device to get the split screen features was already the Mini 4. So these features are really only on the Mini 4, Air 2, and the Pros. And only the > 10" Pros with 4 GB will get 3 apps running all at once (2 in split, 1 in the sort of "window"). There are 2 sets of compatible iPads with these features. Those with 2GB and those with 4. And things seem just fine on those with 2GB. I don't think having the Dock and Drag & Drop represents that much more of a memory load than having two simultaneous apps.

QUESTION!

If you have an app in your dock that does not support slide-over/split-screen, what does it do you attempt to drag that app from the dock to the "slide over" area.

Does it not do anything? Does it replace the whole screen with a full-size app?

It replaces the whole screen with a full-size app.

I own multiple iPads including the iPad 12.9 and this is FAR from a real laptop replacement.

Biggest issue still failing on the iPad: can't read data from a simple USB thumb drive or any USB storage device.

Wireless AP storage units do not count. Dragging and dropping is a big deal but that should've been included starting from iOS 7. Much ado about nothing; readdle apps (documents) and filebrowser (business) can even do more than this more than a year ago (allowing AFP/SMB/SFTP/NAS support). This is just apple playing catchup and a lot of the iPad functionality is frankenstein features. Look at the control center it's a friggin' ugly mess. All that wasted space on the home screen as well. Nothing you can customize and yet you waste 2732-by-2048 resolution making it exactly like a scaled up iPhone interface.

If you can run 3 apps, you can run 4 and more. All these limitations are just apple nickel and diming y'all (including myself). The day the iPad gets respect is when you can actually use the screen real estate allowing customizations....dragging and dropping links and images is so basic this should've been available years ago!

Yep, complaining when Apple doesn't add anything new. Complaining when they do. Heh. Complaining that Control center isn't customizable and can't do enough. Now it's too customizable and can do too much.

"Much ado about nothing"? Can't tell if you're serious about that- system-wide first party support for a feature, with APIs, is a huge deal and means we'll soon have it pretty much universally supported. And in terms of "catchup", yes, literally every improvement Apple or Google or Microsoft ever adds should've been there in the previous version. But at least we have it now. Ironically- you can do a few types of drag actions that aren't even available on macOS due to the single pointer limitation. :)

Hopefully Files will be the basis for adding more file storage access. At the very least, they could allow an extension point so those MFI lightning Flash/USB drives will work with it instead of launching the silly apps.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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