The Apple Watch runs WatchOS. It’s a stripped down version of iOS,
optimized for a much smaller screen and much smaller battery. It also
has its own, distinctive look and feel, including its own take on the
Home screen, its own interaction methods like the digital crown and
force touch, and its own, distinctive capabilities like the Taptic
engine, optimized for a wearable.
In contrast, when Apple decided to launch the iPad, they used iPhone
OS. It was originally suggested they use the exact same single-column
interface, but because it wouldn’t make efficient use of the much
larger screen, they decided to implement a dual-column interface
instead. Yet the Home screen and design language remained the same as
the iPhone, as did the interaction methods and capabilities.
Imagine instead, like the Apple Watch, the iPad ran its own distinct
version of iOS: iPad OS. Rather than a stripped down version for
smaller screens and batteries, imagine it ran an amped-up version that
really took advantage of bigger screens and batteries, with a Home
screen, interaction methods, and capabilities optimized for a tablet.
I’ve had the same though, and done the same thought experiment a few
times. And I don’t think the answer is to have a iPad OS on its own. But
I think it is to have a common core, shared by iPhone, iPad and iWatch,
combined with a really focused design language for each one.
I think the iPad is great, but it still feels like a big iPhone. I would
love to see a iOS version that really took the iPad serious.