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iPadOS adds thumb drive support as iPad verges closer to Mac

Apple is making the iPad more like the Mac than ever before. With the new iPadOS, announced at WWDC 2019, iPad owners can now access files by plugging in a USB thumb drive or an SD card.

In what is already being considered the most important new feature in the new iPad-centric operating system, the new thumb drive support will interface directly with the Files app.

So, you’ll just have to plug the USB drive into the iPad and be able to access the contents directly from the Files app, just as you would in Finder on the Mac. Lightroom users will also be able to import files directly into the app.

The thumb drive will show up in the Locations sidebar within the new Files app, which now also includes zip and unzip functionality, pushing the iPad even closer to the performance of a desktop operating system.

The addition makes it far easier for users to bring content like photos and video directly to the iPad. It’ll also be great for non-iCloud users seeking to add documents to their iPad without having to email or exchange files wirelessly.

Other Mac-like improvements to the new iPadOS include a proper desktop-class version of Safari, which includes a download manager, helping users keep tracks of files they’re taking from the internet. It’s compatible with Google Docs and has support for 30 keyboard shortcuts.

Apple is also bringing App Exposé to iPadOS. If you tap an open app icon in the dock while in the exposé view, you will see all of the documents you have open in an app like Notes for example.

Elsewhere in iPadOS, Apple is deploying a tighter icon grid, giving you access to more content on your home screen. There’s also a desktop swipe over feature that reveals widgets you’ve pinned to the home screen. This is the first time Apple has ever allowed widgets to appear on the main home screen of one of its mobile devices.

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