It’s been nearly 10 years since the debut of the iPad, and we’ve had to wait for iOS 13 to arrive to finally get the kind of external storage support we’ve been asking for from the beginning. Well, it’s technically iPadOS 13 that’s bringing native support for external storage to iPad, but it doesn’t matter what Apple calls the operating system as long as it does the trick. On top of that, the Files app has received a few significant updates of its own, making the iPad a lot easier to manage when it comes to data.
iPadOS supports external storage, Apple revealed on stage at WWDC 2019 on Monday, including external drives, USB drives, and SD cards. All you need to make it happen is an iPad model that can run iPadOS 13 and an external drive that can hook up to it. That’s USB-C connectivity for the latest iPad Pros and Lightning for older iPad models.
But support for external storage would be meaningless without a revamped Files app, and that’s exactly what Apple is giving iPad users. The new Files app will look and behave a lot like Finder on Mac, which means you’ll have an easier time moving files around and even previewing their contents.
In addition to high-resolution previews, the Files app also supports quick actions that will let you rotate and mark up items, as well as turn them into PDF files on the spot. You get rich metadata for each file and folder as well, similar to macOS. The Document Scanner will let you create copies of your documents and place them wherever you want to store them on the iPad.
Support for zipping and unzipping files is also included, and you’ll be able to create local folders on the iPad, as well as share folders via iCloud Drive. A Downloads folder lets you see all the files you might be downloading from Safari and Mail. Safari, which has gotten a big update in iPadOS, comes with a Download Manager feature that lets you better manage and access your downloads as you browse.
Finally, there’s also support in Files to connect to home or work servers via SMB, in case external storage isn’t enough for your needs.