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iPad gets overhauled multitasking and other major software updates in iOS 11

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Apple announced some new updates for the iPad Pro at WWDC as part of the upcoming iOS 11 update that finally builds out the tablet’s potential as a professional device, with what Apple calls “the largest iOS release for iPad ever.”

The Dock is getting overhauled, and now resembles the dock on a Mac. Users can stick as many apps as they want into the dock, and access it from anywhere in an application to easily switch between apps or simply drag out a second application in split-screen.

Additionally, Apple is also upgrading multitasking on the iPad, adding a new app switcher to show multiple apps at the same time, similar to Spaces on the Mac. iOS 11 will also allow users to drag and drop text, images, and other snippets between applications, similar to the third-party implementation developed by Readdle earlier this year.

There’s a new Files application that leaked out earlier, which makes managing files easier. It can tie into cloud services like Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive as well. Files works with the new drag-and-drop support, too, making it simple to access documents in other apps, too.

Additionally, the Apple Pencil is more deeply integrated into iOS 11. Simply tapping on the lock screen opens up the iPad to the Notes app in iOS 11, and anything you handwrite in Notes is searchable through machine learning that analyzes your written text. Anything that you can screenshot can be automatically marked up with Pencil. There’s a new document scanner in the Notes application, which allows documents to be easily digitized and written on all in one place.

As Apple continues to face pressure from devices like Microsoft’s Surface Laptop and Google’s Chromebook in fighting for the attention of students and workers looking for simple productivity devices, these updates could go a long way toward furthering the professional applications of Apple’s tablet hardware.

iOS 11 is expected to release sometime this fall.