Top 5 secret new iPadOS 15 features and changes you should know about

Top 5 secret new iPadOS 15 features and changes you should know about
Now that iPadOS 15 is here, and if you own an Apple tablet made in the last seven years you're likely on it, it's time to take a look at some of the more minute features and changes that you may find interesting.

We already did an iPadOS 15 hands-on preview, showcasing the bigger new features in Apple's newest iPad OS version, but did you know…

iPad Instagram in landscape? It finally works

Instagram and other iPhone-centric apps that you can download on iPad used to awkwardly change your screen orientation from landscape to portrait, which is a particularly bad experience if you're using your iPad like a laptop, with a keyboard and everything.

Well, as of iPadOS 15, this forced orientation switching is no more. Now Instagram will open in landscape, but with huge black borders around it, looking just like it would on an iPhone.

Unfortunately, some of us were hoping that Instagram would also now work in a Slide Over pop-up window, or at least in Split View, but it doesn't. Still, a small win for iPad Instagram users.

You can now use a physical keyboard to navigate the home screen

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While the use of physical keyboards is still rather limited even on iPadOS 15, at least when compared to a desktop PC, you can now use the arrow keys of your first or third-party physical keyboard to navigate through the home screen, highlight apps and widgets, and open them.

And remember that you can always press and hold the Command key (cmd) while on the home screen and inside apps to see what available keyboard shortcuts you have to work with.

An iPad power user who owns a physical keyboard can, for example, press the Globe key + up arrow on the home screen to see all of their open apps, then use the arrow keys to navigate to one and press Enter to switch to it. iPadOS navigation without even touching the display is getting better and better.

The Safari browser's interface can be switched between compact and traditional

If you want some extra screen space for browsing the web, the Safari browser has a new setting you may find useful. Navigate to your iPad's Settings app, then scroll down on the list to the left to find Safari, and tap it.

Now on the right, if you scroll down, you'll find a new "TABS" option that lets you either have a separate tab bar, similarly to how Safari worked on iPadOS 14, or a compact tab bar. The latter will use only one row, thus giving you more vertical screen space for the websites you visit. And each tab now acts as a search bar – intuitive and convenient!

You can turn on background ambient sounds for a more relaxing, focused experience

A new iPad option allows you to play "background sounds", which Apple claims can "mask unwanted environmental noise", "minimise distraction and help you to focus, be calm or rest."

Navigate to the Settings app > Accessibility > Audio/Visual. Here you'll see the option to enable background sounds and choose one of the following:

  • Balanced Noise (noise)
  • Bright Noise (high-frequency noise)
  • Dark Noise (low-frequency noise)
  • Ocean (waves)
  • Rain (pouring rain and birds chirping)
  • Stream (running water)

You can set the volume of those ambient sounds independently from your other iPad sound volume dial, and choose whether the ambient noise stops when you play a video or song.

If you're easily distracted by noise yet work in a noisy environment, you may find this helpful. This feature might even help you fall asleep easier, like a noise machine would.

There's a new iPadOS 15 wallpaper

Something you may have easily missed is the new wallpaper you can set by going to Settings > Wallpaper > Stills. As is now customary with built-in Apple wallpapers, it has both dark mode and light mode variants.

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