I’ve seen the future of the iPad, and it’s hidden under a key.
The future of an entire platform is a lot to pile on a single plastic square, but here we are. Down in the bottom left corner of Apple’s keyboards is a new key labeled with the picture of a globe. Initially intended for supporting multiple languages, in iPadOS 15 the Globe key has become something much bigger: it’s a symbol for global keyboard shortcuts.
In iPadOS 14, if you hold down the Command key, you can see a list of app-specific features and their key equivalents. It’s like a quick-reference card for keyboard shortcuts. In iPadOS 15, Apple has expanded this feature to make it more like the iPad equivalent of the Mac menu bar—not only does it list keyboard shortcuts, but it can list every command in the app, and you can click any of them to execute them. iPad apps that build out the Mac menu bar for their Catalyst version can pick this feature up for free. It’s another way that the Mac and iPad are increasingly complementing one another.
Then there’s the Globe key. Hold it down in any app in iPadOS 15, and you’ll see a different set of commands, all of which can be applied globally. (Get it?) These menus are full of shortcuts to switch to the home screen (Globe-H), open a Quick Note (Globe-Q), activate Control Center (Globe-C), and pretty much any other system-level area.
The Globe menu also contains loads of keyboard shortcuts to control multitasking. You can put apps into Split View and Slide Over, pop them back into full screen, and cycle between apps, all via Globe key shortcuts.
Clearly, there’s a lot more work to be done, but I’m excited that Apple is staking out space for keyboard shortcuts that can work across different apps. This Globe-key kid has potential. We should keep them around and see what happens next.
I agree with Jason. I’m excited for iPadOS 15 to get here so that I can start using these keyboard shortcuts.