Apple has announced that soon you’ll be able to plug thumb drives, external disk drives, and SD cards directly into your iPad. The functionality, which was announced onstage at WWDC 2019, will be particularly useful for photographs, allowing you to import photos into an app like Lightroom directly from your camera’s SD card without having to use a Siri Shortcut.
The functionality is coming with Apple’s new operating system for the iPad called iPadOS, which also includes an improved Files app that will make files easier to manage once they’re on the tablet. If you want to transfer it onward from the device, then iCloud has been updated with support for folder sharing.
The iPad’s file management has been a key sticking point as Apple has transitioned its tablet toward becoming a laptop replacement. When we reviewed last year’s iPad Pro, for example, the only support it had for external storage was to import photos directly to the camera roll. Native support for external storage will go a long way in making the iPad feel like a genuine laptop replacement rather than just a capable tablet.