Does this new addition point to any other changes on the horizon?
When Steve Jobs announced the original iPad a little over 11 years ago, the experience was designed around use in portrait mode, much like the iPhone that preceded it. While the device could be rotated, many of those early demos focused on using the tablet much like a large notepad. Even the original Apple Keyboard Dock held the iPad in portrait mode, rather than the more natural landscape.
Those origins still inform the iPad and iPadOS, but things are definitely changing. This new Apple logo boot screen is just more evidence of that evolution.
It has been a VERY slow transition, but the iPad has been transitioning to a device that is more centered around use in landscape mode for a while now. I’ve been using keyboard cases with my various iPads since the iPad 2, so I’ve been a heavy landscape user for a long time now. However, keyboard cases weren’t as mainstream an iPad accessory until Apple made one of their own.
The Smart Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio definitely positioned the iPad Pro as a device that was more at home in landscape mode. Between the new keyboard, the larger screen and the addition of multitasking, the new Pro definitely showed that Apple’s vision for their tablets was moving in a new direction.
Those were some big steps, but the release of the Magic Keyboard last year was more of a defining moment, in my opinion. That is a serious accessory meant to fundamentally alter the iPad experience. Using your iPad exclusively in landscape mode is a huge part of that. If you have a Magic Keyboard, your iPad likely spends a lot of its time docked in it. I know my 2018 Pro did before I sold it a couple of weeks ago.
So now we have this new landscape Apple logo boot screen that showed up out of nowhere. Evidently it comes up whenever you are using a Smart Connector keyboard, so it really isn’t based on whether the orientation of the iPad is in landscape. I guess that is just assumed if your iPad Pro or 2020 Air is in a Smart Connector keyboard case.
So why now? Why did this new boot screen just appear in iPadOS 14.5? It’s hard to say, exactly. It could be as simple as one or more Apple engineers giving a nod to the increasing use of landscape orientation on the iPad. Landscape becoming the default for more users seems inevitable with more keyboard case choices and trackpad compatibility. Maybe this is just a simple recognition of that fact in software.
However, I can’t help but wonder if this is a sign that points to more changes ahead for the iPad. Apple doesn’t tend to alter things without a reason, and you don’t get more deeply rooted in the iPad’s background than the iPadOS boot screen. That’s been there since the beginning and it hasn’t really changed before now. So again- why now?
I can’t help but hope that this change points to another possible change. Hopefully Apple recognizes that landscape use has long since overtaken portrait as the primary orientation for the iPad platform, especially on the iPad Pro. With that being the case, it’s time for Apple to move the iPad Pro’s front-facing camera array to the top of the iPad in landscape. I think anyone who uses an iPad in a keyboard case will agree that this change is LONG overdue.
As much as iPads are being used by students for online classes and remote workers to do their jobs, it just makes sense. Just like many of you, I have been a part of a lot of Zoom calls lately and I use my iPad (an Air at the moment) almost exclusively for them. However, when I need to use video, it’s always a pain because of the poor camera location for use in landscape mode.
Maybe I’m reading too much into what is ultimately a very small change in iPadOS. However, at the very least, this new boot screen shows that there are some people at Apple who recognize that landscape iPad usage is important and on the rise. Hopefully a new boot screen isn’t all we get out of it.